The Mattapoisett Select Board revisited the importance of bike safety at Monday night’s meeting.
A request by the South Coast Bikeway, sponsor of the 5th Annual Pedal for the Path, filed a request to set an information table on September 11 at the Mattapoisett Bike Path intersection at Mattapoisett Neck Road. Present was Steve Asser representing the group. Asser said some of the information that will be distributed that day will focus on cycling safety.
The notion of placing a table at what the board feels is already a dangerous intersection was articulated by all members.
“Cyclists are not pedestrians. They are supposed to follow road regulations,” said Select Board Chairman Tyler Macallister, who has frequently voiced his concerns that cyclists sail across the intersection without stopping. Member Jodi Bauer suggested that a police officer be present on September 11 to direct traffic, including cyclists, but the recurring issue was cyclists failing to obey the rules of the road.
“The only thing we are approving tonight is to have a table at the bike path,” said member Jordan Collyer, who then cycled back to bike safety, reporting a recently near miss with a cyclist on Mattapoisett Neck Road. “Everyone should be following the rules.”
The board was united when suggesting Asser work with the town’s police safety officer and to consider placing the information table at the Brandt Island Road intersection with the bike path. Asser agreed.
Also noted by Asser was a September 18 biking event in which groups of cyclists will have a rest stop at Shipyard Park. The bike path will not be part of that event’s course, Asser stated.
The topic would recur late in the meeting when Town Administrator Mike Lorenco gave his updates. Lorenco said that Reservation Golf Club has complained about the volume of cyclists now using Reservation Road, infringing on club members’ field of play and parking in the private parking area at the end of Reservation Road adjacent to the beach. Lorenco said the club’s board recently moved to close Phase 1b’s gate.
Bauer firmly stated, “Close the gate,” presumably forcing cyclists to turn around toward entry points to the west. While Collyer and Macallister were sympathetic of the golf club’s complaints, they were hesitant to close the gate, primarily due to safety concerns. Closing the gate, they said, would limit emergency access.
Lorenco said “No Parking” signs had not yet been installed at the club’s private beach parking area, as he awaited authorization from the club. “It’s going to be a problem when (Phase 1b across Good Speed Island) opens up,” said Collyer. Macallister said, “People can ride on Reservation Road,” a public roadway.
Collyer indicated belief that a close-the-gate vote was taken shortly after the elevated pathway was opened to the public but that things had since settled down. He asked for more details from the club’s management. “We have to find a way to coexist,” he said. Macallister added, “They (cyclists) should stop, look and then cross.”
The old fire station at the corner of Route 6 and Barstow Street was on the agenda when the board met with Attorney Mat Thomas, who is drafting language for a real estate bid of the property. Lot size and lack of parking were noted as possible drawbacks in selling the lot, but an environmental evaluation did not turn up evidence that would inhibit the sale, Thomas stated.
Collyer said that the lot is situated in the Village Business District. Thomas said the bid package will include a stipulation for a $25,000 performance bond. The real estate value of the former fire station has yet to be determined, but the Select Board will make that final decision, it was noted.
Director of Inspectional Services David Riquinha came before the board fee increases for building permits. He said that it had been 30 years since the town increased permit fees. He suggested adopting a cost per thousand feet from $7 to $8 for residential applications and $9 for commercial. Riquinha said that Wareham charges $10 and Fairhaven $12. A public vetting of the increases will be held online at Mattapoisett.net.
Riquinha updated the board on construction plans for bathrooms at the Holy Ghost Grounds. He said an estimate of approximately $123,000 is appropriate. Work could in part be done by students from Old Colony Regional Vocational-Technical High School, in-house staff and subcontractors, he said. The school could not provide plumbing work, as that trade is not currently offered at the school.
The reappointment of Mary Ann Brogan to the Zoning Board of Appeals was discussed with Riquinha. He told the board that numerous attempts to reach Brogan had failed to elicit a response and that Brogan had told the ZBA secretary she would not be seeking reappointment. Collyer suggested sending Brogan a certified letter as a final effort to learn her intentions. The next person in line for a full seat on the board is alternate William Cantor.
Riquinha said that statewide building code also known as the “Stretch Code” is going through the comment-and-edit phases and said that the town should review the advance document to become familiar with the changes and possible impact that the updated code could have on local construction.
A summary of the Stretch Code at Mass.gov notes, “The Stretch Code emphasizes energy performance as possessed to prescriptive requirements, is designed to result in cost-effective construction that is more energy efficient than that built to the base energy code.” The Stretch Code is an essential part of the Green Communities program.
In a follow-up, Riquinha said he is advising the board to become familiar with the changes as currently proposed but that it is premature to make changes locally before all the language has been fully adopted at the state level and understood at the local level. He said there were many aspects to the Stretch Code with much work remaining to be done.
That said, Riquinha is also suggesting a slow approach to the Green Communities program. In a follow-up, Lorenco reported that 286 out of 351 municipalities in Massachusetts have adopted the program and receive state grant funding.
The board met with Mattapoisett Land Trust President Mike Huguenin and Allen Decker of the Buzzards Bay Coalition. The MLT sought and received approval to convey a conservation restriction to the BBC for the Alves property located along Mattapoisett Neck Road and abutting the Mattapoisett River.
Several routine appointments were made by the board covering volunteer committees as the Historical Commission and Council on Aging board. Lorenco reported that work on Industrial Drive has begun and that a draft of the Emergency Management Plan has been completed by Police Chief Jason King, who was thanked for his efforts as head of the EMP.
State Open Meeting Law was discussed briefly when Lorenco noted that he has been advised of errors and omission to the law emitting from Town Hall by a resident.
Lorenco read from a prepared statement, “I recently received a call … the gentleman called to dictate errors and omissions that the Town had performed which are violations of the state’s Open Meeting Law … he noted the Town failed to provide a detailed list of tonight’s appointees … that has been rectified with Addendum posted with a revised agenda … the Town also had not provided details of executive sessions, specifically the contracts being discussed. To further rectify this matter, the Town will be providing a list which will be posted on the Town’s website in due time of previous meetings and the contracts discussed … minutes of these sessions are available to the public once approved by the board.”
Lorenco went on to say that errors and omissions are not deliberate, that the Town needs to make proactive changes and that he and several other Town employees would be taking state Open Meeting Law training to properly comply with all regulations.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Select Board was not scheduled upon adjournment.
Mattapoisett Select Board
By Marilou Newell