Fiscal Policies, Solar Farms and a Small Child

Mattapoisett’s Board of Selectmen meeting, the first in several long weeks since the holiday break, dealt with wide-ranging matters. However, nothing during the night touched those in attendance more than one small boy and his determination to have someone from the town honored posthumously.

Alex Craig, son of Julie Craig, 77 Aucoot Road, came before the board to share his desire to have Milton Silveira, a former town resident, honored for his work with NASA. Craig had done some research on town residents whose lives reached far beyond the town line and he found Silveira. Silveira, Craig told the board, was raised in town and loved Ned’s Point. Craig had the opportunity to strike up a pen pal and phone relationship with Silveira before he passed away. Now Craig has partnered with Silveira’s daughter, and he is asking if the town would honor this man with a bench or some trees at Ned’s Point. Craig said that the Silveira family would seed the project with $1,000 and that fundraising, spearheaded by Craig, would mean that no tax money would be used. This comment elicited charmed chuckles from the board and public. Craig’s presentation of Silveira’s career highlighted his work for NASA on the Apollo and Gemini space programs and his invention of a lightweight breathing apparatus for fire fighters. Craig’s enthusiasm was contagious as the board approved Craig’s request and suggested that a member of the board make a site visit to Ned’s Point with Craig to select the best location for a bench. Craig was thanked for his good work on behalf of this former resident.

In other matters, the Selectmen accepted the resignation of Tricia Weaver from the Recreation Committee, appointed Kathleen Damaskos as a member of the Cultural Council and voted several individuals to the Flood Plain Advisory Committee. Those new members will be: Al Meninno (Water Commissioner); Bill Cantor (town resident); and Carmelo Nicolosi (Board of Health). The Flood Plain Advisory Committee will work with other coastal communities to try to correct FEMA maps and find relief from soaring insurance rates.

N-STAR came before the board to get approval for placement of a stub utility pole to help support a pole already in place on Tinkham Hill Road. This is necessary for the future load that will be carried from the solar farms scheduled for sites on Tinkham Hill and at the closed landfill. The board approved the request. Abutter Pat Aiello asked when the work would begin by Blue Wave on the multi-acre site closest to her home. Town Administrator Mike Gagne said that work would begin in the spring. It was questioned why the work had not begun this winter, as that had been the agreement when the ZBA approved the project – giving the residents respite to enjoy their property during the warmer seasons without heavy construction noises, dirt and disruption. Paul Silva asked Gagne to look into this issue.

The Selectmen publically thanked David Perkins of Peter Briggs Insurance for flag donations, noting that these 8 foot by 12 foot full-sized American flags are being used throughout the community at no expense to the town.

There was discussion about the number of members on the Marine Advisory Board and the Recreation Committee. The selectmen felt that these large boards were having difficulty making a quorum, especially during the winter months when most of their work needs to take place. The selectmen plan on reviewing goals and participation of members of all boards and committees to ensure that time and talent are not being wasted. They agreed to bring in Mike Cormier, a resident of Mattapoisett and harbormaster in Marion, as a consultant to the Marine Advisory Board to help them navigate through a variety of procedural and tangible issues.

In his report, Gagne detailed the work that had taken place to develop Fiscal Policy and Procedures. With the assistance of the Finance Committee and other town departments, these policies and procedures are now memorialized so that best practices will be available for future decision makers. It also allows a working document to be in place now. Matters such as expenditures, expense policy, and procurement are part of the document. Gagne also said that free cash policy – to be used only for non-reoccurring expenses and never for budget balancing – was part of the completed document. The board members accepted the document for approval with the addition of language around expiring debt.

As part of the Fiscal P & P discussion, Gagne stated that the reserve fund is presently $90,000, that the four parts to the stabilization fund are outlined in detail, and that capital improvements and debt management are all incorporated in the document.

Regarding drainage improvement and roadwork, Gagne along with Barry Denham of the Highway Department and members of the water/sewer department, have been working together and will be holding some workshops with MassDOT to investigate funding sources and technical assistance. He said he wanted to ensure that the residents in the village, down stream of Route 6, also had a chance to have their concerns and issues addressed.

Gagne also said that the Board of Health has been looking into new ways to collect solid waste and recyclables. Information is available on the town web site that gives residents collection dates that will change in July. There is the possibility of a new collection methodology that employs containers for solid waste and a single container for all recyclables; that is, putting paper, glass, metal and plastic together.

Completion of improvements to the Beach House will begin soon with upgrades to the restrooms and changing areas, and a handicap access. Selectman Jordon Collyer asked that Gagne set up a meeting with MattSail, who use the Beach House, to engage them in conversation about the future use of the building.

Paul Silva asked Gagne about an education piece for dog owners regarding the ongoing need to be good citizens and pick up dog waste. Gagne said he’d move forward with a mailing to go out in early April. There are eight new doggie rest stations throughout town.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is scheduled for January 28 at 7:00 pm.

By Marilou Newell


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