August 9, 2016
Quorum present: Paul Astorino (PA), Chair; Carol Francesconi (CF); Robert Ciskowski(RC).
Press: Berkshire Courier
Robert read the Board of Selectmen meeting minutes for Tuesday, August 2, 2016; Carol accepted as presented 2nd by Robert with a unanimous vote taken.
Dr. Putnam, ACRSD Superintendent, addresses the Board and asks a series of questions to gauge the thoughts and priorities of the Board regarding the District's education mission.
Dr. Putnam asks 'what are the District's strengths?'. CF responds “parent participation and strong teaching staff'.
Dr. Putnam asks 'what are some of the Board's concerns?' PA responds 'closing of Cheshire Elementary School, loss of students to other Districts and the money that follows them'.
Dr. Putnam asks 'are we headed in the right direction?' RC responds 'no, not in the recent past although your outreach is refreshing. There has been poor communication and we were told that positions would be eliminated and we pushed for a funding override only to find that they were eliminated anyways.'
Dr. Putnam asks 'what should be maintained at all costs?' CF responds 'quality education at all costs, improve rating and re-establish integrity'.
Dr. Putnam asks 'what does District need to work on?' Board responds 'increased overall accountability.'
Dr. Putnam asks 'what are the core values of the community?' CF responds that 'Cheshire has always supported and funded the schools in order to provide the best education that the Town can afford and have supported overrides and has used outside funding to support school budgets.'
Dr. Putnam thanks the Board for their input and notes that he is enjoying his job so far and that it is an interesting challenge.
CF states that she has been in contact with Ray Fisher of the Cheshire Lake District who has provided updates on the recent weed problem. Ray has been working with the weed treatment contractor (Solitude) and that treatments were done on July 20 and August 4. Ray noted that a new problem weed was identified (tape grass) and is very aggressive. Currents and wind have moved the treated, now dead and floating weeds, into large masses, particularly near the spillway and boat ramp. Ray is working on getting the contractor back to mechanically remove the nuisance as soon as possible.
Resident Mike Kruszyna voices his concerns with the current condition of the lake and introduces Dan Miraglia who acknowledges that it is a difficult job to manage a lake then addresses the Board on a variety of his concerns regarding Cheshire Lake, including: weed treatment methodology, lake ecosystems, recreational use of the lake by general public, impact of weed treatment on fishery and overall priorities, which should not be exclusive to lake residents. He adds that idea weed treatment would be selective and leave one-quarter of the weeds intact. He then questions the timing and level of weed treatment saying that it was overkill this year. He adds that the general public should have input into level and type of treatments and questions the current status and process of obtaining the Notice of Intent (NOI) for weed treatment. CF responds that all NOI hearings are open to the public and she doesn't recall anyone attending in the past. Board thanks Mr Miraglia for his input and ill take his concerns under advisement.
PA makes a motion to enter executive session per MGL Chapter 30A, Section 21a(2) “to conduct collective bargaining”, and to return to open meeting session upon its conclusion. CF seconds the motion. Voice vote taken: RC, aye; CF, aye; PA, aye.
With executive session concluded, Board returns to regular open meeting session.
Chief of Police Garner issues his weekly report. Chief Garner discusses sponsoring a candidate to the Part Time Police Academy, adding that there is no cost or hiring obligation to the Town. Board wishes to meet the candidate prior to approving request.
Water Commissioner Rick Gurney states that the Commissioners have requested bids from three qualified vendors to conduct a master plan and related reports for the Cheshire Water Department as required by the DEP. Two bids have been received and the Commissioners are anxious to get Selectmen approval of the low bidder because of the report's urgency. Bids received are from Tighe and Bond at a total cost of $33,600 and Berkshire Engineering Group at $17,210. Mr Gurney notes that the Department has used both vendors in the past and have been satisfied with their work. Following a discussion and based on the recommendation of the Commissioners, Selectmen execute an agreement with Berkshire Engineering Group.
Peggy Richardson speaks to the Board about her concerns over the small number of active Cheshire seniors being served by the Council on Aging. She notes that there are only about 13 active members. She would like to do a town-wide mailing to attract and inform seniors. While the Board is sympathetic, they need to get specific figures on mailing costs before offering assistance.
Highway Superintendent Peter LeFebvre gives his weekly report and notes that he will be on vacation next week and that he has provided the Highway crew with a list of projects to work on. Peter states roadside mowing is continuing.
Town Administrator Mark Webber gives his weekly report including the following items:
Asks whether the Board given any more thought to the MIIA grant options, noting that the Town tree survey is probably not the best idea. Applications are not due for several more weeks.
Board reviews a note from the Town's engineer for Sand Mill Road bridge repair project. Seems like the technical review stage has been completed to the satisfaction of MA DOT. Now it goes to final review by the Chief Engineer. No indication of how long that will take.
Submitted a prevailing wage request for Peter for the Windsor and Wells Roads paving project. They will be attached to the bid package which should be finished up shortly, then advertised and put out to bid. Bids are coming in for other towns between $65 and $70/ton for blacktop in place.
Had a long chat with Ray Fisher last evening after getting a call from the newspaper seeking comment. Ray spoke with the reporter as well. Eagle called back today to say that Solitude is going to address the clean up at no cost to the Town.
Governor Baker has signed this year's budget, including municipal government reforms; several may be of interest to the Town. Will need to investigate the specifics. Also, final State Aid figures are approved for both the Town and the school district (Chapter 70 & 71). Requested clarification from the District on discrepancies between FY '17 ACRSD budget figures compared with actual receipts.
Had a follow up conversation with Nexamp regarding past discussions and recent presentation from Hampshire Power on their virtual net metering program. Still sorting things out to avoid conflicts with the Town's current power agreements.
Board receives a letter from MA DOT (attached) denying the Town's request to install guardrails in the vicinity of 137 South State Street in response to a recent and prior vehicle accidents causing property damage.
RC comments that, while the earlier conversation on Cheshire Lake weed treatment was informative, he notes that comments that the general public should have equal or primary say in how the lake is managed might not sit well with Lake residents who, in the past, have suffered with serious weed issues to the point of receiving tax abatements. Bob adds that Lake residents have put their money where their mouths are and should receive considerations over visiting sportsmen.
CF states that she received a call from Historic Commission member Diane Hitter saying that the State is looking favorably upon the Town's application for restoration funding for the Cheshire Town Hall.
There being no additional business to come before the Board, PA makes a motion to adjourn. RC seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.
Paul F. Astorino, Chairman
Robert S. Ciskowski, Clerk
Carol A. Francesconi, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds