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2006 - Minutes of July 10, 19, 24, 31 Meetings

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
July 10, 2006

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
                Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
                Board reviews and approves weekly warrants.

6:45 PM:        Chief Cooper, per invitation from the Board, is present to discuss several Police Dept. items.

Chief informs the Board that he has no new news on his hiring by the Egremont Police Dept.

MK brings up the topic of the Chief's employment contract. The Board maintains the position that the Chief's current 5-year contract is invalid and that he working without a contract while the Chief maintains that his contract is valid for 2 more years. MK says that the contract status needs to be resolved.

Chief states that his attorney, Jack Collins, has been trying to get in touch with the Town's attorney, David Jenkins, but hasn't had any success. MK instructs the AA to contact the Town's attorney for the purpose of discussing next steps and to urge him to contact the Chief's attorney.

MK discusses the need to hire a new full-time Police Officer. Two candidates applied several months. Now that the selected candidate is no longer employed with the Town, it would be reasonable to offer the vacancy to the 2nd candidate - Rosario Messina. Chief agrees. Chief has spoken to Rosario and thinks he would make a great officer and he is available to begin work after giving ample notice to the Gt. Barrington PD.

The Board and Chief have a general discussion about probation period and obtaining a waiver from attending the police academy until the next available session. Full-time status would be obtained upon successful completion of the Academy.

MK wants to make sure that Rosario and all the other officers have up to date mandated training records on file. The Town is in a liable position when its officers are not fully trained. The prior list provided by the Chief was incomplete.

MK expresses concern about Rosario being on call. He lives too far away to respond to emergencies in a reasonable time. Chief agrees and suggests putting the State Police on call overnight for 2 nights a week. MK states that scheduling is the Chief's job; the Board doesn't want to become directly involved.

TSC makes a motion to appoint Rosario Messina to the position of full-time officer pending successful completion of the Academy. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor. AA to draft an employment agreement then run it by the Chief, Board and Town Counsel first.

MK asks that the Chief furnish the Town Accountant with updated pay rates for his Department and to provide them on the standardized Town forms; effective July 1. Chief agrees to sit with the AA to draw up a master payroll template for his Department.

Chief states that he has been towing cars parked near the Astore Quarry in response to neighborhood complaints. General discussion follows about where it is and isn't legal to park in that general area.

MK asks whether the Chief had an update on Protective Custody policy and if any neighboring Departments would take W. Stockbridge cases. Chief states that Lenox is reluctant to take in adult cases but will provide for juvenile cases. Chief says that he will check with the State Police to see if they can accept adult Protective Custody cases.

MK notes that he received a complaint about one of the WSPD officers regarding the handling of people at a party. Chief states that he follows a policy when dealing with similar matters. MK suggests that such a policy be shared with the Department officers and that the Chief might consider updating his book of Department policies. When completed, the Chief could furnish a copy to officers and have them sign that they have received and reviewed.

CW reiterates the need for up to date training and training records for all of the Department officers. The Town would be in a liable position if officers are not trained to mandated levels.

A general discussion follows regarding Department staffing and scheduling. Chief responds that his Department is staffed for 2 shifts per day, 7 days per week. CW states that he has no interest in getting involved in scheduling - all he wants is fairness in scheduling.

TSC asks for a review/clarification of what happens next if the Chief does not accept the Egremont position. MK responds that the Town's attorney needs to get in touch with the Chief's attorney then advise the Board on the next step.

CW states that he needs to be shown that the Chief wants to stay; the Chief needs to prove to the Board that he wants to stay. Chief responds that it is a '2-way street'. He has not felt particularly welcome or supported by the Board during the past several months. He needs to know that the Board supports him. CW states that if the Chief is fair with his staff then CW will be fair with him.

TSC suggests that the Chief come to Board meetings once or more a month to check in. Communication is important.

7:40 PM:        Norwin Rehm asks the Chief if he will be attending the TRIAD event in Dalton on 7/19. Chief says that he planned to attend.

7:45 PM:        Paul Geurtin addresses the Board on his proposal to assist the Town in applying for State funding for the reconstruction of the downtown area roads, sidewalks, etc. He reviews the benefits of parallel parking on both sides of Main St. Board thanks Mr. Geurtin for attending and the Board will review his and other proposals at their next meeting.

