January 31, 2013WAKEFIELD — Jim Miller, representing Clearview Community Television Services, met with Wakefield selectmen on Jan. 23 to go over the draft of the agreement between Clearview and the town to provide public access television services.
Clearview is a new organization formed by five Wakefield residents to take over management of the town's public television channel as a nonprofit organization independent of town government and town politics. Besides Miller, the other founding members include volunteer videographer Relf Fogg, Stan Labarra, current Station Manager Jerry O'Connor, and Assistant Station Coordinator Valerie Ward.
Miller said that Clearview has registered with the state as a corporation and is filing an application for Chapter 501 (c) 3 nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service, a process Miller said will take time.
The organization has created it by-laws and adopted the existing public access station policies.
"We don't need a lot of money to get started," Miller said, meaning that the town and Clearview do not need to wait for the Time-Warner Cable contract to be signed and franchise fees received.
As far as the contract itself, Miller said the group "did not re-invent the wheel," but modeled it primarily after the Valley Vision contract with Conway. The Wolfeboro Community Television contract with Wolfeboro was also consulted.
The key contract points touched on by Miller were as follows:
1) The town owns the channel (Wakefield Community Access TV or WCATV) and Clearview is an independent contractor operating the channel and accountable to the Board of Selectmen.
2) The town will own all equipment purchased by Clearview to provide its services.
3) The Board of Selectmen will appoint one representative to sit on Clearview's Board of Directors. According to the draft contract, that representative would be a non-voting member. Selectman Chair Ken Paul asked why the selectmen's representative would be a non-voting member. Miller replied that a five-member board was planned and the selectmen's representative would make a sixth. Paul countered that the rep could be part of a five- or seven-member board. Miller said he would discuss that point with the other four members.
4) Clearview would provide the town with an annual report, as well as semi-annual reports with financial statements and quarterly reports that will include a record of any written complaints received from Wakefield residents and what actions were taken in response. There was some discussion of written complaints, and it was suggested that complaints sent by email should be considered written complaints. It was agreed that verbal complaints would be hard to track.
5) Clearview would be paid quarterly from franchise fees received. Its quarterly request for payment would include a record of total hours broadcast, broken down by the categories Wakefield Government, Wakefield Educational, Other communities government and educational programming, sponsored broadcasts, and privately produced programming broadcast.
6) Funds to pay Clearview would come from Time-Warner franchise fees deposited in the revolving fund already established for the public access channel. Franchise fees for other towns using the channel would also be deposited in this account.
7) The contract would be for an initial period of five years.
8) Clearview would provide coverage and broadcast of all Wakefield town, school and recreation meetings as well as programming produced for Wakefield residents by the school or WCATV itself. Miller emphasized that Clearview intends to help residents produce their own programs and has secured a place in town to do programming as well as train others. The day and time that a given program is broadcast will be determined by Clearview.
Miller informed the board that Clearview has already prepared a videotaped review of the town warrant, with Miller interviewing department heads on specific articles; the video will begin broadcasting the weekend of Jan. 25-27. "The warrant article video is explanatory only – an information resource for voters before the Deliberative Session," Miller said. "I want to make clear that Clearview Community Television Services is not a 'watchdog' group. We are not in the business of swaying people in any direction."
Other issues raised included whether Clearview would need to have liability insurance, how it will pay non-volunteers (as employees or contractors), and the likely amount of franchise fees available to fund the station ($20-30,000).
It was agreed that the next steps would be for Clearview to discuss the issues identified, revise the contract and come to the next selectmen's meeting on Feb. 13.
Granite State Future Project
Cynthia Copeland, executive director of the Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC), made a presentation to selectmen on the Granite State Future Project, which is an update of the Regional Master Plan that SRPC has compiled based on the Master Plans for the towns in its coverage area. The SPRC area includes all towns in Strafford County, plus Brookfield and Wakefield.
A Granite State Future is a statewide project among all nine of the state regional planning commissions, coordinated by the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, and funded through a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). According to Copelandm it involves reviewing the individual Master Plans for the 18 towns in the SRPC region, including Wakefield, and consolidating the goals and objectives of those plans into a Regional Master Plan. The statements made in the town narratives will be organized into six "livability" categories: settlement patterns, housing choices, transportation choices, natural resources, community and economic vitality, and energy efficiency.
According to the granitestatefuture.org website, "Each RPC is tasked with working with local communities and seeking direct input from citizens when developing the regional plan. The intent is to ensure a democratic process and to develop regional plans that reflect local voices. The plans created by each regional planning commission are advisory only, ensuring that local land use decisions remain local."
Copeland said a SRPC staff member is doing the consolidation but the town will be asked to review the result to make sure it accurately reflects what the townspeople want. SRPC will also be surveying residents through outreach events and survey cards. Two senior lunches will be held in Sanbornville in January and February to present plan findings and seek feedback. SRPC is also looking for volunteers to help with the process, particularly in getting feedback from families in addition to seniors.
Wakefield is not an active member of SRPC. Copeland took the opportunity to review projects that the commission has worked on that have benefited the town, including hazard mitigation plans, an economic development plan for the region, watershed management planning that the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance has participated in, broadband mapping and planning for Internet access, culvert assessment following the floods of 2006, 2007 and 2010, and analyzing the safety issues at the entrances and exits to business.
Selectmen Chair Ken Paul thanked Copeland for her presentation and the handouts provided, and she left.
During the first public comment period later in the meeting, Mona Perrault of Rochester said that Rochester and Dover have voted against participating in the Granite State Future Project because of the federal funding involved. Ken Eyring from Windham said he spent 1,000 hours reviewing the program and pointed out that it comes with federal mandates to reduce vehicle miles driven. $100 million is being spent on this as part of a Sustainable Communities Program, with $3 million allocated to New Hampshire. He said HUD has the final say in the use of the data collected and it could use the data to impose regulations. "The RPCs say no mandates will be imposed," he said, "but the goal is to take control of all water in New Hampshire." He presented selectmen will handouts showing the scope of the program, which he claimed involved "unelected people making decisions."
Rosemary Landry of Meredith said she has seen visioning presentations on this program in two communities. "The plan is to take property rights and meter your water," she said.
Ed Comeau of Brookfield said that town would not put out the SRPC survey collection boxes until the commission made a presentation, which they have not done yet.
Conservation Commission Chair Dave Mankus informed selectmen that the owner of the Union Meadows property will not extend the purchase and sales agreement to town elections in March, effectively taking the deal off the table. (See separate article on this topic.)
Selectman Peter Kasprzyk said that a new heating system is being installed in the Greater Wakefield Resource Center the week of Jan. 28. He also reported that the new highway department mechanic had visited the Governor Wentworth Regional School District garage in Wolfeboro and will discuss his findings at the next Joint Vehicle Maintenance Committee.
Paul announced that Tier One Construction will be going ahead with sprinkler installation in Town Hall and the Opera House and will also be doing electrical work. Bids for the sprinkler work came in higher than expected: the board agreed to allocate the full $38,000 available in town funds to that work.
Selectmen agreed to send a letter of appreciation to the Wakefield Food Pantry for all their hard work in getting the new building built.
The board signed contracts with Hale's Landscaping and auditors Vachon & Clukay.
Because of the gap in time to the next regular meeting, selectmen agreed to meet on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 3:30 p.m. to review and approve the accounts payable warrant.
The next regular meeting of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room.