HOLDEN BOARD OF SELECTMEN
FEBRUARY 22, 2010
5:30PM Senior Center
Present: Chairman Kimberly Ferguson, James Jumonville, Anthony Renzoni, David White, Kenneth O’Brien
Others Present: Nancy Galkowski, Town Manager, Elizabeth Helder, Recording Secretary
Chairman Ferguson opened the meeting at 6:30PM. The Board participated in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Sel. Renzoni: Master Plan/Implementation: Next meeting is scheduled for February 25th. A question regarding the I-190 connector will be placed on the Regional Selectmen’s Agenda for discussion.
Sel. O’Brien: Water/Sewer: Met February 11th. Joint meeting with Selectmen will be determined at a future date.
EDC: Committee meets when projects are in development and act in an advisory capacity.
Sel. Jumonville: Memorial Day Parade: Next meeting is scheduled for February 23rd at 7PM in the Starbard Building.
Civil Service: February 9th was the last meeting. Will present to the Board in early March.
Sel. White: PSBC: The Committee continues to review FF&E and technology/communications options. A public opening is anticipated for Public Safety Day in October 2010. Next meeting is scheduled for March 3rd. The Committee has authorized a second borrowing of 5M to complete the project. The project is anticipated to finish 2M under budget.
Sel. Ferguson: Affordable Housing:
Town Manager’s Miscellaneous
a. Town Manager Galkowski reported that the bids for roof repairs and painting at the Hendrick’s House and Barn Rehabilitation project came in well below estimate. The anticipated cost for the project was $90,000. The bid came in at $42,000. Architects at Lamoureux Pagano are currently analyzing all bid data.
b. Ms. Galkowski informed the Board that the town has been awarded a State Grant for photovoltaic projects at the Senior Center and Light Department. The town received the full grant amount of $82,000, which represents one-half of the total project cost. The remainder of the project costs has been budgeted with the Light Department. The photovoltaic project will be applied to buildings for energy savings.
c. Ms. Galkowski announced that representatives from the USDA would contact homeowners in Chaffin’s neighborhoods to begin inspections/surveys in regards to the ongoing Asian Longhorn Beetle infestation. Homeowners will be asked to sign a release allowing the USDA to chemically treat trees. The treatment process involves injecting the trees with a repellant. No spraying will occur as a treatment. Work will be completed by June 2011 in this infected area. Replanting will occur after the work has been completed. More information can be found at www.townofholden.net. An informational meeting will be held on March 1st at the Senior Center from 6-8PM.
Sel. O’Brien asked that the Board vote to take a position that the Town of Holden prefers the chemical injection treatment method. He said he did not want tree spraying to help immunize the trees. Ms. Galkowski said the administration would send a letter to the USDA to ensure that the preferred treatment method of injection is used to treat trees in Holden.
d. Town Manager Galkowski announced that Town Clerk Kathy Peterson would retire April 1, 2010. Ms. Peterson’s last day of work will be March 19, 2010. The Board expressed its thanks and gratitude for her years of service to the town. A retirement reception will be held for Ms. Peterson at a date to be announced.
Sel. O’Brien asked members of Boy Scout Troop 182 to address the Board. Ms. Nancy Miller, Merit Badge Counselor, said that the boys are working on the completion of a Merit Badge on Citizenship. Each boy is required to donate eight hours of community service of his choosing.
4. Selectmen Miscellaneous
Sel. White: 1. Received the Water/Sewer Monthly report. Sel. White requested that the Town Manager provide an executive summary with each monthly report. Town Manager Galkowski confirmed information in the report, which anticipates a positive balance at the year-end of approximately 28K.
2. Sel. White commented on the possibility of future deficits in the town’s trash account. Improvements to the recycling rate will help the trash deficits. He inquired about recycling education efforts to date. The Town Manager is currently reviewing information through Growth Management Director Dennis Lipka. She said that she would discuss recycling information efforts with the School Superintendent. Recycling education information will be sent out in the HMLD bills to remind homeowners to improve/increase their recycling habits in order to improve rates. Sel. White reported that the School District in Southborough, MA switched to single stream recycling and cut trash amounts in half.
