By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday 8/23/21, the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed Town Beach personnel matters and signage at Cooke Park,
Board member Marcus Ferro and BPW Chair Brain Wotton were both absent from the meeting. Vice-Chairperson Robert “Hoppy” Hobson chaired the meeting.
The board first met with Town Beach parking attendant Gary Lavalette. BPW Superintendent Vinnie Furtado explained that a few meetings ago a resident came in to discuss issues at Town Beach that involved Mr. Lavalette.
Mr. Furtado said the board should have stopped the resident and waited to discuss the issues when Mr. Lavalette was present, but the board made a mistake. Mr. Furtado said that they apologize for letting the resident speak without Mr. Lavalette present.
Board members Cameron Durant and Frank Coelho said they apologized as well.
Mr. Hobson said Mr. Lavalette does a good job down at Town Beach and they really need him to help with parking because it is difficult for the teenagers they have working there, and they do the best they can.
Mr. Hobson said it can be controversial in the parking lot and that Mr. Lavalette can be quite controversial himself. Mr. Hobson said residents are going to love you or hate you.
He also said he had nothing bad to say about the resident who came in to voice her concerns, but everything should not have happened the way it did.
Mr. Lavalette said what happened was very unfortunate. He explained that telling people where to park can get quite controversial, and that people can be confrontational.
Mr. Lavalette said he did not know a resident had gone in front of the board and complained, but he heard about it from family members, people in town; and the Fairahven Neighborhood News published about it. Mr. Lavalette said it amplified and it snowballed.
He said he thinks everyone has learned a lesson from the situation and that they should all just move forward.
Mr. Hobson agreed that they should move forward, and whatever happens happens. Mr. Hobson said people on Facebook say things that are not true and newspapers can write things that are not true. Mr. Hobson said you have to get all sides of the story. Mr. Hobson said everyone has learned a lesson and they can all move on from it.
In another matter the board discussed the new signage at Cooke Park. Mr. Hobson said that Cooke Park has been the most controversial park; he has been on the board for 10 years and Cooke Park has been an issue the whole time.
Mr. Furtado explained that at a previous meeting they agreed to have an anchor placed in the rain garden with signage made by the Historical Commission to explain the memorial. The anchor and the sign have been placed at the park.
Mr. Furtado said he will not do or change anything at the park without board approval because he does not want to add to the controversy.
Mr. Durant said that he found out more information with the new signage. He said he thought the anchor and signage looked very good and historic, but town resident Karen Vilandry is upset there is no mention of the park being an old burial ground; and that she wanted recognition that the park used to be Oxford Burial Hill.
Mr. Durant said suggeseted that they add an additional sign stating that Cooke Park is the former Oxford Burial Hill. If that sign is added all the concerns would be met.
Mr. Coelho said the new sign that is alreqady there is too big; it can be seen from New Bedford.
Mr. Lavalette said he was also wondering if the anchor could be moved to the basin. Mr. Lavalette also said he had no problem with the Oxford Burial Hill sign being added.
Mr. Furtado said he would have to ask the EPA if they can put the anchor in the basin because the basin is part of the storm water permit.
Mr. Hobson said the board should not vote to do or change anything without a full board present., and they should table the matter until next meeting. It will also give Mr. Furtado time to check with the EPA about moving the anchor.
The board voted unanimously to table the matter.
Click here to download the entire 9/2/21 issue: 09-02-21 NFIAMusicNight
Support local journalism, donate to the Neighb News with PayPal.