The Plympton Board of Selectmen met remotely on Monday, Jan. 10. Town Administrator Liz Dennehy addressed possible uses of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funds. There had previously been conversation about using a portion of the funds for HVAC work at the schools. Dennehy said that the town has had a difficult time getting a hold of COVID test kits and noted that some of those funds may need to be allocated toward purchasing those as soon as they are available. She said some funding will also need to be directed toward personnel costs for the Fire Department to disperse the kits. “I don’t think it would be a lot of money from our allotment,” Dennehy said. She further said that $5,000 should cover the expense. “We have a real need for testing capability,” she told the Selectmen.
Dennehy said that she acquired quotes for the appraisal of town owned land located on Brook St. She said the appraisal would cost $1,200. “I felt the amount was fair and I think we probably should go forward,” Selectman John Traynor said. Selectmen Chair Christine Joy said she agreed. Selectman Mark Russo said he did not like the idea of the appraisal but if they were going to move forward with it, he approved of the chosen appraiser. The Selectmen gave Dennehy the go ahead to move forward with the appraisal.
The Board of Selectmen also voted to accept the conservation restriction on a portion of land at 122 Main St. The total square footage of the lot is 186,806. “It’s a way to more significantly minimize the messing up of the environment over there,” Russo explained.
The town’s projects and priorities list were also discussed. Dennehy briefly touched on the COVID-19 response saying she and the Board of Health are in touch at least weekly. Regarding financial priorities, she said they are now turning to budget mode. Dennehy also said that a town meeting article may be considered to modify the bylaw and diversify the membership in the Capital Planning Committee.
Regarding affordable housing opportunities, Dennehy said they are aiming to develop an action plan based upon the Housing Production Plan. She said the Housing Production Plan is also due for an update soon. Dennehy also said that they are continuing to attempt to identify town owned land that would be appropriate for these opportunities.
Dennehy said the implementation of a pavement management plan is in progress. A town meeting article is being considered to fund four speed notice boxes and signage with lights for intersections such as Main St. and Ring Rd. and Winnetuxet Rd. and Prospect Rd. “It seems that our pavement painting does not have the desired effect,” Dennehy said of current attempts to control speed at these intersections.
MassDOT denied the town’s attempt to implement a heavy truck traffic exclusion. Dennehy said the State was not in favor of Plympton’s alternate route which would run through Halifax. She said Halifax would need to provide a letter of support were they to continue to pursue the exclusion. Traynor said he was not sure that it would be a good time to pursue this with Halifax as they currently have an interim town administrator. Russo said the decision by MassDOT was “disappointing.” The Selectmen agreed to wait a few months before pursuing anything further.
Regarding the transaction with Middleborough surrounding Soule Homestead, Dennehy said the legislation is currently in the Senate. She noted that she has not been able to get a definitive answer regarding where it stands other than that it is still in the third reading. Dennehy said she would reach out to Senator Michael Brady.
GATRA transportation services are currently in progress. “It’s been a bit stagnant; they have some turnover at GATRA,” Dennehy told the Selectmen. She went on to say that she has been told that someone should be in touch soon regarding level of service including scheduling and routes.
Under technology, Dennehy said the technology master plan including bolstering websites is currently in progress. Traynor suggested involving Silver Lake Technology Director Steve Pellowe in the conversations.
Issues being looked at by the Town Properties Committee were also discussed. Town Properties Committee Chair Jon Wilhelmsen said that there were many items ahead of the Plympton hearse in terms of priority but said that its current location is problematic. “It’s being taken advantage of by our little four-legged rodents,” he said. A storage facility is needed for the next few years. Wilhelmsen said that discussions were had regarding the need for a storage building but noted that it was “further down the list.” Dennehy suggested the possibility of a private entity housing it.
They also discussed a town meeting article for a study into the building of a new fire station. Wilhelmsen said, “at some point we are going to have to,” regarding the need for building a new station. He emphasized that the money needed now is for a study into the possibility of building a station, not actually building it.
Wilhelmsen said, “the library has been neglected for a bit.” There are lighting and plumbing issues that need to be addressed. There was a roof survey done regarding replacing the library roof. Wilhelmsen said that they now have a cost for the project. “When is the last time you remember us doing anything for the library at town meeting?” Wilhelmsen asked. “We can get that building back on track in pretty short order,” he told the Selectmen noting he was excluding the roof work in that assessment.
The Town House roof also needs to be replaced. Wilhelmsen said the roof is divided into three sections saying that they are focusing on sections 2 and 3 at the moment. He said they need to go out to bid so they have accurate estimates to bring to town meeting.
Dennehy said they are seeking grant funding to replace the cistern on the Town Green.
Dennehy said that they completed SERVPRO remediation at the Old Town House. She said that samples were taken, and they will need to follow asbestos protocols as a result when considering long term remediation. Wilhelmsen said they will need to look at some form of dehumidification for the first floor of the building to address the mold growth. Other issues needing addressing for the Old Town House are new locks and internet access for the building. The new locks would provide a record of who is going into the building. Internet access will be necessary to have those types of locks. “It’s always a long list at Town Properties,” Wilhelmsen said of the myriad of projects needing addressing in municipal buildings.
Traynor spoke regarding cemetery cleanup for North Plympton. He said that the woman who owns the land finally signed the agreement via email but still needs to sign the more formal agreement on paper. He said it was, “in progress.”
Long-term items being followed include the Carver Urban Renewal Project, the Rocky Harvest Settlement Compliance, future exploration of shared services, grants, and MBTA communities multi-family zoning requirements.
Russo said his rave was for the opening of the annual and special town meeting. “Essentially, out of that meeting… we, the Selectmen, get our marching orders for the year,” he explained.
Traynor said his rave was for Library Director Michael Slawson and the many programs he is successfully running.
Joy said her rave was for “how beautiful it is in wintertime with snow on the ground and the bogs; what a great part of the country we live in with how beautiful it is.”