Town of NewSalem Selectboard
June 3, 2019
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; MaryEllen Kennedy, MLP Director; Kathy Soule-Regine, MLP Board; Ken Bright
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Reorganization of the Selectboard
The Selectboard started off by welcoming Jean Derderian as the newest member. After brief discussion it was determined to retain Randy as the chair.
A motion was made by Wayne to designate Randy as the Selectboard Chair. Jean seconded the motion which passed by majority vote with Randy abstaining.
Incident Command System Training Requirements
Nancy reported on a letter from the Fire Chief regarding this subject. This involves several courses and certifications regarding various systems. It was agreed that this training, which is online, should be pursued by the members of the Selectboard.
Contract with White Mountain Cable for Broadband Installation
MaryEllen explained this contract is for the distribution of and running of the fiber lines. Kathy noted that this company is very thorough and have worked with Westfield Gas & Electric. Jean inquired about whether the contract has been reviewed by Town Counsel. Kathy responded that this contract is boilerplate and very standard. It has been used by numerous towns. Further, any significant changes to the contract could result in thousands of dollars in legal fees. Town Counsel has mostly been utilized for the easements as those are often disputed or thorny to negotiate with private land owners. Nancy brought up the easement with Constance Blakely on William Rice Road. MaryEllen elaborated further on that subject and why it appeared in the warrant on the bill schedule. It isn’t ready to be signed just yet, the easement, as it still hasn’t been signed by Ms. Blakely as of yet. Discussion shifted back to the White Mountain contract with a question on when the work would start. MaryEllen reported that it would start within a month of signing the contract. She noted that this contract won’t apply to the Town Common or William Rice Road. Rather, a different contract for those areas will be sought given needs to do different things.
Both areas will likely require the lines to be underground. Kathy reported on some work that still needs to occur with National Grid and Verizon for this as well. Mainly concerning special licenses to run the fiber on their poles. At this point Westfield Gas & Electric is meeting on a weekly basis with both utilities to see this done. It also doesn’t hurt that Governor Baker is monitoring this process as well. Kathy then reported on the procurement projects that still need to occur. The most significant of which will be for the connections to houses. At that stage they will be moving forward with signing up residents so as to get the list of houses for connections. MaryEllen elaborated further reporting that first the fiber will be run and things will be live, that way when connections are done the homeowners will be able to immediately get their service. Wayne inquired about the service price. Kathy responded that the numbers are getting more solid. Somethings are still shifting so the price isn’t entirely certain. But it should be soon. A lot comes down to the final costs and the MLP Board is trying to get a handle on that. Otherwise things are in pretty good shape. So numbers will be releasable to the public soon. There was brief discussion regarding other options that will be attached to this, primarily phone services. More information will be released outlining the plans that will be available. Discussion finished on some regulatory hurdles with the FCC and other federal bodies. The Commonwealth has been very supportive in that aspect to help the towns.
Community Garden Request for Access to Town Hall Water
Nancy reported that this matter was resolved. In the past the town hasn’t always let the community garden use the Town Hall’s water, but that was only in drought when the artesian well has run dry. That isn’t an issue this year.
Surplus Portable Generator
Wayne reported on a surplus generator. A number of years ago the town purchased two portable generators. Eventually these generators stopped working. Highway Department was able to get one of them working. The status of the other is uncertain although Wayne felt it was also working. Fire Department is not interested and it has been determined that no other department needs them. Wayne suggested pursuing selling them as surplus equipment, but noted it may be necessary to hold off until a later time. Jean inquired whether there is a specific reason to dispose of these or whether the town may retain them. If they are useable still, it may be wise to keep them for now. Wayne felt it prudent to do further research and to determine whether the other generator is still working. Randy concurred feeling there is no pressing need to pursue the matter right now.
Ceiling at Old Academy Building/Peeling Paint Issue
Eleanor McGinnis has reported to the town that there is a peeling paint issue in the Old Academy Building. The current renters, the Trustees of the New Salem Academy would like to see the matter addressed. Jean reported on some legwork she’s done on this. Ceilings weren’t generally painted in such buildings historically. Therefore, she felt it proper not to repaint it. That said she elaborated on a cleanup process that could be pursued. She expressed willingness to volunteer to see it done but had some concerns about any liability to the town for her to do so. Randy noted that Wayne regularly volunteers his time and expertise for the town and it isn’t an issue. As long as its volunteer work, it isn’t an ethics issue. Nancy noted that the towns insurance policy would cover Jean anyway as it would for any volunteer. Jean then turned discussion to the ongoing bat problem for that building as well as a moisture issue.
South Main Street Signage
Nancy reported on a signage issue on South Main Street. Jean followed up by reporting on some discussions she’s had with citizens in that area. There are several signs, including the Green Community sign, the speed limit, the street name, the no parking sign, and so forth. The signage is cluttered and haphazard. Clearly this area can have improved signage, either through movement or consolidation of signs. Nancy noted where all the signs are currently located and proposed various methods to clean them up. Wayne inquired about the various authorities in charge of signage. Nancy reported that given the structure of New Salem’s government it would fall to the Selectboard through Highway Department. She suggested speaking with the Highway Chief. It was agreed to pursue the matter further.
