Members present: William Cavanaugh, John Murray
George Fuller, absent
Others Present: Tony Blair, David Bonney, Bill Brownhill, Colleen O’Connor, Alice Briggs, Gene Pike, Al & Tracy Lussier, Pat Mullins, Melissa Provencher, Geri & Doug Walter, Ginger Conner, Tom Biolsi
7:00 PM Meeting opened.
Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: Bill gave a description of how much money was donated to the Neighbor to Neighbor Fund from Becket residents. Becket residents donated $5,548.14 and the Berkshire Taconic Foundation donated $14,000.00 for a total of $19,548.14 that is available to assist Becket residents. Bill advised that he spoke with the assessors about how cell towers are taxed. Briefly discussed this issue. Bill advised that there is a Seven-Town Advisory Committee meeting on January 27, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at Nessacus Middle School in Dalton. Tony advised that there is a conflict with this meeting because there will be a public hearing on that night for the CDBG. Bill will attend the Seven-Town Advisory Committee meeting in Mike Falk’s place.
The Selectmen reviewed minutes of the previous meetings. John motioned to accept the minutes of January 6, 2010, Bill seconded. Motion passed.
Town Administrator’s Report: Tony advised that the third quarter preliminary tax bills will be going out early next week. He also advised that he has submitted the District Local Technical Assistance Grant that is asking BRPC to help assess drinking water quality issues in North Becket village. He also advised that Becket has participated in a regional application along with thirteen other towns that is sponsored by the Town of Sheffield to procure software that assists in the permitting process.
Tony advised that he spoke with Lenny Tisdale regarding the maintenance of vehicles. Lenny buys the oil in bulk for all of the town vehicles. Each department is responsible for the filters and other parts. He advised that this system works well and does not feel that it needs to be changed.
Tony advised that prior to starting work as town administrator he attended training sessions to become a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official. He just found out that he has been certified as a MCPPO. The Selectmen congratulated him.
Tony received an invitation to attend a meeting regarding broadband on February 6, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Northampton. Tony is planning on attending this meeting and welcomed anyone else who would like to attend. There is a company who has successfully installed a broadband system in rural Vermont and this is the focus of the meeting.
Tony reminded the Selectmen that there is a public hearing for the final draft of the 2010 CDBG application on next Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at the town hall.
Tony advised that John Hall and Ray Tarjick will be attending the Central Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee meeting tonight.
Public Input: None.
Melissa Provencher and Al Lussier addressed the Board regarding gas tank issue at the Becket General Store. Tony began by explaining the history of the tanks that are currently on the property and the testing that has been done up to now. Melissa Provencher explained the Brownfield Program. She advised that the Brownfield Committee will be meeting to discuss the issue with the gas tanks and she would like to know how the Selectmen and the public felt about whether the store has gas or not. Tom Biolsi, the representative to TRC, the company that has performed the testing on the property, explained what testing has been done and the results of these tests. So far the results have shown minimal contamination. He also explained that private drinking wells were tested for contamination and
none were found to have any contamination. Colleen asked how they chose the private wells to test. Mr. Biolsi advised that they chose the wells that were closest to the area where the tanks were. He also explained that when the tanks are removed then there will be more testing of the soil that is under the tanks to see if there is contamination. Briefly discussed what would need to be done if contamination was found under the tanks. Melissa Provencher explained that the Brownfields Committee, at their next meeting, would discuss waiting until the spring to remove the tanks and appropriating funding in case there is contamination found. She advised that the Brownfields Committee could not use funding to purchase new tanks. Al Lussier explained that to install new tanks at the store would cost more than he is able to afford. Ginger Conner spoke about the issues during the ice storm that resulted from the town not having any gasoline
available. People who needed gas for chain saws and other equipment had to go out of town to get gas and it was very inconvenient and may have held up the cleanup effort. Bill asked if not having the gas tanks would affect the store. The Lussier’s advised that the store is doing very well and it would not affect the store very much if they did not have gas but they feel that the people would be let down it they did not have it. Tony advised that he spoke to Pam Malumphy, the Berkshire County Representative of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, regarding this issue and she advised that there may be grants available for funding the new tanks. Briefly discussed low interest loans for this purpose. John motioned to send a letter supporting the installation of new gas tanks to the next Brownfields Committee meeting, Bill seconded. Motion passed.
Tony began discussion of pending CDBG application. He gave a summary of the proposed application. Part of the grant would go toward housing rehab. He explained that if the town was awarded the CDBG $250,000.00 would go for housing rehabilitation. This would be for ten housing projects. Instead of funding ten projects at $25,000, Elton Ogden, from Berkshire Housing, thought it would be better to fund four projects at $25,000, 2 projects that are more complex at $35,000 and 4 projects that would be only well or septic system repairs at $20,000. There will be a training session for volunteers to conduct a windshield survey to document houses that might be eligible for these grants.
Pat Mullins advised that the most a town can apply for is $1,000,000. A town will have a better chance of getting the grant if it covers a few different elements. The second element of this grant is an infrastructure project for sidewalk repair/replacement in North Becket and to put in crosswalks on High Street between the church and the general store and the island by Main Street to the Becket Athenaeum. Briefly discussed the materials that could be used for this purpose. The third packet will be a planning packet to look for an appropriate site for affordable senior housing. An advisory group could locate sites that could be used for senior housing, develop some criteria for optimal sites and then narrow the sites down to the three best sites. Briefly discussed the steps that need to
be taken in order to complete senior housing in town. Pat advised that everything covered so far amounts to approximately $750,000 to $800,000 which leaves a little wiggle room for a possible land acquisition. She advised that the budget should be finalized by the meeting on January 27, 2010.
The Selectmen reviewed the monthly report of the building inspector.
Any other business: Nina advised that Jeanne thought it would be good to appoint her as a temporary Registrar of Voters in case the town is short one while she is on vacation. John motioned to appoint Nina Weiler as a temporary Registrar of Voters, Bill seconded. Motion passed.
The Selectmen signed a letter of thanks to Beth VanNess for serving on the ZBA.
The Selectmen reviewed the Becket Ambulance Department Request for Write-off. Tony advised that there is a hardship request on this report. John motioned to write off the hardship request, Bill seconded. Motion passed. John motioned to write off two the next two requests, Bill seconded. Motion passed. John motioned to send the last two requests to the collection agency, Bill seconded. Motion passed.
Bill advised that he would be attending the Finance Committee meeting on February 4, 2010 and extended the invitation to John and George.
Briefly discussed mosquito control and how the town could get out of using Berkshire County Mosquito Control.
Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.
8:40 PM John motioned to adjourn the open session and go into executive session and not return to open session, Bill seconded. Roll call vote Bill-aye, John-aye. Motion passed.
Respectfully submitted, _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary William F. Cavanaugh, Chairman