Mattapoisett Town Administrator Michael Gagne announced his retirement during the February 26 meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen. This decision has not been a secret within the walls of Town Hall – it was just a matter of when.
“I’m retiring effective October 15,” Gagne announced with a smile.
Chairman Jordan Collyer said that in about 60 days a job description would be posted. He said they could easily receive 18 or more resumes and that the selectmen may appoint a screening committee to help in vetting candidates.
As Gagne began his monthly report, he said, “How quickly time passes.” He said he has spent 38 years as a municipal professional with 35 of those years in positions of executive administration.
“My experience here in Mattapoisett has been excellent,” he stated. “There is a fine group of volunteers,” he said of the many people who populate various boards and commissions. He said that many ideas have been generated over the years from these volunteers, ideas that have been adopted by other towns. Most noteworthy has been the work that went into positioning Mattapoisett as the first town in the southeast to achieve an AAA rating due in large part to the Town’s financial governance.
Gagne said he has had the pleasure of making many good friends over the 10 years he has been the town administrator, and that team effort was the hallmark of his time spent handling the Town’s business. He hoped he could continue to be of service to the Town after his retirement.
In Gagne’s monthly report to the selectmen, there were several roadway projects and other transportation-related issues, another bit of Town business he has been shepherding through various stages as a variety of grants are being sought.
From the Industrial Drive renovation project where a possible $1 million Mass Works Grant will be pursued to the $450,000 grant being looked at from the state for new pedestrian trails to last, but not least, upgrades to the village streets of Main Street, Water Street, and Beacon. Gagne said there were many exciting opportunities on the horizon. He also shared that a recent public meeting held to discuss a Complete Streets Program was well attended.
Of the village street roadway project, Gagne said that the engineering firm VHB had submitted renovation documents to MassDOT District Five and were now under review.
Gagne also talked about recent population data he downloaded from the Massachusetts Municipal Association website for Mattapoisett. The data clearly demonstrates decreasing kindergarten enrollment numbers that seemed to correlate with declining population numbers for people between the ages of 24 and 44 years of age. An uptick in the number of people living in the community over the age of 60, but younger then 65, also was not a surprise, given that nearly a third of the total population was over 50 years of age.
This data, Gagne said, bore out the need to study whether or not the town needed two elementary schools. He said that the possibility of converting one of the schools into a multi-facility building seemed viable.
“Maybe a professional should be brought in to produce a report,” said Gagne. An evaluation for FY21 so that policy and decision makers can take a look. Maybe it tells us about services needed for that age group,” he concluded.
Continuing on the theme of streets, Paul Silva asked if MassDOT should be asked to study the posted travel speed on Route 6 from Main Street to Prospect Road. The posted speed is 40 in some spans of the state highway, and 50 or more in others. Gagne said he’d follow up.
The historic arched stone bridge spanning the Mattapoisett River on River Road may soon be weight restricted. Gagne reported that Barry Denham, highway superintendent, along with the engineering firm G.P.I, had prepared documents for MassDOT and that those were now under review. The bridge had in recent years suffered several direct hits from large tractor trailers attempting to use the bridge.
Moving to the status of work being done by the Marine Advisory Committee charged with the responsibility of studying every aspect of the waterfront enterprise, they are nearing completion, said Collyer.
The selectmen also discussed the impact that the opening of Phase 1B of the bike path would have on parking at the Depot Street parking lot. Collyer suggested considering that boat trailer parking be allowed at the Town Beach parking lot with overnight parking allowed in several slots.
Earlier in the evening, the annual meeting of the Tri-Town Herring Committee led to discussion of when the Town of Fairhaven would be giving herring run keys to Mattapoisett. Mattapoisett representative Bob Martin and Fairhaven representative Jeff Furtado said that the exchange was imminent. This move will allow Mattapoisett to take control over the Mattapoisett River levels for the first time since the pumphouse located on River Road was built many decades ago. Martin also reported that the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries will assist in replacing a dilapidated fish ladder at the River Road herring weir.
Before the selectmen began their regular meeting, incoming Police Officer Charles Tranfaglia and Sargent Scott LeBlanc were sworn-in to their new positions after the Board of Selectmen moved to accept their appointments.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is scheduled for March 12 at 6:30 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen
By Marilou Newell