Liaison to DCR
Jean reported on this topic. She brought this issue up for a number of issues. Because nearly 80 percent of the town is owned by DCR, it seems prudent to partner with them. She was aware of prior work to this end and felt it should be built upon. There are a lot of ways the town could work with DCR. One area of interest is the Keystone Bridge. That structure is important to the town and it should be preserved. It makes sense to have a point person on the matter. Randy noted that the basic idea of a board is to have decisions made in meetings conforming to the Open Meeting Law. But otherwise he had no opposition to dialogue that can be reported back for such meetings. Jean agreed stating that of course no decisions would be made without open dialogue in a proper meeting. Wayne noted some areas of possible negotiation, including the town getting sand. Nancy reminded that there are towns who are allowed statutorily, since the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir, to obtain sand. New Salem is one of just 4 such towns. Every so often DCR tries to cut the towns off due to the shrinkage of the resource, but the towns simply remind DCR of the law. It was agreed to designate Jean as liaison from the Selectboard to DCR with the understanding that no decisions are to be made outside of the Selectboard’s posted public meetings.
Update on IG’s Request
Nancy updated on the matter. Town Counsel suggested asking for an extension. Which Nancy did. The IG is willing to allow various parts of this to be extended. Still, with that done, the extensions were not substantial. With the help of the Town Treasurer, who has some budget for hiring help, Nancy was able to pay a town employee to work through the project. She noted this is substantially similar to the Public Records Act in how it is fulfilled. A lot of what is being asked for doesn’t exist because it wasn’t legally required at the time. She is not sure what will come of this, but it will cost the town hundreds of dollars to fulfill.
1794 Meetinghouse License Agreement
The 1794 Meetinghouse has requested attention to this matter. Town Counsel was consulted on their previous lease, which he concluded wasn’t legal. Town Counsel suggests doing a license for a year or two in place of a lease. This will buy the town time to work out a proper multiyear lease that can be approved and will conform with MGL.
Letter from Ron Lunn Regarding Property on Lovers Lane
A while ago Ron Lunn sent in a letter. The town has looked into the matter, but the issue is one for the Land Court. Jean suggested sending a letter acknowledging the concern and explaining that the town is waiting on the Land Court and the town is making every effort. Wayne took the opportunity to discuss what should be done with the property once it is owned by the town. Demolishment of the structure could cost as much as $50,000. Nancy suggested that the town could sell the lot with the stipulation that any buyer demolish the existing structure at their own expense. Jean noted that the lot could have issues with being buildable as once the structure is demolished any grandfathering would be lost. The lot in question appears not to conform with being a buildable lot as understood in New Salem’s zoning. This prompted discussion regarding various other properties under tax takings.
Application for Farmer Series Pouring License/Upcoming Public Hearing
There is a company in town who hold a special license from the ABCC to make hard cider. They can make the hard cider without a license from the town, but in order to sell or pour it in town they need a liquor license. Since it would be a new license the town would have to hold hearings and follow a number of processes with abutters and so forth. Further the company would need to get some paperwork with the ABCC done. It is not the towns responsibility to ensure that they provide the paperwork. It is the towns responsibility to hold the proper hearings and issuance of the local licensing. Then it becomes a matter for the ABCC from there. The applicant had wished to have this done by July 4th, but that is not feasible as even if the town was able to get everything done the ABCC would still require 6 to 8 weeks. Jean had some questions regarding licenses in town and how many are issued. Nancy elaborated on the current licenses. The number of those issuable are based upon population as well as what the town received as part of its statutory authorization from the General Court. Discussion ended shortly thereafter.
Review & Sign Annual Town Meeting Warrant
Nancy provided the Selectboard with the Annual Town Meeting Warrant. The Selectboard reviewed the warrant and determined to sign. Jean had some questions regarding process which Randy answered. Nancy then reported on some of the ways to handle motions and noted that at the Selectboard’s last meeting prior to the meeting the process will be discussed in greater depth. Wayne noted some topics that didn’t make it on to this warrant, but that should be given some thought for the next town meeting. Nancy outlined a few areas that may cause some bumps with citizens. One being an article that involves the window project at Swift River Elementary. The article doesn’t have a number, but the motion will. Randy felt confident that whatever questions that arise will be addressed with facts and citizens will be able to feel comfortable. Nancy reminded that this project is much needed and the Commonwealth will be subsidizing this substantially. Wayne agreed as to necessity noting the dire state of the windows.
Nancy reported on some of the growing problems the town has been going through with the towns website. People need to be trained on how to update the website more easily. She noted what she does with the website and the homepage for it. Jean had some questions about the cost of the services for maintaining the website and homepage. Nancy reported it costs the town $75. It was felt that it might be beneficial to setup some kind of training. Nancy agreed to pursue the matter.
Town Coordinator’s Schedule for June
Nancy reported on her vacation. She will be taking all Fridays off in the month. She noted that in September she will reach 16 years in her employment with the town. Which will entitle her to another week’s vacation every year. But that will be a matter for next fiscal year.
The Selectboard considered and determined to approve the minutes from May 21, 2019.
A motion to adjourn at 8:07 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed unanimously.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk