Brummitt Court back before selectmen once again
Deputy Fire Chief Tom Zotti honored
|DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF TOM ZOTTI was presented with a framed certificate recording his successful completion of the four-year Executive Fire Officer Program by Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen Chairman Sarah Silk at the May 18 selectmen’s meeting. (Courtesy photo) (click for larger version)|
May 26, 2011WOLFEBORO — The May 18 meeting of the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen began with a celebration.
Fire/Rescue Chief Butch Morrill announced that Deputy Chief Tom Zotti had successfully completed the Executive Fire Officer Program held at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. The program consists of four resident courses, each with its own research project, and takes at least four years to complete. The aim of the program is to provide senior fire officers with "a broad perspective on various facets of fire and emergency services administration" and to strengthen leadership and decision-making ability.
For Zotti the program took at total of five years, from application to completion. His first class was in 2007.
Selectman Chair presented Zotti with a framed certificate of completion, and the board and audience applauded him for his achievement. Zotti thanked his wife, the town and fellow department members for supporting him through the years it took to complete the program.
Brummitt Court, the open space to the right of the yellow house at 116 South Main St., has been a source of controversy for a number of years. The house was purchased by Frank and Cathy Sykes in 2005 and the property included the court. Townspeople used to use the court as a passage through to Cropley Hill Road. The Sykes attempted to stop the traffic by erecting barriers, and that led first to a suit by abutting property owners who had a deeded right-of-way to use Brummitt Court and then to a petition warrant article directing the Board of Selectmen to lay out a town road that included the court. The abutters won the suit and the Sykes had to remove the barriers. Although the warrant article passed and the town attempted to lay out a road connecting to Cropley Hill Road, however, the Sykes went to court and successfully blocked the town from taking their property.
On April 5 the court approved a settlement agreement between the Sykes on one hand and the three property owners with rights of way to the court – Carole Pineo for her mother Jean Radetzky, Denise Williams and Walter Fawcett of WSK Goddard Limited Partnership. The agreement specified a total right-of-way of 16 feet, including a 12-foot travel lane and a four-foot sidewalk, and allowed the three abutters to improve and maintain the right-of-way, including plowing it. Most importantly it provided that the abutters could request the town to assist them in improving and maintaining the right-of-way.
Public Works Director Dave Ford met with Cathy Sykes, Pineo and Williams on April 26 to discuss the settlement and to ask the town's assistance. Ford estimated that, because of drainage issues, costs could be in the $50,000 range. He also agreed to bring the request to the Board of Selectmen, which he did on May 18. Town Counsel Mark Puffer gave his opinion on April 28 that "the Town cannot spend highway funds for improvements to private property" and that the only way to justify making improvements is to establish the right-of-way as a public way.
Cathy Sykes told the board that her concerns were to protect the house and provide a safe walkway. She said over the years a drainage problem had been created that allowed water to flow to the house, and that recently she had a brick courtyard installed to keep the water away. She did not want a through street created and complained that people still keep cutting through her yard, especially in the tourist season.
Denise Williams said the Sykes improvements made the drainage worse for the right-of-way. She said she simply wanted to see gravel replaced.
Carole and Bernard Pineo supported that request, saying Sykes had dug out the road and put in loam which is now mud. They simply wanted the soil removed and replaced with gravel. Mr. Pineo estimated the cost of reclaiming 4,200 square feet and spreading 77 yards of gravel at "$3,000, tops – a day's work for two men."
Sykes stated no loam was added, just broken paving removed. She said she just wanted to make whatever was installed to look nice – like cobblestones.
Town Manager Dave Owen said that if the parties voluntarily grant an easement to the town for the right-of-way then the town could do the work.
Williams said the neighbors should be able to assign their rights to the town.
Selectman Dave Senecal suggested Owen and Ford meet with the parties on a possible easement and come back to the board with a firm proposal, and the board agreed.
Two days after the May 18 meeting a notice was sent to this newspaper announcing that the yellow house property was for sale for $950,000 and Cathy Sykes' Dragonfly Antiques business was available separately for $250,000.
Ford presented the board with his latest Capital Projects Update Report covering 18 projects authorized by voters from 2006 to 2011. For the most part bids and paving costs are running lower than estimated. Thanks to lower costs Ford said the town will be able to do all three proposed phases on Pleasant Valley Road discussed last month.
The board discussed progress made on developing a Town Assets Management Plan. The planning board has formed a subcommittee and developed a survey form for town buildings and structures. Ford gave his opinion that to create a final plan a consultant would be needed as well as software to manage asset information and maintenance plans. He added that the town should consider whether it makes senses to repair or upgrade some assets or replace them. All agreed the first step was to gather all information needed to develop a plan.
Selectmen also reviewed goals from 2010 to focus in on what should be done in 2011. Doing something about Brewster Hall is still a key priority. Selectman Linda Murray agreed to incorporate the changes and suggestions and bring a new draft back to the next meeting.
In March voters gave the board authorization to sign leases for more than one year. The first use of this authority was to sign a three-year lease with the Wolfeboro Nursery School for the space they have occupied for many years in the recently-renovated Railroad Station. The lease years run from September to June and under the new lease the month rent will increase each year by $10 a month, from $250 a month in the first year to $270 in the last. Nursery School President Krista Marschner thanked the selectmen for providing the stability of a long-term lease.
Selectmen voted unanimously to sign three-year agreements with Primex, the N.H. Public Risk Management Exchange, for property and liability insurance and for workers' compensation insurance. The town has been a member of Primex since 1981. By signing three-year commitments the town caps its property and liability premium increases to seven percent a year while qualifying for a five percent premium discount.
The board reviewed the Monthly Expenditure and Revenue Report for April with Finance Director Pete Chamberlin. So far this year the town has expended 30.85 percent of its budget overall after completing a 33.3 percent of the year. The only areas of concern were in the Public Works budget due to the effects of high fuel prices and in the Welfare budget, which is slightly over budget (35.3 percent expended). Revenues to date are in line with expectations, but Chamberlin expressed some concern about cash flow. With property tax bills going out the week of May 23, revenues will pick up and it may not be necessary to delay some bills.