The Board of Selectmen met with Jim Farmer at Tuesday night’s meeting to discuss the town’s summer band concerts.
“I just wanted to say, as far as how things have been going the past few years, we’ve had a phenomenal crowd at the concerts. It’s been fantastic every season. We’ve been very pleased with it and we look to keep it going from year to year,” Farmer said.
Chairman Jordan Collyer asked Farmer if there were any issues that needed to be addressed, but Farmer said that things have been running smoothly.
Town Administrator Mike Gagne said they asked Farmer to the meeting to thank him for his hard work.
“We just want to thank you for putting in a lot of time and taking care of all the details,” said Gagne.
“I’ve had a great time for the last 15 years and I’ve been having a blast,” Farmer said.
“It’s great to see that many people. It’s definitely been improving over the years,” said Collyer.
Next, the Board of Selectmen met with Horace Field, the Mattapoisett Harbormaster, and Alan Gillis from the Marine Advisory Board, to discuss the new job description they have drafted for the Harbormaster position. Field will be resigning his position once a new candidate is found.
“What we have done with the job description, and all the job descriptions for any of the positions in Mattapoisett, is that we’ve had them now going for full review. Mattapoisett’s job descriptions were very antiquated. They were not up-to-date with Americans With Disabilities Act,” said Gagne.
The new draft of the Harbormaster position includes all past and updated responsibilities for that role.
“Our objective is to get a job description for all the duties and functions that we expect a Harbormaster to be on for the future. There have been some dramatic changes and improvements in efficiencies that have been done. We’re looking to dovetail off of that,” said Gagne.
He said, in addition to maintaining the boat count in the harbor and providing on-shore services, the new Harbormaster would be responsible for enforcing the new aquaculture regulations.
Gagne said that Field will be an integral part in choosing the right candidate for the next Harbormaster.
“I know I’ve voiced my concern about the state law in reference to Harbormasters and the amount of authority, the latitude they have. Times change and if direction can’t be given to any individual based on what the people within a town want, we’re not going to be successful,” said Clerk Paul Silva.
Gagne said that the town adopted a system for evaluating public officials that works fluidly with communities, rather than setting up specific requirements that must be met.
“I don’t know how you do what you’ve done in your tenure as Harbormaster. But nine years ago when I came into office in 2004, I didn’t think the harbor would be in the state that it is now,” Collyer said.
He cited the work of the Marine Advisory Board and the new grid system set up for vessels anchored in the harbor as major accomplishments.
The lengthy job description for the Harbormaster better meets state and federal guidelines than what was previously in place. Evaluations will be the responsibility of the Town Administrator.
Some new aspects of the job description include changes to record-keeping procedures, being able to pass a physical exam (as part of receiving a captain’s license), and adhering to a notification process should there be a lapse in any medical certification held by the Harbormaster. Some of the new duties would lighten the workload of other public services that may be under-staffed.
Collyer said that there are enough projects and enough work required based on the new job description to merit the position being salaried full-time.
The Board then spoke with Field about replacing the Barstow Float and his idea for a dinghy float.
Field said that he has spoken with some engineering companies regarding the cost of replacing the existing float.
He also presented his idea for a dinghy float to be located near the Barstow Float.
“You’re going to be able to put about 26 dinghies there at $125 a piece per year. If we just put a float like we were going to, it’s not going to make us any money. It never has. This will, probably in 10 years, do it for us,” Field said.
“We finally have the authorization to reconfigure the existing dinghy dock,” said Collyer. Field said that they are beginning that project later this fall.
“In the future, say you needed more dinghy space there, you could put another 10 by 20 there, and make a horseshoe,” said Field.
“The game plan on this float, the Capital Improvements Committee reviewed this with Horace for the spring Annual Meeting,” said Gagne. Now that they have a game plan and are acquiring cost estimates, the project can be brought to the fall Town Meeting for public vote.
“I don’t see any problem,” Collyer said. “I love the fact that we’re going to move forward with this.”
Then, Mike Gagne presented his Town Administrator Report.
Highway surveyor Barry Denhem was present to update the Board on the recent road construction. According to Denhem, the projects are being completed on budget, flooding issues have been alleviated and water quality tests have been better than ever.
“Between the sewer rehab last year and the drainage rehab this year, we’re beginning to see positive results,” he said. “We made real good use of funds and we really got our bang for the buck. Now we’re looking toward next year’s projects, and hope we’re successful in getting the $200,000 from the Town Meeting in May.”
Gagne then spoke to the Board regarding the historical restoration work on the stone of the town piers.
“All the capstones that are there have iron pins that join the capstones together. Best that I can tell, they probably were the original ironwork of those piers when they were built in the 1800s. What’s concerning is some are rotting out where they are leaded into the stone. They cold-drilled into the stone and leaded the pin into that. And of great concern is that some of these have rotted in the middle. You have these major, what I call daggers or spears, which have been rotted out. Some of the iron retainers that hold the pilings are also rotted off or snapped off and the pilings are moving around. When they were built, they were loose-fit stones. What I’m doing is I’m preparing a proposal for the Community Preservation Act for work for restoration of those wharfs,” said Gagne.
The town would look to hire a mason and a blacksmith who could restore the structures close to their original form.
“It might actually be a multi-year phased project. You could be looking at quite a bit of money for this kind of work. It’s a specialty,” Gagne said. While a solid cost estimate has yet to be established, Gagne said it could cost between $100,000 and $250,000. He wants the project to be brought up at the fall Town Meeting for the public’s consideration.
“Mattapoisett, as we know it today, if it weren’t for those wharfs, would have a much different look than what we see now,” said Silva.
Gagne then spoke to the Board of Selectmen about the date for the upcoming fall Town Meeting.
“We’d be looking at November 19 as the date for a special fall Town Meeting,” he said. Gagne would like to limit the number of items on the Town Warrant in order to address only current pressing issues.
The Town Administrator then addressed the local hazard mitigation planning grant, money from FEMA that can be used to help repair damage after a major weather crisis.
In other business:
• The Board of Selectmen voted to proclaim October 24 as United Nations Day.
• The Board voted to sign and approve the Sewer Rate Relief Fund for FY13 distribution. According to Gagne, Mattapoisett has over $537,000 available via state funds in order to help offset costs of repairs and renovations to the town sewer system.
• The Town of Mattapoisett will be acquiring repair estimates for damage inflicted on the Ned’s Point Pillar, which was recently struck by a delivery truck.
• Gagne will be compiling a series of dates during which to conduct Town Counsel interviews.
• Gagne will be posting a letter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts outlining changes in catering licenses for companies that would also like to serve alcohol to clients.
• The Town has a tentative start date for the Eel Pond East Channel dredging project of October 10.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen will be on Tuesday, October 9 at 7:00 pm at the Town Hall.
By Eric Tripoli