October 03, 2013WAKEFIELD — Since 1937 the Town of Wakefield has allowed contractors to load up their trucks with sand at the highway garage and spread the sand on private roads in town. In 1997 that policy was amended to make clear that the contractor could not charge for the sand, just for the service of spreading it.
Now, following a complaint and advice from an attorney at the New Hampshire Municipal Association, selectmen are considering whether to continue allowing contractors free sand or stop the practice.
Town Administrator Teresa Williams contacted the association to find if giving town sand to private contractors was allowable under New Hampshire law. The answer, she reported at the selectmen's Sept. 26 meeting, was that it was not legal to let private contractors use town sand on private roads and driveways.
She said that the concern has been that the sand is being used in other towns. Last year Road Agent Fred Clough had people fill out forms requesting sand for road associations. The town could charge a fee for the sand, she added.
Selectman Charlie Edwards said he would like to keep the sand free. He said he feels private road landowners do not get much by way of services from the town. "How much is the town losing? [by offering free sand]" he asked. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Selectman Connie Twombley said she doesn't have a problem with the free sand, but did not want the town to get into trouble.
Selectman Chair Ken Paul countered that private road residents do get all town services except road maintenance, including police, fire, and schools. He agreed with Edwards, though, that the board needs to find out from Clough how much sand is being used.
Paul said he advocated forming a committee to study private roads in town to see if they can be made town roads.
Williams said she would get the sand use information for the next meeting.
Michael Kelleher, Enhanced 911 field representative, met with the board to describe the maps of Wakefield used by the 911 Center to pinpoint callers and dispatch responders to the right location. The map data is available for town use, he explained, once selectmen sign letters accepting it.
He said the focus of E911 maps was on driveway locations. Each driveway was located at the street using the global positioning system (GPS) and then the distance from the foot of the driveway to the house. The data is supplied to police and fire departments on a disc that can be accessed on a laptop. Maps are provided as image files and addresses are provided as Excel spreadsheets.
E911 will point out variations to its addressing standards, including similar-sounding road names and confusing addresses, for change consideration by town officials.
The project of mapping Wakefield was paid for from a surcharge on phone bills, not by the state or town. The state took over maintenance of the 911 database from Verizon, and New Hampshire is the only state that maintains E911 outside of telephone companies.
The mapping was done based on information from many sources. Road boundaries came from N.H. Department of Transportation boundary files: E911 found several discrepancies in those files, which are highlighted on E911 maps.
Kelleher said that phone users can sign up for alerts via Reverse 911, which allows safety officials to send warnings to specific addresses in an area. Right now E911 can locate people with landline phones immediately, cellphone users can be located geographically through signal tracking. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) users are currently exempt from E911, so those users should sign up for emergency notices too. Kelleher said a link to sign up will be made available soon: it will also added to the town website.
Reverse 911 can be utilized directly by designated trained personnel or through E911, which will then send the alert.
Paul thanked Kelleher for his presentation. He said he wanted to review the letter presented before signing it at the next meeting.
Bill Solimeno met with the board to discuss how houses on Rocky Point Road might hook up to the sewer system. The private road gives access to lots on Lovell Lake off Witchtrot Road, where a main sewer line is located.
Of the 14 lots with houses on that road, Solimeno said 11 families are interested in hooking up and the other three would consider it. Currently all houses have town water but are on septic systems. The residents are concerned about having septic systems so close to the lake. Solimeno said they want to be proactive, to take steps to avoid a potential lake pollution problem.
He has an estimate for a total hookup of $150,000 but expects it would be less. For now at least three will connect. The original connectors would pay a full connection cost and later joiners will reimburse them so that in the end all will pay the same.
Williams said she originally thought Rocky Point owners would have to pay service on the current sewer debt, but she has since learned that they only need to pay connection and user fees.
Paul said he was concerned about the capacity of the current lagoon treatment system. If the town exceeds its capacity a sewer treatment plant would have to be built, and that would be expensive. He thought an engineer should look at the capacity issue. Also Witchtrot Road is scheduled to be repaved shortly.
Solimeno said they were willing to preinstall the hookup pipes to avoid repaving Witchtrot afterward. "We don't have to do the actual hookups today, but we want to address the issues," he said.
It was agreed that the board needs to get data from the state about potential expansion of existing capacity to handle 2,000 extra gallons or so a day and then get back to Solimeno.
Selectmen received an update on the Province Lake Watershed Management Plan from Jon Samuelson, president of the Province Lake Association. See separate story.
The board also had a lively discussion on plans for a new salt shed at the highway department. See separate story on that.
Twombley reported that the Heritage Commission is making progress with the Grange Beth McCrory Museum, which is downstairs in the Grange building and will exhibit stagecoach and transportation items. Upstairs is set up as a Grange Hall. She also said the bell that was originally donated to the fire department, then given to Paul School, and moved to the Grange has been moved to the Freight House. The Heritage Commission is also getting estimates for a proper chimney at the blacksmith shop in Union.
Twombley also attended a board meeting of the Greater Wakefield Resource Center and was impressed with the hard-working group and their work on the building. The board told the Capital Improvement Program that a new roof will be needed there in five years.
The Conservation Commission is discussing private roads and trying to figure out ways to reduce phosphorus runoff and identify the worst spots.
Paul said the board will be entering budget season shortly, with the first meeting on Oct. 2. The board agreed to meet from 5 to 8 p.m. for two Mondays and two Wednesdays (Oct. 2, 7, 14, 16).
Selectmen approved holding Halloween on Thursday, Oct. 31, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Williams reported that Building Inspector Dave Stephen and Code Enforcement Officer Nate Fogg want to redesign the downstairs office by putting up a wall, moving Cheryl Labrie's desk to the middle, setting up a Welfare office and switching spaces. The board approved getting estimates for the work.
She reminded selectmen that they need to decide what needs to be done on the first floor of Town Hall. A plan was done. Paul suggested reviewing it during a budget meeting, noting that the floor has code compliance issues.
The board approved four minor policy changes recommended by Fogg. These included not requiring an inspection for setback permits for structures under 200 sq.ft., not requiring a permit for roofing, siding and non-structural window replacement, simplifying process for gas installation permits, and sending notices to permit holders when their permits expire notifying them that they need to reapply. Paul advocated allowing partial building permits, rather than requiring one for a complete building, so that a house could be built in phases, for example.
Edwards recommended that a letter of appreciation be sent to the Police Department for its good work the past month, including the Henry Blanton Memorial Service. The board agreed.
The next regular meeting of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall meeting room.