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Selectmens Meeting Minutes - 7/27/2010
Selectmen’s Meeting
Fuller Meadow School
Nathan Media Center
July 27, 2010
7:30 p.m.

Call to Order:

Chair Christine Lindberg called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m.  

Present:  Mr. Prentakis, Ms. Lindberg, Mr. Houten, Mr. Cresta, and Ira Singer, Town Administrator.

Absent:  Mrs. Jones

Meeting Minutes:  Ms. Lindberg entertained a motion for the approval of the meeting minutes of the last Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

Motion by Mr. Houten to accept the meeting minutes as presented.  Second by Mr. Prentakis.  All were in favor and the vote unanimously passed 4-0-0.

Mr. Singer took the opportunity to introduce new Masconomet Superintendent Daryl Lockwood, and Rodney Pendleton, Middleton representative on the Masconomet School Committee.  Mr. Lockwood addressed the board by thanking Mr. Pendleton for giving him an extensive tour of the town, and to Mr. Singer for his many e-mail communications.  He stated that he has spoken with John Erickson of the Middleton Finance Committee and looks forward to continued discussions.  He stated that he will always put the needs of the Masconomet students first, and is very happy to be here.  He asked if any member of the Board would be willing to spare a half hour, he would love to have a cup of coffee and talk.  Mr. Singer has his contact information.  He appreciates the this time while the students are out of school, to get to know the communities, elected officials, etc.  Mr. Singer thanked him for attending and stated there are many challenges ahead.  We all take pride in an outstanding school district.

Administrator’s Report:

  • Mr. Singer presented the Town Warrant with payroll expenses of $95,130.00.  A detailed breakdown of the warrant is included in the packet.  He also presented bills payable in the amount of $706,707.00, and commented that at the next meeting, the Board should see a request from the School Building Committee for over $1M.  He stated that the progress is moving very rapidly, and we will start to see more subcontractor bills coming in.  The project is reaching a point where it will be spending $1M or so per month.  Total construction costs are a little over $17M.  The weather has cooperated and there have been some issues with dust.  Mr. Singer asked for more use of calcium chloride to control the dust which is helpful to the entire neighborhood.
  • Mr. Singer discussed the replacement of the library’s front stairs.  The contractor is having trouble getting the granite.  There is a 90 day delay allowance, and he hopes this project will be done before the winter months.
  • Mr. Singer discussed a notice to proceed to the low bidder to complete the athletic fields at the Rubchinuk landfill.  The work should be wrapped up by mid-September and then will go into the planning phase.  He hopes the fields will be open a year from this fall.  There is a tight budget.  Bob LaBossiere is acting as the general contractor in order to minimize overhead.  12,000 feet of fill was taken from the new Howe Manning School site to provide the last layer of cover material for the field.  
  • Mr. Singer took the opportunity to thank the members of the Kiwanis, who sponsored the annual Council on Aging Picnic.  He also thanked Danvers Fish and Game for hosting the event.
  • Mr. Singer reported that he is in the process of completing the paperwork for FEMA.  One project was deemed ineligible and requires an appeal.  This is the cemetery wall.  Otherwise, more than $20K in federal assistance will be distributed to residents, with proceeds to be received within a six month period.
  • Mr. Singer asked members of the Board to review the draft 20 year water renewal permit, which was included in the packet.  He stated that the longer we wait, the more we can water for 6 hours per week, rather than have no watering rights at all, which is forthcoming.
  • The town’s website is being revamped.  It is a powerful list of residents who are interested in what’s going on in town.  It can be used for various platforms in Town.  There has been excellent participation among department heads.  Roger Talbot is the lead webmaster under the senior work program, and is getting assistance from Paul Pellicelli.
  • Mr. Singer reported that Middleton Auto Sales complied with their two day suspension with no issues.  The owners promised to adhere to the conditions of the license moving forward.
  • Mr. Prentakis asked Mr. Singer for an update on the JCC property and possible use of fields.  Mr. Singer responded that the P&S would be executed in late August.  The real estate agent was asked to convey to the new owner the Town’s interest in the use of the fields until the purchase is official, and also the Town’s interest in speaking to the new owner regarding other opportunities for the Town.
Request to Waive Five Year Street Opening Moratorium on Grove Street for Installation of a Water Line Connection – Richardson Green Inc., Mr. Paul Richardson

Mr. Richardson was not in attendance, and Mr. Singer does not believe he was given confirmation that this matter was on the agenda for tonight.  It was agreed that the matter would be tabled until the next regular meeting.

