By Pattie Pacella, Neighb News Correspondent
The 8/27/19, Acushnet Selectboard meeting was the last one for Town Administrator Brian Noble. Julie Hebert, who is the town’s Finance Director/Accountant, also attended, her first meeting as Interim TA.
The Selectboard met with Department of Public Works Director, Dan Menard about upcoming streets that would be paved. Chairperson Roger Cabral said he was concerned why Mr. Menard was taking streets off of the Pavement Management Plan from year 2022, four years out, to pave now instead of going in theorder that the PMP recommended.
Mr. Cabral stated that the town paid $25,000 for the Pavement Management Plan by an independent company to put together a five year plan of streets that needed maintaining or repaving. He said it was adopted by the Selectboard in 2017 and he felt it should be used as a tool according to year and monies that the Town had for repaving.
Mr. Menard stated he was of the opinion that the document should be used as a tool or guideline for what streets needed to be repaved, but he was not of the opinion that it should be followed exactly as reported in the plan.
Hr stated that the first street on the list in the plan was his own and he did not think it was worse than any other in town.
“I don’t need the townspeople to get pissed off because they see that my street is the first getting done,” he said.
The Board continued to discuss the plan and the funds that the Town receives on a yearly basis .
Mr. Menard stated that the Town receives approximately $360,000 in Chapter 91 funds for street paving and maintenance yearly, and that the plan overestimates that cost.
“I am of the opinion that the we could deviate from the plan, and use it as a guide. I’m recommending streets that I feel are in more desperate need of paving and maintenance this year,” said Mr. Menard.
Selectboard member Kevin Gaspar agreed with Mr. Menard and stated that he thought the PMP was very disturbing. He said he believed the “plan was junk.”
Mr. Noble said that the plan was not junk, but he believed there has to be a balance between what streets get done that are perhaps overutilized daily by vehicles and then perhaps add a street that is in worse condition to the list as well. He said it is better to use the money to keep good roads maintained than to just apply it to ‘junky’ roads. He said that the PMP gives the board the best plan for the roads traveled the most.
Mr. Gaspar stated that he thinks the plan needs to be manipulated into what streets need to be done based on water and sewer needs as well as monies that are available. He said he was unsure where the plan got their figures from.
Selectboard member, David Desroches stated that he felt the PMP was a plan and absolutely could be used as a guideline to what streets are worse than others, but did not need to be followed exactly to the letter of how the plan was written. He said he believed that they should be looking at roads that are in disrepair and begin with those streets.
After much discussion, the Selectboard approved the five streets that Mr. Menard recommended. Those streets are Hathaway Street, Conduit, Homestead, Myrtle and Wilbur.
In other business, the Selectboard announced their individual recommendations for a nine person screening committee for the new Town Administrator position.
Mr. Cabral recommended, John Roy, a schoolteacher; Jennifer Downing, a representative from the School Committee, and Robert St. Jean of the Finance Committee.
Mr. Gaspar recommended Tom DaCosta, a well known resident and dedicated resident of Acushnet, who was instrumental in creating the Veterans Memorial Park.
Mr. Gaspar also recommended John Golden, a long time business owner and Ms. Labonte, the Town Clerk.
Mr. Desroches’s three recommendations were Heather Sylvia, the Director of the Acushnet Council on Aging; John Hancroft, who sits on the Finance Committee; and Les Dakin, a former Acushnet Selectboard member. The Selectboard voted for the nine individuals to be on the screening committee.
The Selectboard also agreed to pay six thousand dollars to Kevin Paicos for his role in assisting the screening Committee with applications and resumes for the Town Administrator position as well as to be an assistant to Ms. Hebert, should she need help as the interim TTA.
Mr. Gaspar said he wanted to make it clear that Mr. Paicos should not be whittling down the candidates, and that should be in the hands of the screening committee.
Mr. Noble stated that the contract for Mr. Paicos clearly states that “ALL” resumes were to go to the screening committee directly.
In other business, the Selectboard adopted the Remote Participation Policy for the town as an option for all boards and committees, but noted that each Board and Committee would have to adopt it for themselves if they so choose.
Finally, Mr. Cabral thanked Brian Noble for being there at his last Acushnet Selectboard meeting. Mr. Cabral stated he was a pleasure to work with and wished him much success as he moved forward.
“You don’t have to answer your phone if I call, but I hope you will if Ms. Hebert calls you,” Mr. Cabral said with a chuckle.
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