By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday 7/20 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed a sewer issue, happenings on Town Beach, and also voted on a new BPW representative for the Marine Resource Committee.
In a matter that resulted in a tie vote at their last meeting, and so required them to wait for the new member to be appointed, the BPW voted for a new Marine Resources Committee Representative.
Arguments between BPW members Frank. Coelho and Robert “Hoppy” Hobson have been public for several meetings. With new BPW member Marcus Ferro joining the board last week, the board decided it was time to revote for the MRC representative.
Mr. Hobson said he gave up his seat last year for Mr. Coelho because he was Chairperson of MRC. Mr. Hobson said he would like his spot back even if they alternate who represents the MRC every year. Mr. Hobson said he has a lot of experience and was a commercial fisherman. Mr. Hobson said he knows the rules and knows the players.
Mr. Coelho said he has been on MRC since 2003 and has only missed one meeting. He said Mr. Hobson told him he could be on both BPW and MRC when he was elected, said Mr. Coelho. He said the MRC has just started agreements with Union Wharf and other marinas and he would like to finish that. He said it is only eight months before they vote again because they have been arguing about it since February.
Mr. Hobson said he has never missed an MRC meeting.
Mr. Furtado said that whoever is not voted as the representative can be the alternate/secondary.
Mr. Wotton said maybe Mr. Coelho and Mr. Hobson can compromise.
Mr. Hobson said he does not want to compromise.
“I either get it or I don’t,” he said.
A motion was made for Mr. Coelho to be the MRC representative. Board member Cameron. Durant seconded the motion, but no one else voted in favor.
Another motion was made for Mr. Hobson to be the MRC representative. Mr. Ferro seconded the motion and Mr. Wotton voted in favor of the motion. The motion passed 3-2.
Mr. Ferro made a motion for Mr. Coelho to be the alternate and the motion passed.
Mr. Wotton said he hoped that Mr. Coelho and Mr. Hobson could work out their differences.
Mr. Hobson said he did not think so.
The board also met with resident Linda Costa via Zoom about a sewer issue on Sycamore Street. Ms. Costa said that she has had a nuisance tree in front of her property that has created multiple issues over the years. She had reached out to the former tree warden, she said but never got any response. She has also reached out to the new tree warden and they barely spoke. BPW Superintendent Vinnie Furtado talked to the tree warden and the he went by her property two weeks ago to look at the tree.
Ms. Costa said that the tree warden said that the tree does not need to be taken down.
Ms. Costa said that the tree has damaged the sewer pipe all the way into the road. She hired someone to fix the sewer pipe in her house and when they fixed it they put a camera down the pipe which showed roots in the pipe from the tree.
BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton explained that the BPW cannot help with getting the tree removed because that is the tree warden’s job, but they can help with the sewer issues. He suggested Mr. Furtado reach out to the tree warden and see if he can reassess the situation.
Ms. Costa said that the tree is ruining her home.
Mr. Wotton suggested they reach out to Town Administrator Mark Rees about communication issues with the tree warden not responding .
BPW Vice-Chairperson Robert “Hoppy” Hobson joked that it is easier reaching the president than the tree warden.
Ms. Costa said that the tree roots are so bad that in 2018 the tree caused a sinkhole in the road right above their sewer pipe, which the town fixed.
She also said the most recent issue she had was raw that sewage backed up into her basement. She called someone to fix/unclog her pipe, but they could only fix the pipe that was in the house, not all the way into the road where the break in the pipe is.
Mr. Hobson suggested the town put a camera in the pipe and take a look. Mr. Furtado said that the clean-out for the pipe is located in the house, so town employees cannot go in the resident’s house to put the camera in.
Mr. Hobson suggested the town try putting a camera through the main line instead of the private line.
The board agreed that the town employees will take a look and then address the issue from there.
In another matter Mr. Hobson asked about residents being allowed to attend meetings in the town. Mr. Wotton said he thought that meetings were open to the public.
Mr. Furtado said that all meetings should be open to the public, but each meeting can only have 10 people in the room at a time including the board members.
Mr. Hobson said that the Selectboard is not allowing residents to attend their meetings.
Board member Frank Coelho said that the Selectboard escorted two people out of their last meeting.
Mr. Wotton said that maybe it is the board’s personal preference. Mr. Wotton said that no matter what they still have to have the meeting available by Zoom for residents who do not feel comfortable attending in-person.
Mr. Wotton suggested that the BPW allow people to attend and each person can wait outside and be called in for their appointment that way they never have more than 10 people in the room at a time.
The board also discussed how well Town Beach has been running. Mr. Hobson said that the young parking attendants and Gary Lavalette have been doing a great job with parking and the Highway Department has been doing a great job too.
Mr. Hobson said that having someone older like Mr. Lavalette has really helped.
Mr. Wotton agreed, saying he has heard great compliments on how smoothly town beach has been running.
Mr. Furtado showed the board a new sign for Fir Street that states the street is for overflow beach parking and a beach pass is required to park there. He said they have 50 beach passes left and they sold 35 the day of the meeting.
Mr. Wotton suggested they order more because they still have a month or more of summer weather.
BPW board member Cameron Durant mentioned a few things they should look into to upgrade Town Beach a bit, such as paving the parking lot and possibly expanding it, extending the boardwalk, and painting the lookout tower.
Mr. Furtado said that the cost estimate to pave the lot was $500,000 using recycled pavement, but they need to get a design plan first and then they can start to apply for grants to cover the cost.
Mr. Furtado said that extending the boardwalk is something they can put in the capital plan for next year. To repaint the lookout tower he will get contact the Sheriff’s Department.
In another matter Mr. Furtado said they have been having issues with ABC Disposal because they have had some turnover and have a lot of new employees. He said they have been missing some houses when picking up trash. Mr. Furtado said they have been getting a lot of resident phone complaints.
Mr. Furtado said they called ABC and emailed their management so many times that some emails have been blocked. He said he has been in contact owners and they are working on the issue.
Mr. Wotton suggested speaking to the family again because it is an ongoing problem and lack of communication from the management.
Mr. Furtado said the owners are aware of the issues, but may be they can invite them into a BPW meeting.
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