Review of Memorandum of Agreement between Town of Middleton and Regional Emergency Communication (RECC) for Public Safety Dispatch Service – Mr. Joseph F. McGowen of the Essex County Sherriff’s Office

Mr. Singer introduced Joe McGowan of the Essex County Sherriff’s Department.  Mr. McGowan began by stating it has been a pleasure working with Mr. Singer and the Fire and Police Chiefs in Middleton.  He explained that the evolution of this project grew out of public safety needs, with five years of urging from Topsfield Police Chief Ronald Giovannacci.  The idea behind the move was that a RECC could service the collective needs in emergency services dispatch.  Notwithstanding the high skill and dedication of their respective communications personnel, these officials perceived that there could be significant advantages to cooperating in this crucial area.  These efforts began to take shape with the submission of letters of interest by 19 municipalities between January and April 2006.  This would provide more tools, training and capacity to each of the participating communities.

Mr. McGowan continued that the Sherriff’s office did a feasibility study which included visits to other states to see first hand the benefits of a regional approach, and a project manager was hired to provide the necessary expertise and knowledge of establishing a collaborative approach.  He explained that the facility would be a separate entity and member driven to maximize involvement and input from each of the municipalities.  He referred to a letter from Sheriff Frank Cousins, which was included in the packets.  The letter states that The State 911 Department has awarded the project almost $7M to build and equip the facility.  The land is secured.  DCAM and the architectural firm of Symmes, Maini and McKee and project engineers L.R. Kimball have been working on the design of the building.

Mr. McGowan brought a computer rendering of the proposed dispatch center and explained that the building would be constructed where the current visitor lot sits, along with a portion of grass and some of the landscaping.  It would be owned by the Commonwealth but maintained by the Essex County Sherriff’s department, so the project does not involve going off the footprint of the existing property.  

Mr. McGowan explained that the communities currently on board include Beverly, Amesbury, Topsfield and Essex.  The next step is to form an advisory group comprised of Police and Fire Chiefs, among others.  He assured members of the Board that Chief Digi will not be giving up any control over Middleton in particular in terms of how things operated.  He will still retain maximum control over policing, and the same goes for the Fire Chief.  There will also be the establishment of a Financial Advisory Board, including the Mayor, CFO, Town Administrator or Manager of each community.  The board will annually accept the budget and will come up with its own procedures.  They will also have guidelines from the community on collective bargaining procedures.  The RECC will decide when and whether or not other communities will be accepted, and it will continue to grow.

In order for a fair and comprehensive analysis to be undertaken, each member community is required to identify costs throughout municipal budgets that reflect the costs centers outlined to the municipal officials.  The cost benefit analysis in comparing the projected RECC assessment cost with the total costs of current municipal operations is the responsibility of each local community.  Currently the per capita assessment of the RECC is $16.26.

Mr. Prentakis asked whether or not the prisoners are included as part of the census, and thus part of the per capita assessment.  Mr. McGowan responded that the 8,636 does not include the prisoners.  The prison population of approximately 1,200 has been discussed from day one and will not be part of the assessment.  Mr. McGowan referred to the memorandum of understanding, which was included in the packets.  

Mr. McGowan discussed an additional benefit, which is reverse 911 for use by participating communities at no additional charge.  He also discussed the enhanced level of training and the fact that a full time training person would be employed not only to train employees, but for quality assurance purposes as well.

Mr. Prentakis asked that if the visitor parking lot were to be replaced by the new facility, where would new parking be located.  Mr. McGowan responded that there is a lot of islands and dead space within the footprint.  The area would be reconfigured and provide plenty of additional parking.  He also added that the center will be fenced, only allowing access by employees.  The facility will be extremely secure.

Mr. Singer stated that Sherriff Cousins could not attend tonight’s meeting due to another recommitment, and both Middleton’s Police and Fire Chiefs are on vacation.  He suggested that the conversation continue at the next Board meeting, which is August 10th, when the Police and Fire Chief are available, as well as Sherriff Cousins to further discuss.  In the meantime, he asked the Board to take this information under advisement.

Mr. Cresta asked if a community that borders Essex County be part of this regional dispatch center.  Mr. McGowan responded that there is room for growth; however, initially this plan only addresses the communities that want to be part of this now.  He has also heard interest from other municipalities.  The authority is there, whether or not the Financial Advisory Board wants to accept other communities is up to them.  Mr. Singer replied that the parties would be looking for action by the Board of Selectmen at their meeting on August 10th.

At 9:00 p.m., Mr. Houten made a motion and was seconded by Mr. Prentakis to adjourn the meeting.  The motion carried 4-0-0.

Brian Cresta, Clerk
Middleton Board of Selectmen