Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
October 2, 2012
Call to Order –Chairman Cresta called the meeting to order at 7:30. Present: Mr. Houten, Ms. Jones, Ms. Lindberg, Mr. Prentakis, and Town Administrator Mr. Singer.
Minutes - Mr. Prentakis made a motion to accept the minutes of the September 11, 2012 meeting. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Approval of Warrants –Payroll Warrant 1313 was presented in the amount of $361,594 which includes small amounts for overtime. The Payables Warrant is for $331,036 which includes $32,206 for transportation for the school and $18,222 for purchase of power.
Ms. Prentakis made a motion to approve the warrants. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Town Administrator’s Report
Mr. Singer reminded the public that the annual Middleton Flu Clinics are scheduled for Saturday, October 13 and Monday October 15th. They will be held at the Howe Manning School. However, Mr. Singer reminded the public that if they have any questions they should call the Board of Health at (978) 777- 1869 and not call the school. More information is available on the Town website.
For the next five to six weeks the Town will be at a Level 6 Water Restriction (No Outdoor Watering) because of the construction at the Water Treatment Plant. During this time, water is being purchased from the Beverly Salem system which gets its water from the Ipswich River Watershed. Because of the stress on the watershed, the Department of Environmental Protection is requiring this restriction. The timing is good since most sprinkler systems are shut down by now. Precipitation for 2012 is still 5” below average. If necessary, the connection to Peabody might have to be opened giving access to MWRA water. Mr. Prentakis asked about the ongoing water meter replacement project. Mr. Singer said
that he did not have an update at this time.
Mr. Singer met with the Project Manager for the Department of Youth Services. They are moving ahead with the $40 million building project that has been being planned for eight years. The final design is being developed and the project will go out to bid in January. Mr. Singer requested that they schedule a meeting with the neighbors even though they don’t need permits. They agreed and would like to hold the meeting after the contract has been awarded. The design has not changed. The project is 1 ½ years from occupancy. It abuts a historic property dating from the early 1800’s that is now being used as a group home. The house will be very close to the new facility. The
Middleton Historic Commission is very interested in making sure this property is preserved.
Larry David is filming an HBO movie in the area. They will be filming at the Jail on October 19th. They may also do some filming on a back road.
Presentation of Booklet Entitled “Documents of Freedom” Published by the Topsfield, Boxford and Middleton Rotary Club - Dr. Bernard Creeden, and former Town Accountant Robert Murphy represented the Rotary Club. Dr. Creeden gave a brief background of the Topsfield, Boxford and Middleton Rotary Club. They are a local service organization that has provided services to the Councils on Aging, Libraries and the Schools. They provide scholarships to graduating seniors from Masconomet and from the North Shore Vocational School as well as distributing reference books in the elementary schools.
Their latest project is a booklet entitled Documents of Freedom which is aimed at those high school students and the general public interested in civics and the literature of civics. It includes documents from the Magna Carta to President Reagan’s speech at the Brandenberg Gate. The Rotary Club is looking for nominations of other documents that people feel should be included in a second edition. He presented copies to the Selectmen.
Request of Jeffrey Garber, Middleton Real Estate Group, LLC. for Street Opening Permit to Install a Water Line Connection for New Home at 34 School Street - Mr. Cresta explained that this action requires a waiver of the last 2 years of the 5 year waiting period after street paving in September 2009. This waiver can only be granted by the Board of Selectmen. Mr. Garber’ partner, Tom Schank explained that they would like to get access to the water line which is three feet from the edge of the pavement. There is no good place to put a well on the property. They may be able to go under the pavement to access the line without disturbing the road. The worst case would be cutting a 3’ by 3’ opening in the pavement. They will do whatever the DPW Superintendent requests
and will use flowable fill.
Mr. Singer said that when the water line was constructed, a stub was put in for what was known to be a developable lot. Middleton Reals Estate purchased some additional land and was able to create a second developable lot that was not foreseen. The Department of Public Works would supervise any work.
Mr. Houten made a motion to grant the request of Jeffrey Garber, Middleton Real Estate Group, LLC, for a street opening permit to install a water line connection for new home at 34 School Street with the stipulations outlined in the September 24th memo from DPW Superintendent, Bob LaBossiere. Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Acceptance of Donation to Provide Activities, Supplies, and Entertainment for Various Programs at the 2012 Pumpkin Festival from Organizers Amy Benoit and Barbara Zagami under the Massachusetts Gift Act – This action is necessary to allow these activities on Town property. Mr. Cresta expressed his thanks to the Middleton Recreation Commission for accepting and managing this gift.
Ms. Lindberg made a motion to accept the donation of activities, supplies, and entertainment for various programs at the 2012 Pumpkin Festival from organizers Amy Benoit and Barbara Zagami under the Massachusetts Gift Act. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Interview with Mr. Ryan Ferrara, Candidate for Assistant Town Administrator – Mr. Cresta reminded the audience that last May’s Annual Town Meeting authorized the creation of the position of Assistant Town Administrator. A long process of accepting resumes and conducting interviews followed. He asked Mr. Singer to explain the process.
Mr. Singer said that he is pleased to introduce Mr. Ryan Ferrara to talk about the qualifications that Mr. Singer hopes will result in the Board appointing him to the position of Assistant Town Administrator. Mr. Ferrara received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at UMass-Amherst and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from George Washington University. He currently serves as the Chief of Budget and Administration for the City of Newton’s Department of Public Works.
Fifty five resumes were received over a period of three months. A number of individuals were invited in for preliminary interviews. For the final interview, the panel consisted of four department heads, Steven McGoldrick of the Collins Center at UMass, who is also the Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and Wayne Melville, the Town Administrator in Manchester–by-the-Sea. Though Mr. Singer had originally intended to bring multiple candidates to the Board, it became clear to him that Mr. Ferrara was the right fit for the job. He then asked Mr. Ferrara to introduce himself.
Mr. Ferrara said that he grew up in North Reading and is very familiar with Middleton. After he got his Master’s Degree, his first job was with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority where he worked with Town Administrators and Public Works Directors across the State. In his current position in Newton, he oversees a staff of eight and is responsible for Customer Service, Accounts Payable, Contacts, and Personnel Management for the Department of Public Works. He is an eleven year Town Meeting member in Arlington and an eight year member of the Finance Committee. He has also served as the President of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Society of Pubic Administrators where he organized training and social events for Public
In coming to Middleton, he looks forward to the diversity of responsibilities in the new position and to working in a smaller community.
Mr. Cresta noted that there has been a lot of turnover among Town Administrators on the North Shore and expressed his concern that the Town will be able to keep a candidate for a number of years. He asked Mr. Ferrara is he felt he could make a commitment of at least three years. Mr. Ferrara said that he felt he could. He spent eleven years at MWRA and six in Newton. Loyalty is very important to him.
Ms. Lindberg wished to comment the he would learn so much from Mr. Singer and assured him that this is a good Board that does not micro-manage.
Mr. Prentakis noted that Mr. Ferrara is on a career trajectory that would lead to a job as a Town Administrator or Town Manager. He asked him what skills he felt he needed to develop to step into that role. Mr. Ferrara replied that the most important skill is the willingness to learn. He hopes to build on his existing skill set. Mr. Prentakis then asked if he had ever thought of applying for a job and then decided that he was not ready. Mr. Ferrara answered that the field of Public Administration is not for the meek. A candidate needs a healthy self-confidence. He feels he is well prepared for this job and is confident in the support of Mr. Singer and of the Board of Selectmen. Finally, he asked him if, after Mr. Singer
retired, the Board decided to hire someone besides him as Town Administrator, how would he react. Mr. Ferrara answered that he is a professional and would support the Board’s decision.
Ms. Jones wished to echo Ms. Lindberg’s comments. She asked why Mr. Ferrara chose to apply for the job in Middleton. He answered that this job fit his career objectives. Middleton has a good reputation for fiscal stability and for the relationship with the Board. He is confident that this will be a good fit.
Mr. Singer asked him why he had not applied for this type of job before. He answered that what he likes about this job is the diversity. He felt that his resume was heavy on finance and public works. His volunteer experience in Arlington as a Town Meeting member and on the Finance Committee has given him an overview of Town Government that enhanced that resume.
