Rochester Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar told the Board of Selectmen during its September 20 meeting that she will not be renewing her contract when it expires on June 30, 2022.
“This decision for me was extremely hard,” said Szyndlar, who said it has been an honor to serve the Town of Rochester in the lead administration capacity the past six years. Noting it is time to move onto the next chapter in her life, Szyndlar acknowledged the emotion and said, “Working with a great team of professionals to serve in our community has been a pleasure.”
Acknowledging Szyndlar’s professionalism in giving the selectmen “plenty of time to search,” Chairman Brad Morse led the selectmen in publicly thanking her for her service.
“I feel like we’ve accomplished a real lot in the last five years, financially and structurally,” said Szyndlar. “I have loved my job, but it’s time…. It’s bittersweet for me.”
It was on Monday night’s September 20 agenda for the selectmen to sign the warrant for the October 18 Special Town Meeting, but Selectman Woody Hartley stopped short on making the board’s recommendation of Articles 2 and 3 official because the Finance Committee had not yet made its recommendation.
“We’ve never done this without the Finance Committee being here,” said Hartley. Morse suggested the selectmen hold their vote on the articles in question and make their recommendation no later than on Town Meeting floor.
Articles 2 and 3 address the Assessor’s office, No. 2 a $10,000 commitment to install a camera for the ongoing valuation of property, and No. 3 a $3,000 commitment toward the Assessor’s supplemental budget for software and support.
Szyndlar told the selectmen that the Finance Committee has a meeting scheduled for Monday, October 4.
Otherwise, the selectmen voted line by line in the affirmative for the warrant, making the recommendation to town voters that the Old Rochester Regional School District Agreement and a stabilization fund for the district be accepted. ORR’s capital stabilization fund will presumably address smaller capital items that cannot be budgeted via maintenance.
Other big-ticket items include Article 12, which proposes the transfer of $200,000 to the Road Improvement Stabilization Fund, Article 13, which proposes the transfer of $300,000 to the town’s regular Stabilization Fund, and Article 11, which paves the way for negotiations for solar-canopy construction over town-owned parking lots based on a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) model.
The selectmen also voted to support renaming the Board of Selectmen the Select Board.
In a continued public hearing, the selectmen approved SEMASS’s application to modify a Flammable Fluid License to store fuel oil in excess of 2,000 gallons pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 148, Section 13 and 527 CMR 126.96.36.199.4 on property located at 141 Cranberry Highway. Fire Chief Scott Weigel recommended approval.
In her Town Administrator’s Report, Szyndlar announced more funding has come to Rochester in Green Communities grant funding: $102,000 for energy conservation measures, weatherization and LED lighting for Rochester Memorial School, and SRPEDD-related plans for Town Hall. Altogether, Rochester will have received over $308,000 in grant funding, $135,000 in 2020 and $172,000 in 2021.
Szyndlar also said the soft recycling program has gone digital. Collections are no longer being made on a set schedule, but residents can schedule an appointment online with Simple Recycling and deliver clothing, jewelry, shoes, sleeping bags, tools, dishes, pots, pans, and backpacks.
“Anything under 50 pounds (is acceptable), it does not have to fit in the pink bag,” said Szyndlar.
Conservation Commission Chairman Chris Gerrior came before the selectmen to report the resignation of Lena Bourque and to recommend Bill Milka for appointment. Bourque expressed an interest in remaining with the ConCom in the advisory role of associate member per appointment by the commission. The selectmen voted to approve Gerrior’s requests and to publicly thank Bourque for her longtime service to the town.
In other business, the selectmen voted to sign the appointment of new Town Treasurer Kory Lydon, who starts on Monday, September 27. The board also voted to approve the Rochester Historical Commission’s request to post a plaque at Town Hall.
In a special meeting with the Public Safety Committee and the Emergency Planning Committee held on September 15, the selectmen presided over the first official Constitution Way Safety Discussion.
For many years, Constitution Way has given Rochester village a stately presence as Town Hall, the meeting house, and First Congregational Church sit on the same parallel, but the emerging danger of eastbound traffic speeding down Rounseville Road and using Constitution Way as an exit ramp is endangering people exiting the buildings because there is no buffer between the last step and the roadway.
“No one’s gotten hit, but there have been some close ones,” said Morse. “I was one of the close ones,” said Selectman Paul Ciaburri.
According to Szyndlar, Highway Surveyor Jeffrey Eldridge will spearhead the effort to determine, design, and secure funding to construct a long-term solution. The initial concept is to divert vehicular traffic flow around back of the public buildings and maintain Constitution Way for pedestrian traffic.
In other business from the September 15 meeting, seven new COVID-19 cases were reported last week, and a vaccination clinic will be held on September 29 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. On October 12, the Board of Health will host a flu vaccination clinic.
Police Chief Robert Small has grant funding pending on the purchase of 41 cameras and has also been told the town will be awarded grant funding to round out its fleet of police cruisers with high-end laptop computers.
The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen will be held on Monday, October 4, at 6:00 pm.
Rochester Board of Selectmen
By Mick Colageo