Relatively quiet year in Alton


by Tim Croes
Staff Writer - The Baysider
January 08, 2014
ALTON — It was a pretty quiet year in Alton compared to the other two towns in The Baysider's coverage area. In March, Bob Daniels was elected as the newest member of the Alton Board of Selectmen. Cydney Johnson was also re-elected for a three-year position on the board.

In early January, the selectmen addressed concerns about the West Alton Fire Station. Chair Dave Hussey said the selectmen had no plans to shut down the fire station. The selectmen approved having students at Kingswood build a 24-foot by 24-foot addition that would be installed the senior center in town later in the year. In later January, the selectmen reviewed the warrant articles that would be discussed during the deliberative session.

In February, the selectmen approved a final plan for milfoil treatment, with support from a grant coming in the near future. At the town meeting in February, many attempts were made to amend the 40-plus warrant articles but none of them passed.

Hussey remembered Steve McMahon, who passed away in 2012 and thanked Pat Rockwood, who would be retiring soon for her years of service to the town.

In early March, Peter Bolster was recognized for six years of service as a selectman. The board discussed its objection to a petition warrant article to re-establish fire wards in town and reasoning for objecting to the article. The selectmen discussed the sale of the Downing's Landing property and how the town would lose the revenue from taxes now that the state owns it. Loring Carr was upset about the process.

During the town election, three planning board articles, an article for a new police cruiser and the petition article regarding fire wards were defeated. The three planning board articles were to amend the aquifer protection overlay district, adding a conservation subdivision ordinance and adding the equitable waiver of dimensional requirements to the powers of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

In March, Rockwood was presented with citations and gifts for her time working for the town. Carr was elected as the new chair of the board and Johnson was elected as the vice-chair.

In April, the selectmen agreed to write a letter to Alton Central School regarding safety concerns at the school. The board later met jointly with the Alton School Board and addressed issues regarding plumbing, septic, the roof and other issues.

In May, the selectmen approved the annual Memorial Day Parade in front of the town hall. The board approved adding a top coat of pavement to several town roads that were paved last year.

In June, Ed Consentino was recognized for 30 years of service with the Alton Fire Department. A dinner was held later in the month to celebrate his retirement from the department. Ken Roberts, the road agent, explained improvement projects on Trask Side Ride and Bowman Road scheduled in the next couple of months.

The board approved accepting credit cards at the tax office and for vehicle registration. The system was up and running early in the fall. In June, the addition to the senior center was delivered and installed.

Later in June, Roberts came before the board and explained the project on Depot Street. Work in front of Monument Square was also discussed, but this project has been pushed back to next year.

In July, the selectmen toured the fire stations in town. Later in July, the board addressed vandalism in town, including the rest rooms and Monument Square.

A concern was raised about allowing Habitat for Humanity to use a building in the B&M Railroad Park, but this plan was later scrapped.

During the fall months, many meetings were held about workforce housing, and the issue will be going to the voters in March of next year. Many public meetings presented both sides of the issue and the zoning amendment committee has spent countless hours drafting language regarding that issue and there are an additional eight amendments that will presented to the voters in March regarding zoning issues.

In August, the annual Old Home Day Parade was held and it was organized by the Alton Business Association. The selectmen discussed the work on Depot Street and agreed that plans for adding a pipe that could connect the septic system behind the town hall should be completed.

On Sept. 7, the Alton Bay Christian Conference Center celebrated 150 years with a big party with festivities held throughout the day.

In early September, the selectmen agreed to hire a septic designer to work on a plan for the septic that would be located behind the town hall. In late September, the selectmen held a discussion about Old Home Day. After receiving input from people in town, they decided to keep the day as planned in the future.

In October, the issue of installing a meter at Ginny Douglas Park was discussed. Later in the month, Brooks Electric agreed to install the meter at no charge to the town. In late October, Elizabeth Dominick was appointed to fill the open spot on the budget committee. The board approved the next phase on the renovation at the senior center that included the kitchen.

In November, Daniels was addressed about sending e-mails to entire budget committee. He was reprimanded for his actions and he later stepped down from his position on the budget committee, and Carr agreed to fill his spot.

The selectmen discussed the renovations for the town hall, including the roof, with the town administrator and bids that had come in. One of the bids was very low and the board wanted to clarify any errors in the bids received. The board later agreed to use money from the fund balance to keep the town portion of the tax rate the same. The tax rate for 2013 was $13.44 per thousand.

In December, the selectmen discussed a trio of easements near Mount Major. The board approved using $230,000 for the three easements, but member Dave Hussey voted against it because there was no guarantee the third parcel or property would be purchased by the town. The easements will help in guaranteeing Mount Major will be free and open to the public in the years to come.

The board also approved using a new Emergency Management System to contact people in town. Anyone with a landline phone is automatically signed up and people with cell phones can opt in and you can also sign up with an e-mail address.

Member Marc DeCoff requested to see the cost of rescues and how much it cost the fire department each year regarding Mount Major.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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