The Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen voted to open the recreational Bay Scalloping Season two weeks earlier in order to take advantage of the upcoming weekends for shell fishing. The decision was made at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, October 9 in Town Hall.
The original start of the 2012 Bay Scalloping season was scheduled for November 1 for both recreational and commercial fishers. November 1 is later than the traditional mid-October start, but Shellfish Warden Kathy Massey had several reasons for delaying the season.
Massey said because the scallops reproduce in the summer, they need the month of October to grow. Also, water temperatures are not quite cool enough to yield the highest amount of scallops. Right now the water temperature is around 55 degrees.
‘The cooler the water is, the better,” said Massey.
Despite Massey’s reasoning, the state’s Department of Marine Fisheries has granted the town access to open the season now, so the town is granting limited harbor access for recreational scalloping two weeks early.
For recreational bay scalloping in the inner harbor, the season will begin on Friday, October 12. Commercial scalloping in the outer harbor can begin on Monday, October 15. Commercial scalloping in the inner harbor will begin on Thursday, November 1.
In other news, the board is looking to meet with the Financial Committee to discuss a repaving of Mattapoisett Neck Road. A project to relay sewer lines is nearly complete, and with the potholes existing in the remainder of the road, the town feels it is the perfect time to repave.
Selectman Paul Silva said the project would cost approximately $220,000 to repave Mattapoisett Neck Road as well as several other side streets. The repaving would keep the roads in good condition for 15-20 years.
The board hopes to meet with the Financial Committee within the next week so they can come up with an estimate to put on the Special Town Meeting Warrant. If approved, the town hopes the project would be completed by May of 2013 before the busy summer season.
The board met with three committees in town to get status updates on their departments. The Police Department, Fire Department and Council on Aging all gave progress reports.
Police Chief Mary Lyons is urging residents to continue to call in any suspicious activities in any neighborhood due to the increased volume of home invasions. Since the weather is getting cooler, Lyons is also encouraging residents to remove any window air conditioning units as most of the culprits from recent break-ins have entered through the windows.
Lyons also informed the board that the new Mattapoisett police cruisers will be Chevrolet Tahoe SUV’s. Since Ford is discontinuing the production of their Crown Victoria model, the station had to choose another vehicle for the department’s use.
Fire Chief Andrew Murray expressed the need for a new facility since quarters in the current station are extremely tight.
“Every square inch is being utilized,” said Murray.
Additionally, the town will need to purchase a new engine in two years after buying a new one just a few months ago to replace Engine 1. A series of upgrades were made to the current station, including new windows and doors, as well as new landscaping and new parking lot pavement. Still, there is not enough space for the department.
Murray’s second priority behind the new building is to increase the number of firefighters. Both Murray and the board cited busy schedules for residents and lack of financial incentive. Murray said he is allotted $80,000 each year to pay 36 community firefighters. Some firefighters can receive as little as $18 a run, he said.
Another hurdle in bringing on new firefighters is the cost to conduct physicals for each new employee the department hires. It costs approximately $240 for each new hire to be examined, and that does not include the cost of tuition to the academy. Last year, the department hired six new firefighters and spent $1,500 on their physicals. Murray said he has lost nearly six officers out of the department since then for various reasons.
Mattapoisett Council on Aging Executive Director Jacqueline Coucci informed the board of the group’s new Outreach Coordinator Kathleen DeMello. DeMello began working last week.
“We are looking to enhance outreach services and target those who are homebound,” said Coucci.
The council has also increased transportation services, making all rides that stay within Mattapoisett $1. The council also added additional trips to the Dartmouth Mall and Wareham Crossing.
“We have had a lot of great response from that,” said Coucci.
The Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen will meet again on Tuesday, October 23 at 7:00 pm in Mattapoisett Town Hall.
By Katy Fitzpatrick