Selectmens Meeting Minutes - 02-14-2012
Selectmen’s Meeting
Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
February 14th, 2012
7:30 PM
Call to Order – Chairperson Houten called the meeting to order at 7:35.  Present: Mr. Cresta, Ms. Jones, Mr. Prentakis, and Town Administrator Mr. Singer,
Approval of MinutesMr. Prentakis made a motion and was seconded by Ms. Jones to read and initial the minutes to indicate their acceptance. The motion carried 5-0-0.
Approval of Warrants - The Board approved a Payroll Warrant in the amount of $369,583 including a school payroll of $267,740 and a Payables Warrant in the amount of $645,459 of which almost $400,000 is for purchase of power and $137,000 is for payroll deductions.
Town Administrator’s Report
        Mr. Singer reported the following:
       The Attorney General’s Office has approved both the by-law and zoning by-law changes made at the November Special Town Meeting.  No defects were found.
       The definitive sub-division plan for a 15 lot sub-division on the former Nathan property has been received.  Naming of the two streets will be on the agenda for the next Selectmen’s meeting.
       Middleton’s legislative delegation will come to the next Selectmen’s meeting to update the Board on the State budget.  This would be a good time to discuss the MBTA assessment.
       Mr. Singer will be meeting with DEP Commissioner Kimmel and other officials in the area to discuss a Sustainable Water Management Act pilot to determine if water withdrawals in the Ipswich River Watershed are sustainable throughout the year.  This may affect the water withdrawal permits.  The pilot proposals are not significantly different from what Middleton already has.  The Commissioner seems open to listening to all sides.
       The Masconomet budget arrived yesterday.  The budget is up 3.6% and Middleton’s assessment is up 3.5%.  Early indications are that enrolment is flat.  There will be hearings in the next few days but it appears that the budget is in the target zone so no Propositions 2 ½ override will be proposed.  They could see significant savings from adoption of the new health care act provisions. Negotiations with the teachers on this matter are beginning.
        Ms. Jones said that this might be the time to bring up the issue of five year averaging.  Mr. Singer said that would be a subject to bring up with Middleton’s representatives to the Masco School Committee.  There is considerable research from about twenty years ago.  The research showed that over five years, the Towns paid the same amount but without the variations that can cripple a budget.  If enrollment goes down the Town can bank the savings for the future increases.  Mr. Prentakis asked what the procedure would be for amending the agreement.  Mr. Singer said that he believes it would require the approval of the three Towns and review by the Department of Education.
Application for Automatic Amusement Device License by Opti Golf at 216-220 South Main Street - Dr. Wayne Pasanen, Manager and Franchisee of OptiGolf was accompanied by his General Manager Caleb Rheinhold.  Dr. Pasanen described the business.  It is now the largest indoor golf facility of its kind in New England.  It opened in December and is developing well.  He also has ten to twelve televisions to give it the feel of a sports facility.  Sometimes customers are waiting around for their reservation and sometimes they stay for a while after they have played.  He is seeking to add four amusements machines to supplement the video golf games.  These will include two sophisticated gaming machines, a pool table and a Fooze Ball table.  There will be no gambling.  He currently has eight employees.  Food is being provided by Sal’s Pizza.
        Mr. Prentakis made a motion to grant a license for four automatic amusement devices to OptiGolf at 216-220 South Main St.  Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Appointments to Memorial Day Committee: Applicants; Mr. Ronald Draper and Ms. Shirley Raynard
        Ms. Jones made a motion to appoint Mr. Ronald Draper to the Memorial Day Committee for a term ending June 30, 2013 and to appoint Ms. Shirley Raynard to the Memorial Day Committee for a term ending June 30, 2014.  Mr. Cresta seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Discussion with Comcast General Government Manager Jane Lyman Regarding Company’s Service Restoration Policy and Specific Notifications to Cable Television Customers following outages – Ms. Lyman was welcomed.  The matter of double poles was touched on.  Ms. Lyman said that Comcast only owns a small number of poles.  .They are very able to get their wires moved when it is their turn.  They have contractors who they have worked with for a long time and they pay by the pole so the contractors are eager to do the work.  Mr. Singer said that Verizon had provided the Town with its double pole inventory.  However, Mr. Houten said that the Light Department has found the Verizon list to be out of date.  They have their own list and that will be supplied to Comcast.
        Mr. Prentakis expressed his frustration about his interactions with Comcast during the October 2011 storm event.  Nine hours after the storm, Comcast Customer Service did not know anything.
        Ms. Lyman explained that the October storm caused many widespread and small commercial power outages.  The Town of Middleton restores power quickly.  It was a commercial power outage between the head end in Beverly and Middleton that caused the problem.  Signals are sourced through head ends and hubs throughout the area.  Commercial power is required to transmit the signals to nodes and from there to individual households.  If the power is interrupted anywhere the signal will not be transmitted. All the nodes have several hours of back-up but after that they will go down.  Comcast tries to prepare for storms by bringing in technicians on overtime and by deploying equipment throughout the service area.  However, it is very difficult to predict when the commercial power outages will be repaired.
        Mr. Prentakis said that the problem was that customer service could not even tell him where there were outages and where there was service.  Ms. Lyman said that Comcast has a monitoring station in Chelmsford that can tell which nodes were down.  With so many nodes down, the question is how much time can you spend getting information to the Call Centers when that information will quickly be out of date.
        Mr. Cresta pointed out that he gets e-mail from Comcast on many subjects.  E-mailing information would keep calls away from the Call Center.  He feels that if you can send him an e-mail that his bill is paid you should be able to communicate with him.  Verizon contacted the Town with its outage information and the Town was able to send out a blast e-mail which customers could access on their Smartphones.  Ms. Lyman said that Mr. Singer had offered the Town’s services to send out the e-mail and she thanked them for that.  
        Mr. Prentakis asked if customers who did not call get a refund for the outage.  Ms. Lyman said that was decided on a case by case basis.   He added that if customers only get refunds if they call, Comcast in inviting a large volume of callers when there is an outage.  
        Mr. Singer commented that there is a bill in the legislature that has the following provisions:
       Within 24 hours of the end of a storm event, utilities would have to provide an approximate schedule for restoration of service.
       Huge fines could be imposed if certain triggers are met
       Anyone who loses service would automatically without having to call.
        Ms. Lyman said that often customers recognize that they don’t have cable because the electricity is out, so they don’t expect a refund.  She said she would take the Town up on the offer to use the blast e-mail.  She fees that it will be a while before the company has the software to notify customers by e-mail about outages.  
Executive Session - Chairman Houten announced that the Board would be going into Executive Session under Chapter 39, Section 23B, Paragraph, Paragraph 3 Litigation and would not be coming back in open session.
Mr. Prentakis voted yes.  Ms. Jones voted yes.  Mr. Cresta voted yes.  Mr. Houten voted yes.  The regular meeting was adjourned and the Board entered Executive Session at 8:30.

Respectfully submitted,
Mary Jane Morrin                
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary