MassDOT Denies Memorandum Language

            Mattapoisett Select Board Member Jordan Collyer, in talking Tuesday night about the opening of the Mattapoisett Bike Path Phase 1b, made his feelings very clear.

            “The MOU is going to be the problem,” said Collyer, referring to a “memorandum of understanding” between the town and the state, in which areas of responsibility for the pathway, including the raised boardwalks are committed to a binding document.

            When asked why he believed the MOU would be a problem, Collyer responded, “We sent them a letter after legal review, and they sent it back denying some items.” Collyer called the denied language as “nonnegotiable” as far as he was concerned. “It’s a kick in the teeth, in my opinion.”

            Collyer said that he had just received an email from Massachusetts Department of Transportation, letting the town know some included language was denied and that the other board members had not seen the state’s response yet, nor had this topic been included in the posted agenda. Collyer indicated that once the full board reviewed the state’s comments, they could discuss next steps.

            Coming before the board to discuss CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) and ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding were Plymouth County Treasurer Thomas O’Brien and Plymouth County Commissioner Jared Valanzola. O’Brien commented on the high level of cooperation and work done by the town’s financial team headed by Town Administrator Mike Lorenco.

            O’Brien applauded Mattapoisett’s willingness to accept funding geared to assist communities with unforeseen expenses related to the pandemic and to aid communities with major systems such as water and sewer. He said that Plymouth County has received $1,085,000 in CARES funding.

            Lorenco reported that Mattapoisett’s portion of ARPA funding currently being held by the county is $1,115,000, a sum that will be audited by local county officials as required by the federal government. O’Brien said that by managing the funds through county offices, towns are relieved of this arduous process. Lorenco said the town has also received $696,000 of ARPA funds and handled the paperwork for that sum in-house. O’Brien said that ARPA distributions go through four levels of review.

            ARPA funding may be used for such category of need as improvements to infrastructure, broadband, public health, HVAC and public safety.

            O’Brien thanked Collyer for his work at the county level for the last 20 years as a member of the Plymouth County Advisory Board.

            In other business, Chairman of the Mattapoisett Cultural Council Kathleen Damaskos asked the board to consider increasing the amount of funding the council receives for grants from $5,500 to $11,000. She said every year some grant requests have to be denied due to a lack of funding. Collyer suggested $15,000, given the council had not received an increase since being established years ago. Damaskos also asked for an annual increase of 10% moving forward. The board took that under advisement.

            Lorenco told the board that work is nearly complete on the FY24 budget, with Capital Planning and the Finance committees ready to complete their departmental reviews.

            Earlier in the meeting, the board approved the final design for the reconstruction of Old Slough Road. They also opened the Town Meeting warrant, which will remain open until March 28. The board also appointed Amanda Robinson as the town assessor. Lorenco noted that a March 28 public hearing will be held to review the new Harbor Rules and Regulations.

            Lorenco told the board that there has been a seasonal uptick in calls complaining about dog waste not being removed by dog owners. Member Jodi Bauer asked, “How do we go about enforcing the bylaw?” The town bylaw imposes a fine of $10 if the offender can be located. “Please pick up after your dog,” implored member Tyler Macallister.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Select Board is scheduled for Tuesday, March 28, at 6:30 pm.

Mattapoisett Select Board

By Marilou Newell

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