3. Announced that the Resource Profile meeting would be held after tonight’s Board meeting.
4. Discussed the calibration of the water meter program in Town. The Manager reported that most meters have been replaced or been recalibrated within the last two years. The meter on West Mountain Street will be replaced spring FY10. Director of Public Works has been directed to initiate a bigger user/compound meter calibration program for local businesses. This program will be placed in the budget for next year. Sel. White said that it was important to include a compound meter program in this year’s budget. Chairman Ferguson concurred adding that an aggressive approach was necessary. Turbo meters or newer meter technology should be considered in this program. Approximately 96 commercial customers use compound meters
Approval of Previous Minutes
Motion by Sel. White, seconded by Sel. Renzoni, it was UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO APPROVE THE MEETING MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 1, 2010.
Revisions to Backflow Prevention Device Policy
The Town Manager read the notice of public hearing into record.
Motion by Sel. White, seconded by Sel. Renzoni, it was UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO OPEN THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BACKFLOW PREVENTION DEVICE POLICY AT 6:07PM.
Mr. Jim Shuris, DPW Director reviewed the changes to the proposed policy. He said that part of the change to the policy would allow the DPW to test each device. It is important for the DPW to actually test each device and see the mechanism at work. He said that the change to this policy is part of his “find it and fix it” upgrade to the DPW. This inspection is an important mechanism to protect the Town’s water supply. Currently, a private contractor conducts annual testing of the backflow devices in town. There are 372 residential devices in town. Mr. Shuris said that the DPW was not looking to change the fees ($70 per test), but to streamline the testing process by neighborhood, and to allow the DPW to have more control over the testing process. He said that it was not necessarily about the
money but rather protecting the town’s water supply. Mr. Shuris said that currently the DPW annually notifies each customer of the annual device test.
Sel. O’Brien asked if private contractors have encountered any problems inspecting the devices. Mr. Shuris said that private contractors conducted 118 devices in 2009. Several inspections were done incorrectly and should have failed. The policy that is being presented requires that the Town conduct the annual inspection. A private licensed contractor may conduct devices that require a bi-annual inspection.
Sel. White said that the Town should have reported to the State licensing authority any licensed contractor who improperly conducted testing of a backflow prevention device. Director Shuris commented that the requested change to the policy would allow the Town the opportunity to conduct “one stop shopping” and inspect water devices it normally doesn’t have the chance to visit to look for leaks and other water issues. He reiterated the importance of maintaining the quality of water in Town. Sel. White commented that this change would take money out of the private sector and taxpayers pockets. Sel. White said that 732 users was a very small sampling of the town’s water consumers – What about the other 6,000 homes in town? Does the Water Department have the staff to conduct this work? Mr. Shuris said that
entire neighborhoods would be targeted at a time, helping to save staff time and effort.
Sel. Jumonville said that if a licensed contractor charges $35 and the Town charges $70 then the homeowner should have a choice on how much to pay. The option should be with the homeowner. He commented that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Chairman Ferguson inquired how many cities and towns have elected to use the local option. Mr. Shuris said he did not know. Regarding the water safety issue, how many times have these systems failed? Has a backflow device physically failed subjecting the town’s water supply to bacteria? Mr. Shuris did not have an example where water safety had been compromised.
Sel. Renzoni asked for a breakdown of 372 users: how many residential vs. commercial users are there? Mr. Shuris replied that he did not have that kind of information available. Sel. Renzoni initiated discussion on the DPW’s plan to color code the fire hydrants in town. Sel. Renzoni said that the DPW discussed color coding/painting the fire hydrants in September 2009 and six months later no hydrants have been painted. Sel. Renzoni said that if the DPW has the staff to conduct back flow testing, then they have the staff to begin the fire hydrant project.
Sel. O’Brien said that the Water/Sewer Advisory Board was in favor of the policy revision. He added that the increased number of tests the DPW would conduct would also help offset some of the deficit in the Water/Sewer budget.
Chairman Ferguson asked if anyone from the public would like to address the Board during the public hearing.
Sel. White made a motion to close the public hearing.
Chairman Ferguson reminded Sel. White that a citizen had asked for a statement to be read into record. The author of the statement was unable to attend the hearing due to a family emergency.
