Town of New Salem Selectboard
October 5, 2020
Held Virtually via Zoom
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Joe Cuneo, Fire Chief; David Cramer, Planning Board; Jen Potee, Board of Health; Bradford Randall, Vivekanad Patel, Barznab Khan, Ancient Growth; Claire McGinnis, Finance Committee; Nancy Slator, New Salem News; Jackson Goddard; Rosemary Lyman; Adam Braillard; Peter D’Agostine; Phil Arnold
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
- Payroll & Vendor Warrants
- State Election Warrant for November 3
Proposed Marijuana Host Community Agreement
Bradford started off by noting some new business partners who have been brought on board. He took a brief moment to introduce them and then spoke briefly about Ancient Growths comments to the HCA which were sent to Town Counsel. Randy then asked if these new partners are investors and if this means a change in strategy. Bradford responded that more investors mean more capital. There is no change in the business model. Peter noted he’s a consultant for Tenax which is helping Ancient Growth. Randy thanked for those who have come to the meeting noting that until the proposed amendments and changes are considered by Town Counsel there is nothing to vote on at this time.
Appointment of Phil Arnold to the Conservation Commission
Phil briefly introduced himself. He noted he has meet with the Commission already and understands what its role is. He moved to New Salem almost a year ago and loves living in town. Nancy noted this will leave the Commission with only one vacancy as it is a five-member commission and has been operating with only three members. Randy thanked Phil for his willingness to serve.
Proposed Change Order to Window/Door Project at Swift River Elementary – Interior Doors
Nancy reported on discussions had between Wendell and school officials. It appears the vote taken in the past for the overall project cannot cover this project. This would necessitate new votes at town meeting. Wendell is not interested in seeking a Special Town Meeting for this. Since there is no reimbursement from the Commonwealth for this project there is no particular hurry and Wendell would like to wait until its next Annual Town Meeting. Randy noted there really is no rush and the funds are not approved. Wayne concurred feeling it wise to conclude the ongoing project first and addressing this separately. Jean noted that it makes sense to do this together with Wendell since this is a joint venture. Claire suggested that the school could make a capital request as part of the regular budgetary process.
Update from Town Counsel on Issues with Last Special Town Meeting Article
Nancy reported on the latest. Town Counsel has spoken with their counterpart in Orange. The intent of the amendment did not apply to the Library part of the article and was solely applicable to Mahar and providing additional funding for Mahar. Town Counsel reports this is not possible as the language of the amendment to the motion was not proper. No further town meeting action is required, the original motion without amendment would be applicable in this circumstance. Claire sought clarification of whether a Special Town Meeting is necessary. Nancy confirmed it is not needed. Randy asked about the additional funds and whether they would be spent. Nancy responded that they would not be spent. The amendment to the motion was offered on the floor and the wording was convoluted. It is partially due to the wording and it is partially due to the fact that Orange and Wendell passed the budget without any corresponding higher amounts. This essentially moots the point of that amendments language as it was contingent on those other communities also increasing funding.
Tennis Court Upgrade
Jean reported she is still waiting for additional information. Wayne noted that we’re heading into bad weather anyway so this project wouldn’t be ready at the moment. Randy felt the project worth further research, but felt that given the pandemic and the circumstances of the town it may be worth delay. Jean expressed hope that this project can be pursued in the near future and agreed it can wait as it likely wouldn’t be done until the spring at the earliest. Wayne agreed to continue seeking further information and pricing.
Gate at Overlook – Request to Remove Lock
Nancy reported that there has been an expression of a potential public safety issue with this gate being locked. That said the gate was placed and the lock installed by order of the Selectboard. This was done due to some partying that had occurred in the past and because there was concern of the potential for someone to accidentally drive into that area. Wayne noted this isn’t a great distance and the Fire Chief has a key to the gate and would be the most likely to be the first responder overseeing anyone being evacuated from that area. It was agreed that if the Fire Chief doesn’t have a key the lock should be replaced so that he does. He felt that keeping the gate closed is safer. Jean asked whether this is a presumptive concern about the possibility of something happening or the result of something actually happening. Nancy responded this was a hypothetical concern. Jean clarified that this gate was placed because of a need for it. Nancy confirmed it was. It was becoming a party area and some town property, a picnic table, was stolen. In that event Jean was in favor of keeping it locked assuming emergency personnel have access to the key. Nancy agreed to confirm with Chief Cuneo that he has a key. Wayne finished the discussion by noting that some of this property is likely DCR’s anyway.
Streetlight at Corner of South Main & Lovers Lane – Request for Town to Assume Payments
Nancy reported this streetlight is currently being paid for by a resident. Other neighbors had offered to help pay for it, but that never materialized. There are many streetlights in town that individuals pay for and if the town assumes this cost many of those others would likely ask for the town to pay for it. The cost is about $15 a month. Wayne submitted that the light is old fashioned with a clear lightbulb that may very well be burned out already. He couldn’t see why the town would need to pick it up and felt it unlikely that it would be missed. He offered to look into replacement with a solar light. If it is a safety issue, it may be worth pursuing the town assuming it. But he felt the solar light would be an acceptable replacement. Jean inquired with Nancy about the streetlights that residents are paying for asking how it came to be. Nancy responded that this is something National Grid has done for years. They would install lights at the request of residents. But when that happens the residents pay for them. Nancy then delineated the handful in town. Jean then clarified that she isn’t proposing more of these or changing the status quo as there are many who are sensitive to light at night. If the resident no longer wishes to pay for the light or if it is no longer necessary perhaps it should be discontinued. Randy felt that likely to occur as a default. Jean suggested that if there is a public safety concern, although she was not suggesting that intersection is one, that residents come to the Selectboard to make the case for a public streetlight. If it isn’t for public safety, there isn’t an obligation for the town to take it over. Nancy noted the town did pick up a light near the Transfer Station, but this was specifically due to the needs for the station when it has evening hours. So the town does install streetlights from time to time. Wayne noted that intersection really doesn’t get enough traffic to justify a streetlight, although he conceded he is unaware of the exact history of this particular streetlight.
November Election Warrant
Nancy asked the Selectboard to sign and approve the November Election Warrant. This is the state and federal election scheduled for November 3 and the warrant is pro forma in nature. The Selectboard saw no reason not to approve and sign the warrant for the election.
The Selectboard considered the minutes for September 8 which were tabled at the last meeting. Jean had a few edits aimed at clarifying a sentence in the minutes in the topic covering the Board of Health and the Flu Clinic which was held in the Town Hall. Randy expressed some reservation for changes to the sentence without further consideration. He submitted delaying approval of the September 8 minutes until the next meeting. This would allow all members process the changes and to come to wording that is acceptable to all. Wayne concurred. The Board therefore tabled the September 8 and September 21 minutes until its next meeting.
A motion to adjourn at 7:40 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed without objection.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk