Maple Street Bridge repair question raised again


by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
December 06, 2012
WAKEFIELD — The repair of the Maple Street Bridge in Union, first discussed on Oct. 24, came up again at the Nov. 28 meeting of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen.

The bridge has been closed to traffic as unsafe for two years. Resident Cynthia Wyatt had made an appointment to discuss the issue on Oct. 24, but was unable to attend. Instead fellow Union resident Annette Perry asked when the town planned to repair the bridge. Selectmen Chair Ken Paul had responded that there were several other bridges in town needing repair that had priority over the Maple Street Bridge, including the Canal Street Bridge. They had priority because there were no nearby alternate routes for them. In Union the Bridge Street Bridge offers a nearby alternative.

On Nov. 28 Wyatt complained that is was hard to rent out a space she owns on Maple Street because the bridge was closed.

Perry said she had spoken with Road Agent Fred Clough who said it would be three or four years before the town would get to fixing the bridge.

Selectman Peter Kasprzyk point out to Wyatt that she has a right-of-way to Route 16 and can provide an alternate access more cheaply than repairing the bridge. Wyatt responded that the state would not allow access to Route 16 at that point.

Paul repeated his earlier suggestion that Union residents collect signature on a petition to put the bridge repair on the March warrant as a separate item. If voters approved the repair, there would be no need to wait.

Wyatt asked if the town could help residents get a cost estimate for repairing the bridge. Paul said yes.

Moose Plate grant

Selectmen held a public hearing on accepting a $8,506 grant from the Moose Plate Program to restore town records.

Town Clerk Monique Wood spoke in favor of the grant, saying it would pay to restore two volumes of town records in new bindings and digitize them at the same time. The record books are in "delicate shape," she added.

The grant is from the state, not the federal government, and has "no strings attached."

Paul noted that the request for funds to restore the two record books had been a budget request two years ago but had been turned down.

No other comments were received. The public hearing was closed and the board voted 3-0 to accept the grant.

In response to a question from the audience, Wood said that conservation moose plates can be vanity or number plates.

Time Warner cable

Jim Miller asked if there was any movement on the Time Warner cable contract. Town Administrator Teresa Williams reported that she had been in touch with Attorney Kate Miller and everything has been sent to Time Warner except the original buildout maps.

Miller said that he and his colleagues at Clearview were getting together a wish list of equipment needed to be submitted to Time Warner with the understanding that the company may be willing to supply equipment rather than make a cash grant.

He also noted that a draft agreement between Clearview and the town had been submitted on Monday, Nov. 26.

Paul said the draft contract could be discussed at the Dec. 12 meeting.

Dave Mankus said he would be hugely disappointed if Time Warner did not include a buildout plan. The most that the company seemed willing to do was to do the buildout and deduct the cost from the franchise fee.

Relf Fogg said that there was only 1.5 to two miles left to be built out and that should be done before the town signs the contract.

Public comments

Heritage Commission Chair Pam Judge thanked selectmen for sending a letter of support for the commission's efforts to preserved the rails coming into Turntable Park. She said she met with Executive Councilor Ray Burton and Bureau of Trails Director Chris Gamache for one hour and 15 minutes.

Gamache said there were no immediate plans to remove the rails (which he said is normal policy with trails) and he was willing to look at plans for the trail that included keeping the rails.

Selectmen gave their approval to allow the commission to work with Wakefield Parks and Recreation to prepare the needed plan.

Relf Fogg commented on the MRI plan presentation at the previous meeting, particularly the puzzlement of MRI President Don Jutton as how the town keeps its costs so low and why it has some positions that are elected rather than appointed. "People have faith in our elected officials and accepted the recommendations made by them," he said. "Combining positions or eliminating other will make Wakefield less desirable to live in."

Paul agreed. "There's not much more slashing that can be done."

Other business

Selectmen held the second of two required public hearings on accepting $135,000 in grant to purchase 121 acres in Union Meadows. Please see separate article on that topic.

Kasprzyk reported that the reconstruction of Brackett Road is done. Highway crews are adding wings to the plows in preparation for snow season.

Selectman Charlie Edwards reported that the planning board received four proposals to do the Natural Resources chapter of the Master Plan. Bids ranged from $9,600 to $13,000 – all higher than the $8,500 budgeted. The board agreed that they would not pay more than the $8,500 and see what that got them.

The proposed zoning amendment on the Route 16 commercial zone is complete: the zone will extend from Wilson Road south on Route 16 to where the Brach River crosses just below the lights at Route 109 and will extend 1,000 feet on both sides or to the Brookfield town line.

Edwards also reported that the Zoning Board of Adjustment turned down an abutter's appeal request to its decision allow Dave Silcock to revive the auto business on Route 153.

Paul reported that Wakefield Projects has finished the bid package for the Opera House renovations. They hope to have a firm quote by the town Deliberative Session in February.

The Food Pantry will be moving into its new building the first part of January.

The board approved sending letters of appreciation to all departments thanking them for their cooperation with MRI. Selectmen also agreed to a proposal by Edwards to send a welcome letter to all new businesses in town, together with a package of useful information.

Williams reported that the Local Government Center said that if the town established a local workfare program for welfare recipients under RSA 531, then those workers will be covered by the town's liability insurance, otherwise not.

Selectmen signed permits for road work on Witchtrot Road and approved another waiver on town ambulance changes based on hardship.

The board also reviewed three bids for printing the town report and gave the contract to C & K of Rochester for the low bid of $1,695. The other bids were $2,059 and $2,340.

Williams reported that Rusty Loring came in on his own time to meet the two new highway department employees and train them. She suggested offering him a gift card in appreciation of his thoughtfulness.

The next regular meeting of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall meeting room. The board will also hold a budget hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 3:30 p.m. in the same place.

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