The weekly meeting of the Board of Selectmen was held on Monday evening, February 3, 2003 at 7:35 p.m.
Present: James F. Morey, Chairman; James M. Hardy, Clerk; Eric W. Greene
Michael Botelho, Executive Secretary
Karen Grabau, Adm. Assistant
Members of the Government Review Study Committee, David Walsh, Elizabeth Hayes, Theresa McNulty and Atty. Joseph Murray met with the Board to discuss the Committee’s Final Report, which was presented to the Board last week.
Mrs. McNulty gave a prepared opening statement.
Mr. Walsh explained the mission of the Committee, meetings held and input received from the public and town officials. Noted that the major concerns were in accountability, communication and leadership and the need to improve in these areas. Stated that the Committee would welcome further input from citizens once they have read the report.
Board and Committee went over the various recommendations in the report and discussed reasons for the recommendation. Among recommendations discussed were:
1. Retain Open Town Meeting
2. Initiate a Recall Petition Procedure
3. Replace Executive Secretary position with Town Administrator position
4. Establish DPW
5. Expand Board of Selectmen to five members
6. Reconfigure Appointed/Elected Boards
7. Establish Town Planner
8. Change Town Clerk position to appointed
Mr. Walsh stated that there were Secondary Recommendations that should also be looked at including recycling, by-law review, improve technology, regionalization of services, update job description, institute job performance reviews and establish Charter commission.
Comments were made by residents and department personnel in attendance.
Mr. Hardy noted that the committee had followed exactly what the Board had commissioned them to do. Stated that the report will not be put away, but will be opened for discussion. Noted recommendation in conclusion that Town Counsel review all of recommendations as to legality.
Mr. Greene thanked the committee for the commendable job they accomplished and noted that this is a great step in the right direction for the Town. Need to consider all recommendations and deliberate on the short and long term issues. Suggested that discussion of the various recommendations could be place on the Selectmen’s agenda for the next few months.
Mr. Hardy stated that the Board needs to move forward with putting into place the Town Administrator through the Town Meeting.
Mr. Walsh requested that residents use the open forum, e-mail or written comment to submit their comments on the report to the Committee.
Mr. Morey thanked the Committee and stated that the Board will take the report under advisement and begin the work to institute the recommendations.
Mr. Morey opened the Continued Public Hearing relative to the Chief of Police’s suspension of Sgt. Thomas Reed and Officer Kevin Sullivan for neglect of duty.
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Present was Chief of Police, John L. Silva.
Mr. Morey stated that the mission of the Board of Selectmen was to look at whether the Chief of Police had just cause to impose the suspensions.
Mr. Hardy stated that he had asked for a one week continuation to digest all the information which the Board had received at the hearing last week. Stated that this has only solidified his first reaction; based on the evidence presented, felt that there was no alternative that to go with the Chief’s actions; saw no reason to invalidate the Chief decision.
Mr. Greene stated that he had been ready last week to make a decision. Noted that there was an article in the newspaper which was very inflammatory; statements were made by Mr. Cooke in article and explained that the reason that the restrictions regarding last call were placed on all liquor licenses was due to a violation in 2000. Explained that an officer observed suspicious activity at a licensed premises, call for back-up, investigated and established that a violation had occurred. A license suspension was imposed. Because of questions regarding last call/closings, the Board determined that all licenses should carry the last call restrictions. In this case all the two officers needed to do was to investigate; that was not done. Agreed with Chief of Police’s decision and stated that he felt that the one day suspension was fair in the
Mr. Morey stated that he agreed that the Chief of Police’s decision should be upheld by the Board. Felt that Police Officers did not investigate as they should have.
M/Hardy, s/Greene, a unanimous vote, move to uphold the decision of the Chief of Police to suspend without pay Sgt. Thomas Reed and Officer Kevin Sullivan.
Mr. Morey closed the Public Hearing.
Mr. Botelho noted that the Board’s decision will be sent to the Department of Human Resources and to each of the officers.
M/Hardy, s/Greene, a unanimous vote, move to approve the minutes of the January 27, 2003 meeting.
M/Hardy, s/Greene, a unanimous vote, move to approve the request of the Viking Sports Parents for use of the Town Common on Saturday, March 22, 2003 from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for a 5k Road Race fundraiser.
Historical Commission members Maryann Roan, Mary Ahern and Margaret Alexander were present. Mrs. Roan presented a letter to the Board from the Commission to Town Counsel requesting advice on actions at 34 Central Street. Mrs. Roan explained that the owner had taken out a building permit to renovate the building and that the building had been demolished without going thru the Demolition By-Law which the Town had passed. Noted that building had been listed with Massachusetts Historical Commission.
A short discussion was held regarding events at the 34 Central Street property.
M/Hardy, s/Greene, a unanimous vote, move to approve the Historical Commission using Town Counsel relative to demolition by-law violation at 34 Central Street.
Gene Ortenzi was before the Board to ask the status of the report from John Delano and his request for restitution of engineering fees relative to his property on North Water Street.
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Mr. Botelho explained that he is still waiting for the Conservation Commission to respond to John Delano’s report.
Board explained to Mr. Ortenzi that they have to wait until they receive a response from the Conservation Commission. Mr. Morey noted that Mr. Ortenzi has received an abatement for his property and this may be the Town’s remedy.
Mr. Ortenzi stated that he had requested the Selectmen’s Office to look into the property at 68 Old Bedford Road. Explained that when he purchased the property there was a Class II license there; went before the Board of Selectmen and Mr. Nisby agreed that the license could be held in escrow until Mr. Ortenzi was ready to use it. Now property has been rezoned and he wanted to know the status.
Mrs. Grabau noted that she was out of the office last week and has not had time to look into the past records. Stated that she will find the minutes for the meeting Mr. Ortenzi attended.
Open Forum closed.
Executive Secretary Report
1. Rubbish Pick-up – problem with smaller roads, Keene Lane; BFI wasn’t picking up trash as there was safety concerns in backing out onto Rt. 18; previously the Highway Dept. was going down and bringing trash out to Rt. 18; have got an agreement from BFI that they will send a smaller truck to pick up the rubbish. Stated that any other resident who is having a problem with their rubbish pickup should notify the Highway Dept.
2. SE Regional School – update by Supt. Hager will be at next week’s meeting
3. Traffic signal request – Wildwood Avenue; letter had been sent to Mass Highway District 5
4. Information on the Governor’s budget reductions received; E.B. reduction is $142,034.
Mr. Greene suggested that the Board’s needs to be proactive in the budget and see that the reduction is taken out of budgets.
Mr. Morey noted a letter from Cong. Stephen Lynch regarding Transportation Equity Act; form relative to criteria for possible eligibility was enclosed. Suggested that the form be filled out as there may be transportation/highway/road needs, which would fall under this act.
M/Hardy, s/Greene, move to close Open Session and go into Executive Session for the purpose of non-union contracts, collective bargaining and pending litigation and will not be returning to Open Session.
VOTE: Yes – Greene, Hardy, Morey; a unanimous vote in favor.
Meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.
Board of Selectmen