Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
October 8, 2013
Call to Order – Chairman Prentakis called the meeting to order at 7:35. Also present were Mr. Cresta, Ms. Jones, Mr. Houten, Ms. Lindberg, Town Administrator Mr. Singer, Assistant Town Administrator Mr. Ferrara, and Police Chief James DiGianvittorio
Minutes – Mr. Houten made a motion to approve the minutes of the September 10th regular and executive session minutes and of the September 24th regular and executive session minutes. Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Approval of Warrants – Payables Warrant 1414 totaled $680,092. $395,000 was for purchase of power and $70,515 was for paving. The Payroll Warrant totaled $177,661.
Mr. Houten made a motion to approve the warrants. Mr. Cresta seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Town Administrator’s Report
- Ch. 70 Funding - The Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Local Government Advisory Committee met with Transportation Secretary Richard Davies and Administration and Finance Secretary Glen Shor to press for the final release of Chapter 70 funds. They were told that $100 million will not be released this year. This means Chapter 70 is essentially level funded at $300 million rather than the $450 million that was expected. This means the deferral of some of the work in the Five Year Capital Plan. It is fortunate that Town Meeting authorized supplemental funding to keep the plan on track.
- Government Shut Down – Mr. Singer and Mr. Ferrara participated in a conference call with Sixth District Congressman Tierney regarding the effect of the government shut-down on municipalities. They were concerned about Title 1 and Special Education funds which amount to several hundred thousand dollars. The Congressman assured them that those funds were secure. The Town will keep tables on this because it may cause a deficit. This much money could not be made up at Town Meeting.
- Medical Marijuana – Mr. Ferrara reported that of the 181 applications or licenses to sell Medical Marijuana, 158 passed to the next step. He provided a list of the applicants or Essex County. Specific communities are not named. There is no indication that there are any applications aimed at Middleton. The Phase 2 application requires a $38,000 application fee and is due in December. The Attorney General has decided to allow the moratoriums on Medical Marijuana enacted by Towns to be extended until the end of 2014.
- DCAM Lots- State Senator Tarr has set up a meeting between the Town and the Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) tomorrow to discuss the properties formerly owned by Essex County which the Town would like to see transferred to the Town or otherwise organization that would protect them. In addition to Senator Tarr, Representatives Jones and Speliotis are also expected as well as Conservation Commission Chair, Mr. Skinner. This meeting is a follow-up to Annual Town Meeting Article 30. The Town will be asking DCAM what would be the process for bringing about this transfer. The Town has compiled information about the original prices of the lots and about Conservation Restrictions that were built into some of the deeds.
Application of John Ruggieri for Common Victuallar License by J & A Food Corporation d/b/a Ruggieri’s located at 170 North Main Street – Mr. Houten recused himself and left the room. Mr. Ruggieri introduced himself. He has had a family run restaurant and catering business. He is planning to open at the site of the former Joseph’s Grille to run an upscale Italian sandwich shop with prepared foods and a catering business. He will not be serving breakfast for now. Ms. Jones asked if he would be continuing to run his other restaurant. He said he would not. Mr. Prentakis asked about a copy of the lease. Mr. Ruggieri said the landlord would supply it. Mr. Prentakis noted that he would need the lease to actually pick up the license. Mr.
Prentakis asked if Mr. Ruggieri would be doing any renovations. He said he would be installing new equipment and making some cosmetic changes.
Mr. Cresta made a motion to approve the application of John Ruggieri for a Common Victuallar License by J & A Food Corporation d/b/a Ruggieri’s located at 170 North Main Street. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Request of Robert Zeraschi, Principal of Torre Street Realty Trust LLC, to Waive Waiting Period until 2015 for a Street Opening Permit at 244 Maple Street - Attorney Jill Mann represented the petitioner on behalf of the Goddard School. Mr. Zeraschi was also present. The petitioner is seeking to connect to the existing National Grid natural gas line on Maple St. He is in the process of constructing a pre-school which is projected to open the first of the year. A request has been submitted to the Department of Public Works. Mr. LeBossiere’s response explaining what has to be done is included in the packet. The first two conditions will be the responsibility of National Grid while the third will be the responsibility of the petitioner.
Mr. Houten asked if the abutter at the corner of East St., who has an approved plan, was doing anything that would make it advantageous to do both connections as once. Mr. Zeraschi said that the abutter was not interested in proceeding at this time. He added that he believes that the abutter intends to submit a modified plan.
Mr. Zeraschi would like to have this work done as soon as possible. It will require 13’ of digging and one lane of Maple St. would have to be closed for a day. Mr. Singer commented that the Board could require that the work be done at night.
Mr. Cresta asked if it will be possible to get asphalt in April when they will be required to do the final patch. Ms. Mann said that they can get it anytime. It might just cost more. He also asked if they would be restoring the sidewalk and Ms. Mann said that they would.
Mr. Houten made a motion to grant the request for a street opening permit for 244 Maple St. with conditions as stated in Mr. LeBossiere’s memo and the additional condition that all work be done between 8:00 PM and 5:00 AM. Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion.
Discussion – Ms. Mann pointed out that there are residents in the area who might be disturbed by the noise from the street cutting during the night. Mr. Cresta said that he would be comfortable if the work could be done between the morning rush hour and the afternoon rush hour. Mr. Singer suggested that National Grid should confer with the Police Chief and the DPW Superintendent to determine when the noisiest part of the work should be done. Perhaps that could occur between 8:00 PM and midnight. Ms. Mann asked how the Board would feel about Saturday. Mr. Cresta suggested amending the motion to require that the petitioner confer with the Police Chief and the DPW Superintendent to schedule a time that is in least conflict with residents and with traffic. Mr. Zeraschi
expressed a preference for Saturday because he knows from experience that night projects extend into the morning hours.
Mr. Houten made a motion to amend his motion to add an allowance of an hour either way and daylight hours on Saturday to the original time constraints. Mr. Cresta seconded the amendment. All were in favor of the amendment. All were in favor of the amended motion.
Continuation of Mid-Year Departmental Reports:
Police, Chief James DiGianvittorio – Mr. Prentakis noted that it has been an eventful time for the Department. The Chief expressed his pride in the Department.
Regional Emergency Communications Center (RECC) – The Chief reported that they are still working to go live with the RECC in November. The Fire Department went live last week. With the addition of wireless 911 to the RECC’s workload, it seemed best for the Police Departments to wait. Middleton and Topsfield also still need some equipment in their stations. This will consist of closed circuit television and speakers so that someone entering the Station lobby when there is no one on duty will be able to talk directly to the dispatchers. As is to be expected with any new system, there are glitches.
Mr. Prentakis asked where 911 calls are going. The Chief answered that all calls are going to the RECC. They are dispatching for the fire and medical calls. The Police Station is manned with the secretaries during the day and with an officer at night. They are also monitoring the calls. Calls are entered into the current Records Management System as well as the RECC’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System. So no information is being lost. There are no problems with 911 calls. There is some duplication while officers are learning the new system which is by Spillman. When the new system is in place, the officers will be able to do all their reporting right in their cruisers. All issues are being handled properly
and professionally. It is good to have both systems running for the transition.
The Department is working with the Greenfield Police Department who currently uses the system. An officer from Greenfield came to train Middleton officers. This officer could teach in police language rather than vendor language. In most of the country the Sherriff’s Department acts as the Police Department so the RECC didn’t realize that they needed some additional jail modules to handle functions which in other states would be handled by the County Sherriff. The company wants to break into Massachusetts, so they will be working hard to make this work.
Mr. Prentakis asked about the radio system. The Chief said that there are some glitches, which Motorola is working on. It is sometimes difficult to hear transmissions from the RECC. Mr. Singer added that the current antenna is temporary. DCAM is responsible for getting the permanent 180’ antenna in place. That should come in in late October or early November. The current antenna is not working as well as was expected. Mr. Singer added that the RECC is picking up the extra cost the Town may incur because of any delays.
Ms. Lindberg asked about 911 trace back for cell phones when the individual making the call is unable to speak. The Chief replied that right now 911 cell phone calls go to the State Police in Framingham. They then transfer the call to the appropriate municipality. Starting October 15th, calls from all of Essex County and half of Middlesex County will go to the RECC. The dispatchers are going for training from the State Police this week. Mr. Singer said that they are also investigating 911 texting for situations when the caller cannot talk. Ms. Lindberg asked if the dispatcher will know where the call is coming from. The only way to identify the caller’s location is to triangulate from cell phone towers.
