October 03, 2018WAKEFIELD — Newly-appointed selectman Denny Miller attended his first Board of Selectmen meeting last Wednesday, Sept. 26. It turned out to be a two-hour-and-twenty-minute introduction.
Miller was appointed to serve until next March's elections. He replaced Lino Avellani, who resigned on Aug. 22 for health reasons.
The new board took action on the first two items on the agenda, both discussed for months. The first was the purchase of Global Positioning System (GPS) units for highway department trucks and police cruisers; the units would track mileage, speed, location and, in the case of trucks, the amount of sand or salt distributed. The second was a facility use policy to deal with serving alcohol at functions in town facilities.
Miller's only question about the GPS units concerned data retention, to protect the town if someone sues later about a road or police incident. Town Administrator Kelley Collins said the information could be printed out and kept in a file. Miller felt there should be a data handling policy for both departments.
The GPS purchase was passed unanimously.
On the facility use policy, the board agreed that they did not want to allow an open bar in town facilities. Collins agreed to write that into the draft policy.
Resident Neil Rowe repeated his request that selectmen walk the section of Bonnyman Road close of Province Lake where erosion has caused undercutting of the pavement. Selectmen Chair Connie Twombley said that the new Public Works Director Brock Mitchell should go out an assess the road. She reminded Rowe that selectmen walked the road 1.5 years ago with representatives from the Department of Environmental Services (DES), Acton Wakefield Watershed Alliance and UNH and DES said what road modifications they would approve at that time.
Miller agreed that Mitchell should assess the road first, calling it "an unresolved issue."
Rowe said there is a confusion here, that DES only looked at Mr. Thomas' drainage issue and that there is "much more involved." He cited 153 Bonnyman Rd., at the junction with Towle Farm Rd.
Miller said he knew the road but felt Mitchell would look at the problem with "fresh eyes."
Larry Moody of 207 Bonnyman asked if Selectman Wallace had been on site, as he requested. Wallace said he has no expertise with roads.
Shirley McCormack of 165 Bonnyman said that the issue can only be seen from the water. She said erosion puts boulders from under the road into the lake. She says she has 36 such rocks and the town needs to look at the embankment.
Miller said the town would need permission to go on Province Lake docks.
Twombley said she had faith in new DPW Director Mitchell and will ask him now to look at the problem.
Collins reminded Rowe about the Moody drainage problem that the DES had come up with a plan that required an easement from Moody and a neighbor who refused to grant it.
Collins announced that the project to renovate/replace half of the remaining Town Hall windows funded by a Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) will begin Oct. 1 and that the town needs to come up with a "stewardship"/maintenance plan for the windows. She suggested the town adopt a plan developed by the Land Trust Alliance.
Wallace said he'd like to review the plan first. Collins said plan approval would not hold up the work, only the LCHIP reimbursement. The grant expires on Dec. 31, 2018. Miller moved to adopt the Land Trust standards, Twombley read the required resolution to adopt, and the board voted unanimously to adopt it.
The board also approved applying for state bridge aid for the Marsh Riad and North Old Farm Road bridges, bringing the number of bridges to be funded in part with state aid to four out of seven, as well as a Hazard Mitigation plan for the Maple Street bridge in Union.
Miller announced that he and Howie Knight from the budget committee will go to HEB Engineers in Conway to review how to use the bridge cash flow spreadsheet on the bridges the firm has created.
Also approved was allowing the Town Clerk to process OHRV and snowmobile registrations as a convenience to residents.
Selectmen agreed to abate interest on overdue property taxes on Map 34, Lot 4, as the owner has been complying with a back taxes payment plan.
Collins reminded residents who owe back taxes that the Deadline Date for tax deeding on un paid taxes is Oct. 22.
Selectmen read a letter from Robert Baxter of Union complaining that he had filled out an application to be appointed to the Heritage Commission six months ago as an alternate and was just turned down. Twombley said the selectmen have "nothing to say" about appointments to committees until they receive recommendations.
Baxter had also written about choosing the engineer to work on the Bridge Street bridge. So far there is only one engineer, the one who built the bridge. Wallace asked Baxter to type his letters as they were difficult to read. No action was taken.
The board accepted the resignation of Rebecca Merrill with regret.
A letter from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation notified the town of an illegal driveway accessing Route 153. Miller said he knew of that situation and considered it unfair of the state since neighbors did have driveways.
During public comment Relf Fogg brought up replacing the culvert on Pond Road, saying that the Conservation Commission discussed it and begging the board to take action. After a lengthy discussion Collins said she would ask DPW Director Mitchell to ask DES to make an emergency replacement.
Collins informed selectmen that the Water Precinct has shut off 23 customers, saying it may create a health and welfare situation. Someone said some tried to pay but no one was at the precinct to accept payment.
The state is now saying that the town needs to pay "fair market value" for Turntable Park if it wants to take it over. Collins agree to ask Executive Councilor Joe Kenney to have state do the appraisal rather than the town for possible placement on the March 2019 warrant. The town's current lease on the park auto extends, Collins said.
ISO is rating the fire department, Collins said. The result affects insurance rates.
Selectmen approved writing off $1,977.30 in ambulance bills due to hardship and sending reports on $1,249.48 in bills to Experian for credit rating.
Collins asked selectmen to plan work sessions on vehicle policy and the 2019 budget. The board agreed to start on Oct. 5.
A survey on the Canal Road bridge going back to 1737 found that the MAine-NH state line falls in the middle of the canal. Copies will be sent to Acton, Maine, selectmen and town counsel. Miller felt it should also be sent to the Maine Attorney General.
The board signed form MS-535, used to set the tax rate. She said the town has picked up $190 million in value, which will help lower the rate. Miller asked if Howie Knight could sit in on the rate setting.
The board agreed to hold a public hearing on raising building permit fees to bring them in line with other towns on Oct, 26.
Denny Miller was appointed board representative to the budget committee and Vin Wallace was elected Vice Chair of the Board of Selectmen.
The next regular meeting will be held in the conference room at Town Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m.
All selectmen meetings are broadcast live by ClearView Community TV and may also be viewed online at clearview3tv.com and governmentoversite.com.