Monday January 9, 2017, Plympton’s Board of Selectmen met in executive session prior to their regular meeting due to continuing litigation discussions regarding Rocky Harvest, LLC. Several Brook Street neighbors and abutters were given a brief five minute update on what matters could be discussed in open meeting.
Once the open session began, the board turned its attention to Library Director Deb Batson, who introduced Andrew Adams, a member of Plympton’s Boy Scout Troop 53, as he proposed his Eagle Scout project to the Board.
His proposal is building bicycle racks for the Plympton Town Library. These however are not ordinary bike racks. Adams said, “They are removable for plowing in the winter.” He also presented drawn schematics for the board to look at.
The racks will be built out of two to three inch metal tubing and will be painted. Andrew is going to be getting help from his dad and uncle as well.
Adams said, “My dad is a metal worker, so he is going to help me with the metal work and my uncle is a mason, so he is going to help me get the cement.”
The board asked Andrew when he wanted to started his project and where outside the library he was planning on building the bike racks. Andrew said that he wanted to start in the spring. His plan for a location is in front of the library next to the delivery box.
Selectmen Chair Collen Thompson asked, “Would it make any sense it put it out back by the patio?” Andrew said that it could, but he was thinking of having it visible to the street.
As a whole, the board was happy with the work Andrew planned. Selectwoman Christine Joy told Andrew, “Great project. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done.”
Selectmen next turned a significant amount of the meeting’s attention to recent changes to the state’s public records laws.
In July of 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed Chapter 121 of the Acts of 2016, “An Act to Improve Public Records,” which became law on January 1, 2017.
The bill sought to improve access to public records by requiring towns and cities to have an electronic system in place where public records can be requested and sent out via a public records officer. The public records officer has ten days to produce the requested material or to give an answer why they cannot be produced within the timeframe and to give an estimate of when the records can be made available.
Currently, Town Clerk Tara Shaw is overseeing the implementation of these new laws. She has begun a lot of the groundwork and has already launched the town’s electronic public records request system.
Shaw presented a walkthrough of the request system to the Board of Selectmen, showing them that she put a link to it right on Plympton’s homepage labeled “Public Records Laws and Info” under the “Town Resources” section.
Shaw explained that the process was complex and setting this up took a lot of time. She says, “I’ve been to four public records conferences, and they just keep adding details every time.
Shaw also pointed out that a new position is likely needed for Plympton to fully comply with the new state laws. This adds a lot of responsibility outside the typical tasks of the town clerk.
She acknowledged that there really isn’t enough in this year’s budget for even a part time position. There may be a line item in the FY18 budget, but that remains to be determined.
For now, the board and Shaw focused on finding ways to make sure all town departments and committees are in compliance with the new laws. In order, to comply with the strict time limit the new public records laws dictate, Tara said that every department and committee needs a head contact person and phone number where they can be reached. She needs to be able to contact departments within 24 hours.
Traynor suggested holding a meeting with the head of all the departments to make sure this happens. Tara Shaw and the board will be setting that up shortly.
Other major topics discussed at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting included discussing the upcoming bylaw review meeting, the coming installation of panic buttons throughout the Plympton Town House, and a change the “Meet with a Selectman” time from every Tuesday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to by appointment. Not many people were coming to the regular office hours according to John Traynor, “Tuesdays are not working.”
New By-Law Review
Committee will meet
The town’s first Bylaw Review Committee meeting will take place Thursday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m. Selectmen Chair Colleen Thompson says, “It’ll (the groups) be split into municipal and zoning to give people a say on how they want to approach it.”
The board will appoint ten committee members and is considering ways to divide the group. A suggestion from Thompson was to split it evenly with five for municipal and five for zoning. This is still being discussed.
The board ended the meeting by changing their regular Tuesday office hours to appointment based office hours.
There will be no Selectmen’s meeting next week because of Martin Luther King Day. The next meeting will be on Monday, January 23, 2017.