After numerous meetings which have taken place over several years, the Mattapoisett Select Board was caught off guard as they met with VHB, the town’s village street planner. Coming before the board were Shawn Giatas and Jamie Pisano to discuss the massive roadway improvement project for the village streets Main Street, Water Street and Marion Road.
Just a few minutes into the meeting, the board and those in attendance learned that instead of 11 trees slated for removal, the number had jumped to 36. One could have heard a pin drop.
Pisano explained that after meeting with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the federal agency scheduled to help fund the project, preliminary designs were deemed unacceptable. There were more trees that would have to be removed in order to provide adequate utility easements and mandatory sidewalks. He told the board that VHB was looking for guidance on how to move forward, given this difficult news.
Select Board member Jordan Collyer didn’t bite his tongue, saying, “How did we get this far and not know this sooner?” The original design concept showed the removal of 11 trees.
Longtime Tree Committee and Select Board member Jodi Bauer quietly said, “That’s too many trees.”
Select Board member Tyler Macallister said it would be difficult to ask residents to accept the loss of so many trees. “People will be on my front lawn,” he said.
Tree Committee member Michael Immel asked to be put on the board’s agenda to discuss the matter further. He also noted concern that trees not slated for removal will be negatively impacted by construction that would undermine deep-root systems.
VHB was asked to go back to the conceptual-design drawing board and bring something back that the town could work with in terms of tree removal.
Also meeting with the board was Andrew Nelson of Childs Engineering Corporation, the Bellingham-based firm that is working on Long Wharf’s rehabilitation project. He reviewed the soil report which confirmed initial belief that the wharf was built well and with materials that can be reused or left in place moving forward. “We can adjust to it,” Nelson commented regarding the materials.
There was discussion around whether manufactured stone is viable or if granite, a more expensive material, should be used and if concrete is reasonable for infilling the wharf.
Marine Advisory Board Chairman Carlos DeSousa gave the Childs report high marks and said that in terms of material, granite is widely used throughout the area, including Bristol, Rhode Island and Maine.
The board members did not agree on how to advise Childs on which materials to estimate the job with concrete or all granite. Macallister and Collyer both believe granite would stand the test of time, while Bauer opted for a hybrid solution using some concrete and some granite. Preliminary estimates range from $8,000,000 to $12,000,000, depending on materials.
In the end, Childs was asked to produce several conceptual designs that could be used in public engagement meetings.
Earlier in the meeting, Meghan St. John and David Nicolosi received approval for an all-alcohol license for What the Taco.
Also, the board appointed Matthew Desrosiers as a part-time civilian EMT.
Town Administrator Mike Lorenco shared that the Holy Ghost grounds-reuse survey deadline is September 17. He said some 500 surveys have been submitted thus far.
Lorenco announced that the Town Meeting warrant will open on September 26 and close on October 10. Town Meeting is scheduled for November 6 at Old Rochester Regional High School auditorium at 6:30 pm.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Select Board was not announced upon adjournment.
Mattapoisett Select Board
By Marilou Newell