The Plympton Board of Selectmen met virtually on Monday, May 23. They began with a reorganization of the Board. Christine Joy was once again elected as the Chair while John Traynor was voted in as Vice-Chair and Mark Russo as the Clerk.
Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy provided an update on the North Carver Redevelopment Project. She said that they had received some correspondence from residents who live in the affected area regarding heavy truck traffic around Montello St. Dennehy said that a meeting was being arranged between the highway directors of both towns.
“I think they’ve already done some things that they shouldn’t have done, and I don’t think they’ve been very neighborly,” Joy said of Carver. She said that the town needs to take advantage of whatever room is available legally to make sure affected residents are taken care of properly. Russo suggested that a committee might potentially be put together to provide regular updates on the project to both Selectmen and citizens.
Traynor said that he would like to be somewhat aggressive in the town’s approach. He said that if Carver does not respond positively to their requests, they should block the road and make it open to local traffic only and enforce it with a police detail as needed. Russo said he agreed but did not feel that Plympton should have to foot the bill for that police detail. The Selectmen voted to have Dennehy see if there is counsel that can be secured to ensure the best interest of the town.
The Selectmen also discussed the consideration of amendment to the agreement for judgment and settlement with Borrego regarding 61 Upland Rd. (Crescent Moon Cranberry. LLC). Russo said, “there are some strong reasons not to pursue – a long history for a difficult situation, but I have been thinking hard about some of the reasons to proceed and they are tending in my mind to outweigh the reasons not to… this seems like very easy money with little cost to the town.” He went on to say that if the solar project doesn’t go through, the land would be at risk for development. He said that while he does feel Plympton could use more development, he would like it to be done well and with strong input from town government. “In truth, Borrego’s been a good partner,” Russo said adding that both the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board have signed off on the project unanimously.
Joy asked if it would be possible to ask Borrego to purchase the entirety of the land and donate some of it back to the town for conservation to stop development. Jonathan Eichman of KP Law was on the call and was asked to please draft language asking Borrego if they would consider amending the settlement agreement as proposed. The Selectmen agreed to discuss further and make a decision during their June 6 meeting.
Dennehy brought to the Selectmen’s attention a historic outstanding balance in the ambulance fund. She said the auditor suggested having the Selectmen acknowledge the balance and write it off. The outstanding balance from the previous provider, COMSTAR, was just over $307,000. Dennehy described the accrued amount as “years and years of uncollected remnants of charges.” “I’m totally content to clear the books and it doesn’t seem to be a problem to periodically do this,” Russo said. The Selectmen voted to close out the account with COMSTAR.
The Selectmen also voted Monday to establish a policy regarding what flags can be flown on municipally owned flag poles. Town Counsel recommended two options, one of which was to prohibit the practice entirely outside of the U.S. flag, the State flag, and perhaps Plympton’s flag. The second option allowed more discernment on the part of the town’s government. Traynor said “I don’t want to be in the role of whose flag can go on the pole and who’s can’t. we have a lot of other things to do.” Joy and Russo agreed opting for the first option.
Dennehy provided a Town Administrator’s update. She said that they were moving along with the Townhouse roof project. She also told the Selectmen that they are working with the Highway Department on another grant funding source that is becoming available. It will provide $115,000 for roadway type projects. Dennehy said they are also looking to secure pricing for several projects so that the Selectmen can look at some potential ARPA projects during their next meeting. She also said that $25,000 has been earmarked for conservation/recreation. She said the funds will help the Town Properties Committee in assessing the sports fields. She also said that it would be used for updates to boardwalks and signage at some of the town’s parks.
Dennehy told the Selectmen that she had correspondence from Finance Committee Chair Nathaniel Sides announcing his resignation from the Committee. Dennehy said she was hopeful he would reconsider. “It would be a shame to have him step down,” she said. Traynor said that he was aware that Sides was unhappy with how certain votes went at town meeting. He said that Sides felt that the town, with the Selectmen’s backing, went against the recommendation of the Finance Committee on certain articles. Russo recognized that working on the Finance Committee is often a thankless job and said that he also hopes that Sides would reconsider. “I absolutely admire Nate’s work along the way,” Russo said.
The Selectmen ended their meeting with their rants and raves. Traynor said that his rave was for town meeting. “The voters who turned out, the stellar job that our moderator does – he sets the bar very high, that’s for sure,” Traynor said. He did, however, have a rant for the small percentage of registered voters that turned out for the town election. “The town voting was 327 people… only 13.8 percent… it takes 15 minutes to go in and vote… people should at least go in and take the time to support; we basically work for nothing… I always feel validated when I see a higher percentage of the town voting than the towns around us and that wasn’t the case this time,” Traynor lamented. Russo also said that his rave was for town meeting. He also gave a rave for the Plympton Board of Selectmen and the work that is accomplished by the three of them. Joy agreed about town meeting saying, “mine would be town meeting as well – all of the work that goes into it.”