The Plympton Board of Selectmen met on Monday evening, July 12. Chair Christine Joy said that a vote would need to be taken to appoint Suzanne Jafferian to a three-year term on the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Chair of the ZBA Ken Thompson was on the call and said that fellow ZBA member Colleen Thompson plans to hold an open house to introduce future prospective members to the Board on July 20. The vote to appoint Jafferian through June of 2024 was unanimous.
Rescinding of State of Emergency
The next order to business was to ratify the rescinding of the town declared state of emergency which came at the suggestion of Fire Chief Steve Silva who also serves as Director of Emergency Services. The vote to ratify the rescinding was unanimous.
Corrections to Reappointments
The Board then had to rescind their votes to reappoint a number of individuals from their previous meeting with the exception of the appointments for Dave Alberti and Ethan Stiles to the ZBA. On June 21, the Selectmen approved the reappointments of several individuals to several Boards and Committees through 2022 when they should have been through 2024. The Selectmen corrected their errors. Before continuing, Selectman Mark Russo spoke to the appointment process saying, “It’s been kind of a challenge for years and continues to be kind of a struggle… so it’s something that I think we need to keep working on and absolutely aiming at a new protocol next year.” Joy agreed saying, “It definitely needs an overhaul – long overdue.”
Amendment to ADA Ramp Project
The Town Properties Committee brought forth the need for an amendment to the ADA ramp project consultant agreement. The amendment was to change the compensation for the engineer from $12,500 to $16,000. “Is the project still going to come in at $50,000 total?” Joy asked. Selectman John Traynor said it would not. “This is the ramp that would run from the old police station entrance to the main entrance now,” Traynor explained. He continued, “We received a grant of $95,000 from the State… originally the assignment of the money was for a lift or an elevator but after talking to the State more we suggested that we would be better off with a ramp; we all agreed on the Town Properties Committee.”
Chair of the Town Properties Committee Jon Wilhelmsen joined the call and spoke to the amendment. Wilhelmsen said, “We hoped we could get it under $50,000 but that’s not possible given the amount of materials and work and cost and everything like that,” he explained. Joy asked if the project would still come in under the grant amount of $95,000. Wilhelmsen said that while he anticipated that, it couldn’t be guaranteed at this time. Wilhelmsen also explained that they have as an alternate project, getting rid of the two steps at the entryway. “The ones everyone falls over,” he said. “Should the first bid come in and we get the alternate, we might be able to do it all; my guess is that given the way that costs are and we are going out to bid in the next couple of weeks, we might only be able to – with the money we got from the State, the earmark – we’ll probably only be able to get the main ramp in but if the alternates come in at a reasonable amount… we might be able to look at other sources of funding to be able to do it as part of the project too,” Wilhelmsen told the Board. He said the alternate project is estimated at roughly $12,000 to $18,000. The Selectmen voted to approve the amendment.
Carver Urban Renewal Project
Town Administrator Liz Dennehy told the Selectmen that she had received an update from the Carver Town Administrator regarding the Carver Urban Renewal Project. He told Dennehy that there may be a public meeting in August with the Carver Redevelopment Authority. She said they are looking to hire a direct consultant for the project that people could contact. Carver is considering having a special town meeting in October to consider a zoning amendment that would increase the height allowance for the buildings. “I think it’s something that we should stay on top of particularly if we have Plympton residents located near the project especially if the building height somehow gets allowed to be up to 65 ft,” Dennehy told the Selectmen. She said the Board might want to consider going on record formally at some point regarding their thoughts on the project. Traynor said that when they talked to them, they had agreed to take out the zoning piece that abutted Plympton. He said the acreage from the Plympton line was significant.
Board of Selectmen Liaisons
The Selectmen also reviewed the Board’s liaisons assignments. The Historic Society was reassigned from Russo to Traynor per Traynor’s request. “I don’t want to get in the way of enthusiasm so it’s all yours,” Russo said with a smile. Traynor also asked to be made the liaison to the Recreation Commission. “I think the Town Properties Committee is going to be very involved with the Recreation Committee as we lay out the campus plan,” Traynor said. The Town Clerk was also transferred from Russo to Joy. Wage and Personnel was transferred from Russo to Traynor.
Town Administrator’s Update
Dennehy said the town had received another $32,000 in CARES Act reimbursements from the County. “So far so good; we’ve largely been made whole,” Dennehy said of the reimbursements. Regarding the Green Communities, Dennehy said that they have begun the weatherization project at the Dennett Elementary School. Dennehy also said that they will be doing Wi-Fi thermostats at the historical building (the Old Townhouse). In another update, she said the bylaws regarding kennel inspections have been requested to be reviewed. They will have to look into how partnering with Carver for animal control will affect such things. Dennehy told the Selectmen that Police Chief Matt Clancy has been working on the new phone system. She said that they are not quite up and running as there have been some technical difficulties. “Hopefully, in relatively short order, we will all be functioning on the new phone system and then we can terminate the old one,” Dennehy explained.
Habitat for Humanity
There was also an extension of previous conversations regarding Habitat for Humanity building affordable housing in the town. Dennehy said that she and Traynor met with the representatives from Habitat the previous week. Sites being considered include the old portion of Brook St. as well as another on Main St. Habitat plans to send their engineer out to look at the lots. Dennehy said they would have to go through an RFP process because of the value of the land. She further said that in working with Habitat and the State, Plympton would be able to select the population for the housing. The town would most be interested in working with either age 55 plus or 62 plus. There are specific requirements for each including how many people living in the home must be that age. Dennehy said she wasn’t sure if they could do a combination such as 4 units with two being designated for 55 plus and two for 62 plus. She also noted that they could request a local preference though she wasn’t sure if they could stack preferences. “Regardless of how it shakes out, I think we have an ability here to do a very nice project… there was talk of possibly four units on the site,” Dennehy explained. Joy brought up the possibility of someone in town wanting to donate an unused lot in order to get a tax write off for the donation. “To me the opportunity here is huge,” Wilhelmsen said.
Rants and Raves
As is customary, the Selectmen concluded their meeting with their rants and raves. Russo went first saying that he was glad that the end of year budgeting and administrative issues were through. “Glad to have new people and talented people getting involved,” Russo said speaking to Jafferian who had joined the call to say hello. Traynor went next saying, “If you live on the north end of Crescent St. we have a lot of excitement this week. If you’ve been following Plympton helping Plympton, we have an owl that has decided to make it’s residence between the three houses on the street down this end.” He went on to say that the owl was lethargic and that he was brought to the Cape Wildlife Center. It was found there that the owl had a broken wing and couldn’t fly. “It’s going to be a three-week recovery,” he explained.
Joy said her rave was for someone she doesn’t even know. She said she recently had a dead battery in Plymouth and a kind man helped her jump her car. “Thank you to the kindness of strangers that are there to help each other out,” Joy said.