The Plympton Board of Selectmen held a virtual meeting on Monday, April 26 during which they gave their recommendations on warrant articles for the upcoming special and annual town meeting on Wednesday, May 12.
Chair of the Plympton School Committee and Town Properties Committee Jon Wilhelmsen began the discussion, as he had to leave to attend a school committee meeting. Wilhelmsen went over some articles pertaining to both the Dennett Elementary School as well as the town campus. Wilhelmsen said that funds were set aside to be used as a thank you to the staff at Dennett. He pointed out the myriad of things the staff has done to go above and beyond during the past year’s pandemic. The teachers worked throughout most of the summer and were asked to work seven-hour days in the school during a pandemic, aides taught classes that were outside of their usual scope, and custodial staff worked long hours to ensure the building was sanitized. “We think it would go a long way for a small gesture to thank them for everything that we’ve done,” Wilhelmsen explained.
Wilhelmsen also touched on the potential projects being discussed by the Town Properties Committee including the roof at the Fire Station. He told the selectmen that the costs for various projects were only going to increase as time goes by. “If we wait three years, five years, seven years, the only thing I can be certain of is we will have more costs,” he explained. Selectman Christine Joy said, “Starting to get a game plan together is truly appreciated.” Selectman Chair Mark Russo alluded to the many town volunteers who volunteer in a multitude of capacities saying of Wilhelmsen, “Jon may be the paradigm of how many hats can one guy wear.”
Town Moderator Barry DeCristofano said of town meeting, “Because we’re not fully out of the woods yet with Covid, it seems the best approach would be to run the meeting this year the same way we ran it last year.” Town meeting will utilize two rooms just as it did last year and Brian Wick will once again serve as the Assistant Town Moderator in the second room. DeCristofano said the town has hired the same audio/visual company as the previous year since the 2020 town meeting ran so smoothly. “Let’s hope this is the last time it gets so complicated,” he said.
In addition to DeCristofano, the Selectmen were joined by Chair of the Bylaw Review Committee Alan Wheelock and Chair of the Finance Committee Nathaniel Sides. The Selectmen first decided on who would present each of the articles at town meeting. They began with the special town meeting and voted unanimously to ratify acceptance of the first 11 articles. Sides noted that the Finance Committee voted not to approve Item 11B.
The Selectmen then turned their attention to the articles for the annual town meeting. Articles of note include Article 4, which is the line-by-line main budget for the town, and Article 8, which will propose moving toward an appointed town clerk. Articles 17 and 18 pertain to the Police but will be introduced at town meeting by Joy as Plympton Police Chief Matthew Clancy is not a town resident. Articles 19-21 pertain to the Fire Department. Article 23 is the power purchase agreement for solar. Articles 24-29 will pertain to the town campus and will be introduced by the Town Properties Committee and the School Committee will introduce Articles 32-34.
As described in the notice for the public hearing, Article 30 proposes the creation of a new section in the Plympton bylaws “providing for the creation of ‘Accessory Dwelling Units’ as well as associated standards, procedures and provisions for such Accessory Dwelling Units.” The public hearing is scheduled for May 3. The Selectmen decided not to make a recommendation on the article on Monday evening, as they haven’t yet heard from the Planning Board and the hearing has yet to take place. Joy suggested waiting to make their recommendation on town meeting floor after hearing the report from the Planning Board. The other Selectmen were in agreement.
Article 35, which was proposed by Russo, is for funding for a water study. Selectman John Traynor said, “I would rather see us put this off until we have a better idea of what we are getting into in terms of long-term financial costs… at least for this town meeting I would rather we not go forward.” Russo defended the article saying, “this obligates us to nothing more than $7,000 or less.” Russo explained that the intent was to get a handle on how reliable previous reporting has been. He said that he hoped that it would help with further water safety and protection. Joy said she was in favor of the article as she felt there had not been any oversight from the town for a long period of time. The Selectmen voted to recommend the article 2-1. Sides said the Finance Committee passed on making a recommendation on the article as they didn’t feel they had enough information to base a decision. The Finance Committee voted not to approve Articles 29, 32, and 33.
Following the discussion of the town meeting, the Selectmen turned their attention to other town business including the approval of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. They voted unanimously to approve the Finance Committee’s proposed budget of $11,990,351. They also voted to appoint Ronald Drollett Jr. as a Laborer with the Highway Department through June 30, 2021.
Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy provided an update saying that there had been a slight uptick in Coronavirus cases in town over the previous two weeks. “The Board of Health is tracking that pretty carefully,” she explained. Dennehy also said that the town is moving forward with several grant opportunities including the hazard mitigation plan. She also said that she is coordinating with Dennett to get the final pieces of the Green Communities grant completed. Dennehy said that they were waiting to hear back on a technical assistance grant as well.
As customary, the Selectmen ended their meeting with their rants or raves for the past few weeks. Joy said her rave was for “the amazing job the Town Administrator has done with the warrant and budget process this year; it has been so smooth.” Noting that multiple parties have been involved in the process, Joy said to Dennehy, “You really are the one driving the bus on this.”
Both Traynor and Russo said their raves were for Captain Cheryl Davis with the Plympton Fire Department. A ceremony was held Monday evening for Davis and both Traynor and Russo attended. Representative Kathy LaNatra’s administrative aide Christopher Jean presented Davis with a citation in LaNatra’s stead, and Davis was named by the VFW as the top paramedic in the entire state. “We are really lucky to have Cheryl. She brings so much to a small town like Plympton,” Traynor said. “I think we can be unbelievably proud of Cheryl and that she is a product of the Plympton Fire Department,” Russo said.
Joy said that Davis was proof that one person can make a difference.