By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday, 2/5, the Fairhaven Board of Public Works met with town residents to discuss their recommendations for road work in the fiscal year 2019, finalized the new sewer rates and officially signed the contract for new Water Superintendent, Jeffery Furtado.
The board first approved the minutes for the last few BPW meetings. BPW Chairperson Michael Ristuccia made a motion to table the minutes from the 1/25 BPW meeting. The motion passed with board members Robert “Hoppy” Hobson and Cameron Durant against. Mr. Ristuccia did not give a reason for his objection to the minutes.
The 1/25 meeting was the special meeting the board held to hire Jeff Furtado, that resulted in some rather heated exchanges between board members and Selectboard member Daniel Freitas, and Mr. Freitas and some community members (see Neighb News 2/1/18 issue)
The tabled 1/25 meeting minutes discussion was not brought up again during the meeting, but the board did have an executive session regarding personnel matters, a water department grievance, and the water superintendent contract when the tabled matter may have been discussed.
The BPW also opened a discussion about their final recommendations for FY19 road work to a few residents who attended the meeting. Residents from Ebony Street, Billy’s Way, and Fir Street were all in attendance.
Fairhaven resident, Bruce Haslehurst of Ebony Street said that the road is very rough and the residents would like it to be paved. He said the section from Littleneck to Fisherman’s is the worst and the rain and snow make the road a mess.
Many residents complained of puddles that never go away, deep potholes and endless amounts of mud.
A few residents also mentioned that when it rains the silt from the roads pours into the ocean, which is terrible for the environment specifically at Blue Point.
“I feel sorry for these people,” Mr. Hobson said. “Every street mentioned has problems.”
Mr. Hobson said that he thinks a section of Ebony Street should be done. Because Ebony Street is almost a $300,000 job the board will only be able to do the street in pieces.
The BPW has $350,000 for road work, but Superintendent Vinnie Furtado said he hopes to be able to use $100,000 of Chapter 90 money to do Blue Point due to environmental reasons.
Mr. Durant said that the environmental issue is a huge factor. He asked Mr. Furtado if they will be able to get money to fix Blue Point due to environmental reasons rather than use the road work money.
Mr. Ristuccia and Mr. Furtado said they have plans to meet with the Buzzards Bay Coalition to possibly get some funding to fix Blue Point.
BPW board member Brian Wotton suggested they do the number one street on the list, which is Hope Avenue. He also suggested they do Fir Street, Billy’s Way, and a section of Ebony Street, which would put the total cost at about $350,000, which is the budget the BPW has.
“I agree with Brian,” Mr. Hobson said.
“I live on West Island and I understand the road conditions,” Mr. Ristuccia said. “I wish we could do them all.”
Mr. Ristuccia said that they had to be “realistic”…that not all the roads can be paved. They need to formulate a plan to have the all the roads paved in the future, he said.
Mr. Furtado said that he would like to get Hope Avenue Billy’s Way, Blue Point, and one third of Ebony Street done, which would put them over their road work budget. Mr. Furtado seemed pretty confident that he would be able to get $100,000 out of Chapter 90 funds to add to their $350,000 budget to complete all four roads.
The board voted unanimously to recommend all four roads.
In another matter the BPW revisited their discussion on increasing the sewer rates due to $25 million in upgrades that will need to be done to the Wastewater Treatment Plan in the coming years.
Mr. Furtado said that if the board raises the rates 35 cents, increasing the rates from $6.65 to an even $7.00, that would give them $150,000 more a year to put towards the $25 million needed for the upgrades.
Mr. Wotton said that would make the total increase of $14 per year for a resident.
The board voted unanimously to increase the sewer rates by 35 cents. The increase is effective as of April 1.
In other business, the board voted to have Mr. Durant and Mr. Ristuccia conduct interviews for Highway Department Truck Drivers.
The board also held a brief moment of silence for longtime resident and active town volunteer, Al Benac who just recently passed away.
“He always came in with great ideas,” Mr. Wotton said.
Mr. Hobson expressed how much Mr. Benac loved the town and all the things he did for Fairhaven.
The board convened in executive session to have Jeff Furtado officially sign his Water Department Superintendent contract, then reconvened in open session.
“I hope it lasts a long time,” Mr. Hobson said, “because I don’t want to go through this again,” he laughed.
“It’s a wonderful day for the town of Fairhaven,” said Mr. Ristuccia.
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