Monday night, the Board of Selectmen said goodbye to dutiful town official, Gregory Howes, as he stepped down after two years of service on the board. In his place, Steven Ng, an architect, was happy to sit in on his first meeting.
The board also had another shift in its internal makeup as Elise F. Woodward passed the torch of chairman to Selectmen Carmin Reiss.
Town Meeting Follow-Up: Bottled Water Ban
Selectmen spent a good amount of time Monday night discussing several updates to Town Meeting articles as they begin to take shape.
The highly debated single-serving PET bottled water ban is moving forward as Town Clerk Anita Tekle has submitted the official passing of the article onto Attorney General Martha Coakley in hopes of her acceptance of the new bylaw in order for it to become law.
Town Meeting Follow-Up: W.R. Graceland and Solar Arrays
Concerning Articles 35 through 37, the authorization, purchase and potential lease of W.R. Graceland on 214 Main Street for building solar power arrays, the Selectmen are speaking with officials at the Concord Municipal Light Board (CMLB) to evaluate and get in contact with available consultants for the project. The ultimate purpose is now to create a five-acre site design plan for the arrays. Selectmen are hoping to get some information on specific kilowatt capacities of these five-acre arrays and then relate them to the CMLB in order to understand just how much energy-savings the land could potentially offer.
Leading the discussion, Elise F. Woodward stated, “these solar installations will support the solar strategy of the Light Board. The three to nine month time frame [it takes to evaluate the land] will allow us to take up conversations about the conservation restrictions possibilities on the land and uses for the public and also get feedback from the public […] There are many interests here from several Town departments.”
Jeffery Weiland brought up the fact that if these measures take place and solar arrays are built, the town will have to look for a new place for its composting site. The other alternative is to talk to perspective leaser, Walden Woods Project, about keeping the compost site next to the arrays.
Town Meeting Follow-Up: Animal Handler Idea not Dead?
Stanley E. Black informally brought up the idea that was rejected at Town Meeting of expanding the role of the part-time dog officer into a full-time animal control officer.
“I think it could be useful to the town to deal with all the wild life and it's something we might want to kick around a little bit," he said.
Board members agreed a good first step would be to bring in some police officials and the current dog officer to discuss the realities about what it would take to hire a full-time animal control officer.
Chris Whelan stepped in by adding, “if we want to go in on an animal control officer, and I've actually spoken with several police officers about this and they could use the help, it may be outside the current staff we have and possibly we would have to look to what other towns in the area do and maybe even regionalize the job.”
Selectmen said they would do all they could to reach out to selectmen in other towns, like Lincoln and Bedford, to perhaps combine resources on the issue, or at least get recommendations.
Whelan said he would take the reigns on this issue but was doubtful any current police staffer would take on extra responsibilities or training, later targeting the overall cost being a problem when he related, “the need does exist, but the money right now is not there.”
Town Meeting Follow-Up: Negotiations to start for Laws Brook Road
With Special Town Meeting Article 2 passing and giving the Selectmen the authority to work towards purchasing 51 Laws Brook Road, debate began on how best to investigate the issue. Board members noted they will start by meeting with current owners, the Andrews family. However, funds for the purchase aren't available until mid-July, so up until then, there will only be a couple months of questioning. Added to this, funding to do anything with the land, either demolish the home that sits there or construct anything new, wasn't appropriated in Article 2. Selectmen will have to wait to raise that issue at next year's Town Meeting.
Town Meeting Follow-Up: Selectmen Hope to Meet with Van Loon
Selectmen wanted to bring Town Meeting Moderator Eric Van Loon in to talk with the board about procedures at Town Meeting. Specifically, the board wanted to clarify what happened during the bottled water ban re-votes which may have been handled incorrectly in the pell-mell that ensued during some points during the heated debate and vote.