ORR Track Piques CPC’s Interest

Mattapoisett’s Capital Planning Committee continued its review of departmental needs exceeding $10,000 and with a lifespan of up to 10 years when its members met on February 24.

            Coming before the committee with Mattapoisett School District capital expenses was Old Rochester Regional School District Facilities Director Gene Jones. In the FY22 column are listed $25,000 for the continuation of floor repairs to Center and Old Hammondtown Schools, along with a $50,000 sum for telephone updates.

            Regarding the floors, Jones said that every other year he plugs in the $25,000, given that the floors are continuously repaired in a loop and, by the time all floors are repaired, it’s time to start the process. He said he manages the expense in this manner so that, “You’ll never see a big bill.”

            Jones was also asked why what seems to be a maintenance expense is listed as a capital expense. “It started out as a capital expense for the whole floor,” he said, explaining that former Town Administrator Mike Gagne had instructed him to “do it this way.” Jones conceded that the expense could also become part of the school’s maintenance budget but added, “It does meet the criteria for a Capital Planning expense.”

            The local schools’ current telephone system, which operates on older technology, copper transmission lines, was then discussed. Jones said he wanted to move the telecommunications to a modern voice-over I.P system with high-speed internet conductivity. “It would be 40 percent more reliable than then what we have today,” Jones said, emphasizing added security and safety that a modern system would provide.

            CPS Chairman Chuck McCullough asked Jones to provide maintenance costs for the current system to help the committee understand the cost-savings benefits of a newer system. Committee member Mike Rosa thought that possibly bundling the schools’ upgraded equipment with other departments might be prudent, with member Ellen Driscoll adding that upgrades could be phased in over time.

            Town Administrator Mike Lorenco said, “If we can consolidate some of these contracts when we go out to bid, we’ll do that.”

            Although the capital needs of ORR Junior High and High School were not on the agenda, the subject did come up, given that Jones oversees those facilities as well. “My list contains $132,000 for the track and $25,000 for asphalt repairs to the parking lots,” said Jones. Lorenco asked, “How are you going to fund the track? …I don’t know how the district is approaching it.” Jones conceded he did not know the answer. “That’s a big question,” Lorenco said. “They have to know how they are going to fund it. I don’t have space for another $100,000 for the track; that’s why you develop a 10-year plan.”

            Also coming before the committee was soon-to-be-retired Highway Surveyor Barry Denham. For FY22, Denham has listed $250,000 for road improvements and $84,000 for a sidearm mower. Road improvements would include sidewalk construction at the intersection of Pearl and Hammond Streets and Route 6. Denham explained that the $230,000 annually received from the state’s Chapter 90 program only covers a fraction of all the work needed. “It’s usually in excess of $500,000; I can’t do it with just Chapter 90 money. We can’t repair roads without appropriations,” Denham said.

            Denham said the Industrial Drive roadway improvement would cost the town $750,000 as part of the grant received, but that other projects like the repaving of River and Crystal Springs Roads would cost up to $400,000.

            “There are 47 miles of town roads. To keep up with maintenance, we’d need to do two miles every year,” Denham stated. But he said that the department hadn’t received any funds for the last two years. “You can’t get me enough money for all the roads,” he concluded with a chuckle. “The best thing to do is to assign a sum to each road on a rotating basis, a program that is dollars-driven so we can work on a particular number of roads every year.”

            Lorenco said it is planned to allocate a portion of the revenue generated from the town’s landfill solar array to roadway improvements. “Having a dedicated source of funding would be ideal; that’s the goal,” he said.

            Before adjournment, Lorenco told the committee that he is looking into making Mattapoisett part of the state’s Green Communities program. “Right off the bat, we’d receive a $134,000 grant.” He said it would take about two years to receive certification.

            McCullough said that, after the committee completes the FY22 review, it will focus efforts on crafting a far more detailed 10-year plan.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Capital Planning Committee was scheduled for March 3 at 5:30 pm.

Mattapoisett Capital Planning Committee

By Marilou Newell

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