Police Station Renovations – The Chief reported that the work is 99.9% complete. He had a number of slides which showed the Station before and after the renovations. Two and a half years ago the Department acquired the modular classrooms from Howe-Manning. The project has taken two years utilizing the North Shore Vocational (NSVT) School students. He showed slides of the project’s progression
Among the highlights of the renovation are:
- A new lobby with reinforced walls and bullet proof glass. The lobby will be open at all times even when the Station is not manned. There will be a camera and speaker connected with the RECC.
- A modern dispatch center and office space
- A new booking room with property lockers, a breathalyzer, cameras to record arrests, and an electronic fingerprint reader that will connect to AFIS, making it safer for officers and prisoners.
The building is handicapped accessible where needed, and up to code including the addition of a sprinkler system. Everything is newly painted and rubberized flooring has been installed.
There were three phases to the project. The Chief passed out an outline of what was in each phase. Mr. Cresta asked if the Chief knew how much the project would have cost if the Town had not had the NSVT. The Chief said he couldn’t say. There was a lot of volunteer work. Mr. Singer noted that 2400 sq. ft. of space was added. This kind of work usually cost $250 to $300 per sq. ft. That would have totaled between $750 000 and $1 million but was accomplished for less than $200,000.
Among the contributions were the flagpole, the monument in front, the landscaping, the sign and the granite countertops.
Mr. Prentakis asked if the renovated station would suffice for the next seven to ten years. The Chief said it would work until a new station is built. This led to the next topic.
Discussion of Long Term Plans for Public Safety Building(s) – Mr. Prentakis asked the Chief if he thought that a combined police and fire station still made sense now that the dispatch has gone to the RECC. The Chief answered that the first issue is the land. The Fire Department should be in the center of Town. This is not so important for the Police Department. He expressed his preference for a stand-alone police station, though if economic and considerations dictated a combined station, he would be fine with it. He has visited a number of combined stations and there are some problems. He observed that the dispatch center was the glue that held the combined departments together. With the RECC in place, dispatch facilities are no longer necessary. Mr.
Prentakis noted that the land costs are the problem with building two facilities. He wondered if there were operational costs that could be saved by combining the facilities. This might justify the additional land cost.
Ms. Jones pointed out that a previous committee recommended two departments in one building but that was assuming the dispatch center would be on site. Mr. Cresta added that the decision on one building or two needs to be made early in the process. One of the requirements for the Fire Department is that it be within one half mile of the Town center. Mr. Singer discussed a number of vacant properties that were within that radius. He noted that they have become fewer since the first Committee studied this issue. They are:
North Main St. 1) the used car lot adjacent to the Police Station
2) The corner of Forest St.
South Main St. 1) 23 acres next to Angelica’s - The land owner is currently near bankruptcy and the Town has been trying to take this land or back taxes. This property has access to Boston St. as well as to South Main.
2) Land in front of Fuller Meadow School. This property owner has indicated they have no interest in selling.
3) Currier property next to Fuller Meadow. They were approached in the past and are not interested in selling
4) Richardson’s fields.
Land could drive design. Ms. Lindberg noted that there are no grants for public safety buildings. The Town has taken advantage of other grant programs for addressing building needs. Mr. Cresta noted that the debt service for a number of projects will be complete soon, freeing up some bonding capacity. Ms. Jones added that the property adjacent to Angelica’s would be ideal. She wondered if the Town could be more aggressive in pursuing it. Mr. Singer said that the Town is going to the bankruptcy court with the hopes that the back taxes will be paid or the Town will acquire the land.
K-9 Officer - Mr. Prentakis asked the Chief if the K-9 officer had been chosen. The Chief said that he has submitted the letter requesting the grant. Even though he is certain of getting it, he does not want to contact Boston Police Department Canine Unit until the grant letter is in hand. They will make the final decision.
Other Business – Mr. Singer informed the Board that Veteran’s Agent Ted Butler is being recognized by the Boy Scouts of America as their 2014 Champion of Public Service.
Adjournment - Mr. Houten made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor. The meeting was adjourned at 9:10.
Mary Jane Morrin
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary
Timothy Houten, Clerk