By Beth David, Editor
With board member Charles Murphy absent due to the death of his mother-in-law, Theresa Carreiro, of Ohio, the Fairhaven Selectboard voted to table the discussion on the Rogers School and its possible uses.
The board also announced the death of Fairhaven active firefighter Frank Cruz, who died on January 6 after a long illness. The board began the meeting with moment of silence for both the deceased.
The board needs to decide how to proceed with the maintenance of the building. Town Administrator Mark Rees sumarized the history of the building since it was closed as a school. Consultants hired to study the building and community concluded that there were limited uses for the building, especially taking public sentiment into account.
The best solution is probably a public-private partnership that would allow the town and a partner, to apply for grants to restore the building, which will cost millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, “mothballing” the building, is recommended, said Mr. Rees, with estimated costs of about $252,000.
There are less expensive options, but the remaining board members, Selectboard chair Bob Espindola and Daniel Freitas, decided to hold off until Mr. Murphy could be present.
Susan Loo, a member of the Rogers School Study Committee, asked for clarification that any expenditure would have to be approved by Town Meeting. The board assured her that it would, indeed, need a TM vote.
The board did, however, vote to allow Mr. Rees to organize a public forum to discuss regulations for recreational marijuana establishments in town.
After a binding resolution passed statewide last year, the town cannot ban the so-called “pot shops” unless it holds another townwide vote.
By law, the town of Fairhaven would have to allow at least two shops in town, according to a formula set by the state based upon how many liquor stores a town has. The town can set maximum number of shops higher than that number.
Mr. Rees recommended that the board ask Town Meeting in May to pass a moratorium on the shops until the end of the year, so the town can have time to create regulations on their operation.
According to the law, if a town voted to approve the legalization of marijuana, which Fairhaven did, then the only way to ban them in town is to have another townwide vote.
Town Counsel Thomas Crotty recommended that the town hold a public forum to discuss those options.
Mr. Espindola explained that he felt comfortable voting on the issue without Mr. Murphy present because he is a member of the committee making the recommendation.
The board also briefly discussed the plans that Bristol County Agricultural High School has for a $103 million expansion. Mr. Freitas is the board’s representative and said he has been very impressed with what he has found there. The school is looking at upgrades that will include a new science center capable of holding several departments.
The school expects enrollment to go from about 450 to about 650 in the next few years.
Mr. Freitas said he was surprised to learn that three-quarters of the school is female. He met some older almuni who said there were only nine girls in the school when they attended decades ago.
“The kids seem to really like it,” said Mr. Freitas. “It’s an interesting school.”
Fairhaven sends about a dozen students a year to BCAHS.
The board also met in executive sesssion to discuss pending litigation in the case of Jonathan Alves, the police officer who was terminated in March of 2016.
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