Mr. Cresta concluded by noting that Mr. Singer has a lot going on and some of the things that the Board would like to see done can’t be done. He is sure that there will be a lot for Mr. Ferrara to do.
Ms. Lindberg made a motion to appoint Mr. Ryan Ferrara of Arlington as Assistant Town Administrator for a term ending June 30, 2014 pending the signing of a mutually acceptable employment contract and a standard physical and CORI check. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Review of Draft Memorandum Advising Middleton Businesses of Numerous Sign Bylaw Violations - Mr. Cresta reminded the Board that at the last meeting, the Board had discussed the on-going saga of the sandwich signs and the complete disregard for the by-law passed by Town Meeting. He added that the signs have become a visual blight rather than the benefit to businesses that was intended. The packet contains a draft of a proposed joint letter from the Selectmen and the Board of Trade to all businesses.
Mr. Cresta feels the memo should point out that according to the Building Commissioner, every sign in Town in non-compliant. Lack of enforcement has been a problem but there has been no compliance.
Mr. Prentakis would like to add to the memo the statement that any non-conforming sign will be removed the first week of December. Mr. Cresta said that he would guess that if this by-law went to Town Meeting again, it would not pass. The business community should realize they should need to self-police. He added the Town has done such a good job of bringing in green space and making 114 and 62 attractive. He doesn’t want to see this problem continue.
Mr. Cresta noted that the Board has not as yet come up with a fee schedule. He would like to use the “carrot and stick” approach. The fee would be reduced if the permit were renewed on time. The whole fee would be charged if the renewal were late. This would also emphasize that this is a short term permit. Another incentive would be to waive the initial permit fee.
Mr. Singer explained that the by-law is twenty pages. He has prepared excerpts particular to the banners and a-frames. Many people think that the Town has a complete list of property owners and their business tenants. It doesn’t. The list will have to be compiled from a number of sources.
Mr. Cresta said he would like to see paragraph 3 amended to say that every sign that is out there is in violation of the by-law. There is not a single up-to-date permit on file. This includes those who are trying to be in compliance by taking the signs in at night and using the signs to advertise daily specials.
Mr. Singer said that if the business owners ignore the advisory and the memos, they will lose their $80 sign, and then they will pay attention. He added that if a business owes the Town money for any reason, then they are not entitled to licenses from the Town.
Ms. Lindberg asked if it should be approached through the landlords, who would have more influence with their tenants. Mr. Singer said the tenants may be putting up the signs without the owner’s knowledge. Mr. Cresta added that business may feel that they have to put up the signs because everyone else is doing it.
Ms. Jones asked if the situation does not improve by December, would the Board have enough time to develop a new by-law. Mr. Singer said that they would. Mr. Houten reiterated that the only way the businesses will pay attention is if they lose their signs.
Mr. .Singer asked for support from the Board for the Building Commissioner. Mr. Cresta said that he hates to see the Building Commissioner spending a lot of time on this issue. He wants the memo to say that the Board is prepared to go to Town Meeting to change the by-law so this does not continue to be a problem for the Building Commissioner. He would also like the businesses to receive reminders with their license renewals.
Mr. Singer said that he will bring back a revision to the next meeting.
Appointment to the Historical Commission – Mr. Cresta said that there is a vacancy on the Historical Commission. An application has been received from Anne LeBlanc-Snyder who has served as the long time co-chair of the Middleton School Building Committee.
Ms. Lindberg made a motion to appoint Anne LeBlanc-Snyder to the Historical Commission for a term ending June 30, 2014. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Appointment to the Rails to Trails Committee – Mr. Cresta said that three applications were received after the last round of appointments. They are from Scott Cameron, Matt Greenfield and Leo Jones.
Mr. Prentakis made a motion to appoint Scott Cameron, Matt Greenfield and Leo Jones to the Rail to Trails Committee for terms ending June 30, 2014. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Adjournment – Mr. Prentakis made a motion to adjourn. All were in favor and the meeting was adjourned at 8:45.
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary
Christine Lindberg, Clerk