Recording Secretary Liz Helder was asked to read the statement of David Clapp, a licensed Master Plumber and backflow device inspector into record. In his statement, Mr. Clapp said that he was opposed to the change to the backflow prevention device policy. He said that he and other Master Plumbers could offer a service the DPW could not: the ability to fix a backflow device if it was broken. He said if the DPW failed a device, a customer would not only pay to have the DPW inspect and fail the device, but they would also have to pay for a plumber to come and repair the device at their cost. He added that he also charges less than the $70 the DPW would charge to inspect the device.
Recording Secretary Liz Helder asked to address the Board.
Elizabeth Helder, 33 Steppingstone Drive said that as users of a backflow device were paying for use of outside water from the device and since the Town was profiting from this water usage, the Town should inspect the devices for free. Additionally, Ms. Helder said that she objected to comments made by Sel. O’Brien regarding the use of the extra money the town would earn by inspecting the devices themselves to help pay down the deficit in the Water/Sewer account. Ms. Helder said that it was unfair to make 372 homes in Holden pay for a deficit created by all users in town.
Town Manager Galkowski said that ultimately it is the Town’s responsibility to protect the water supply. It’s not about the cost or taking business away from local contractors.
Sel. White said that many of these backflow water meter users are also high-end water users. He said he suspected that the Town was losing a great deal of money from these customers because they are using old meters that are not reporting water use accurately. The greatest loss of money is from unaccounted for water use.
Sel. Renzoni said that a case was not made for making the change and he would not support the revision.
Chairman Ferguson suggested that the DPW work on implementing a fire hydrant code policy.
Motion by Sel. White, seconded by Sel. Jumonville, it was UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO CLOSE THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BACKFLOW PREVENTION DEVICE POLICY AT 6:07PM.
Motion by Sel. White, seconded by Sel. Renzoni, it was VOTED 4-1 WITH 1 OPPOSED TO NOT ADOPT A REVISION TO THE BACKFLOW INSPECTION POLICY AS PRESENTED. (Sel. O’Brien)
Selectmen Miscellaneous (reopened)
Sel. Renzoni: 1. Attended the W/S Advisory Meeting last week where there was a lot of talk during the meeting that the account will finish with a small revenue. However, there was also talk at the meeting about a rate increase.
2. Inquired about the Open Space Planning Committee. The Town Manager said that the Committee works in conjunction with the Master Plan Committee. The Town Manager will need to reconvene the Open Space Committee in order for them to review and approve its portion of the Master Plan.
3. Will attend a tour of Monty Tech on February 26th with the Monty Tech School Rep.
Sel. Jumonville: 1. Interested in any updates on the Reed Rico property. The Manager will update the Board once the purchase process has been completed.
2. Asked that Chairman Ferguson invite the Town of West Boylston to the Regional Selectmen’s Meeting.
Sel. Ferguson: 1. Reported on large potholes adjacent to the Bailey Rail Road Tracks. The holes will be cold patched for now. Railroad maintenance staff must conduct any work to the tracks.
2. Reported that there was some discussion at the January 2010 MMA meeting about regionally sharing the services of a Veteran’s Agent. Sel. Ferguson said that the subject would be discussed at the Selectman’s Monday, March 1st meeting. Sel. Renzoni will meet with Town Manager and Veteran’s Agent.
3. Attended retirement party for Dr. William Blake.
4. The entire Board and Town Staff expressed its condolences to the Gengel family who lost their daughter Brittany in the Haiti earthquake. Chairman Ferguson extended thanks to the Manager’s office, police and fire staff for their outstanding work in coordinating the wake and crowd control during calling hours at Miles Funeral Home.
Citizens’ Address (reopened)
Sel. O’Brien asked to address the resident who addressed the Board during Citizens’ Address. Chairman Ferguson commented that the only people who approached the Board during Citizens’ Address were Boy Scouts who have left the meeting. Sel. O’Brien clarified himself and said it was the Citizen who spoke about the backflow prevention discussion. He said that the resident had broken Selectman policy by addressing a Selectman by name and by insulting said Selectman. He said that he wanted this resident censured. Chairman Ferguson corrected Sel. O’Brien by informing him that the comments made by the resident occurred during the public hearing portion of the backflow prevention discussion. Any resident is allowed to come forward during a public hearing to comment on the subject or comments made during Selectmen
Motion by Sel. White, seconded by Sel. Renzoni, it was UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO ADJOURN THE FEBRUARY 22, 2010 MEETING AT 7PM.
APPROVED: March 15, 2010