All things canine garnered most of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen discussion despite a full agenda that contained some important achievements and information.
Many residents came out to get clarification on where dogs are allowed to walk and where they are restricted. Others wanted to voice their concern that dogs were being targeted for fouling the bay waters with e coli, and still others wanted to see higher penalties for dog owners not complying with restrictions currently in place.
Chairman Paul Silva said he had spent some time researching the issue of fecal matter contamination and reported that 400 dogs and associated droppings were sufficient to close the beaches.
“The first thing we have to do is educate the public,” Silva said. He pointed out that Mass Environmental Health Agency had a great pamphlet that could be stuffed in water bills, helping to enlighten the public about the importance of cleaning up after dogs. He also said that fines need to be increased and bylaws reviewed. He went on to say that keeping the ground clean of fecal matter was part of a larger effort to keep our environment clean. Other portions are the sewer project and protecting the aquifer.
Town Administrator Michael Gagne said officials will look at increasing fines. He plans on putting together language for the fall Town Meeting. He said that the Natural Resource Officer Kathy Massey and her staff had been doing an outstanding job in patrolling and issuing tickets. He also said that he had witnessed dogs on the grass park area at Ned’s Point regardless of signage stating “No Dogs Allowed.” Massey said that enforcing the pooper scooper law is challenging. Gagne said the town is looking at installing more dispensing stations.
Kristine Voss, 30 North Street, said, “I’m really pleased to hear we are putting fines in place, when I see other people not picking up I go up to them with a bag.” She, too, felt that education is necessary.
Jean West of Pine Island Road felt that visitors to the town need to understand that Mattapoisett has laws in place regarding dogs. She asked about additional signage.
Becky Lockwood, 2 Mulberry Drive, asked the Board if they had reviewed the bylaws that Fairhaven has in place, and said that its signs seem to be working well for that town, especially around the bike path area.
In other news, Gagne shared with the Board that state funding is available for what is titled “Mattapoisett Corridor Improvements” for Main Street, Water Street, Beacon Street and Marion Road. MassDot’s Highway Division Project Review Committee has deemed the Mattapoisett project eligible for Federal aid. The amount is estimated at $3.75 million for construction, police details, engineering, contingencies and participating utility relocation. The town would be responsible for design, right of way acquisition and environmental permitting.
In a letter Gagne shared with the public dated July 29 from MassDot, it is noted that the eligibility designation is not a commitment of funding. There are several additional layers of government agencies whose agreement is needed to secure funding, such as Southeast Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA), Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GARTA) and Southeast Regional Planning & Economic Development District (SRPEDD).
Regarding the Town landfill photovoltaic proposals, EMI Energy of Boston has been selected and will be meeting with Gagne in the coming days to enter into an agreement.
One of the most inspiring moments of the evening was when the Board thanked the Mattapoisett Fire Department for their fine work in refurbishing the Veterans Memorial Cannon situated on the library grounds. Firefighters Sam Hill, Hayden Vierra and Tim Murray, along with Chief Murray, accepted a plaque for their effort in making this landmark shine again.
Gerry Johnson was also presented with a certificate of appreciation for his 15 years of dedicated service to the school committees.
And rounding out the agenda items were: Bonnie DeSousa receiving permission to move forward in securing grant funding for bicycle stands slated to service several locations throughout the village and school areas; the scheduling of fall Town Meeting for November 18; and the Lions Club received permission to host family movie nights at Shipyard Park.
By Marilou Newell