7:55 PM:        General discussion with Norwin Rehm re: Senior Center design and grant application. MK informs Mr. Rehm that the Board has been in contact with Tom Webb of Berkshire Housing about next year's application. Clark and Green has agreed to alter last years design/cost estimate to take in to account infrastructure reductions that will be picked up by the Town as part of its Village School project. Clark and Green will not be making any significant changes to the layout presented a year ago although there may be opportunities for minor changes if they don't prompt other mechanical, electrical, structural, etc. changes.

        Mr. Rehm reviews the history of the Senior Center process. CW responds that Public Hearing had decided that the Center will be 2,700 sq. ft. It's up to Clark and Green to design that space within the limits of the grant. Mr. Rehm states that he has his own design that accommodates all of his wishes in even less space.

8:05 PM:        Board discusses renting the old Police Station at the Town Hall to Maxymillian for use by MassHighway engineers for the next 20 months as a construction office during the Shaker Mill Bridge project. The Contractor will pay $750/month or $15,000 for the period of the project. Town will furnish heat and electric and Contractor will get their own phones and internet hooked up. CW makes a motion to rent the old Police Station for $750/mo. TSC seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

        Board has a brief discussion with Rosario Messina and welcomes him to the Department. He will meet with the AA to discuss insurance, etc.

        CW presents the Board will FY '07 Highway Dept. salary requests. CW gives comparisons to neighboring like-sized Departments which shows the proposed salaries to be around the middle of the range. Following a review, TSC makes a motion to approve salaries making note that her brother is an employee. MK seconds the motion, noting the Rule of Necessity for Tina's motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor with CW abstaining.

Other Items:    Board reviews a proposal to bid for Cemetery mowing. It is decided that phone quotes would be all that is required under bidding laws. TSC suggests that the whole Commission should be involved in deciding how best to take care of the mowing and care of the cemeteries. One of the Commission members may be interested in doing some of the mowing. Board agrees.

        Board reviews a letter from Mr. Munch who wishes to buy the old Shaker Mill Dam generator for $500. Board is inclined to sell it but will defer to the Historical Commission to see if they have any interest in keeping it. AA to contact Bob Salerno.

        AA informs the Board that a new State law requires that the Shaker Mill Dam be inspected by a qualified engineer every 2 years. The first inspection is due by the end of September 2006. AA to contact qualified engineers for a price. The Card Lake Dam falls under the same regulation but only has to be inspected every 3 years.

9:00 PM:        There being no additional business to discuss, CW makes a motion to adjourn. TSC seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting Minutes approved by:

______________________  _____________________   _______________________
Michael Kirchner, Chair Curt Wilton                     Tina Skorput Cooper

Date: ____________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
July 19, 2006

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting; Village School
Quorum present: Michael Kirchner (MK), Curt Wilton (CW), Tina Skorput Cooper (TSC). Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). No press present.

Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
Board reviews and approves weekly warrants.

6:45 PM:        Carol Kuller discusses several items regarding the Zucchini Festival: 1) who coordinates the Explorer volunteers? Board responds that the Chief of Police should be the contact person. 2) can the Highway Dept. supply trash receptacles as in the past? CW will provide. 3) can the Highway Dept. move the bleachers to the site? Highway Dept. will move bleachers. 4) will the Town furnish the required permits? Yes, the Board will issue a sign permit. 5) will the Town stock and clean the public bathrooms? Yes.

Jill Pixley, Friends of Library, asks the Board if there is available dry storage space for books in the basement of Village School. Board says fine, there should be enough space at the bottom of the stairs to the right.

6:50 PM:        Board discusses Josh Billings Race scheduled for September 17. Board has serious concerns about public safety because of the reconstruction of the Shaker Mill Bridge. It doesn't seem possible to ensure the safety to bicyclists and motorists during the race when the bridge is down to one lane with traffic lights. Board will defer to the Chief of Police for the final decision.

Board reviews amended employment agreement for Rosario Messina. Chief of Police and Town Counsel have suggested changes.

7:00 PM:        Herb May, representing Crane Lake Camp, seeks a Special Permit per the Town's amplified noise by-law for Camp events on July 21 and August 18. Mr. May states that he has spoken with a concerned neighbor regarding the events and past complaints regarding noise. The Camp has done its best to minimize disturbance to neighbors, including turning all speakers inward.

Board notes that the Camp has been a good neighbor over the years and following a discussion agrees to issue the Special Permit for the two dates. Herb May also asks if the Camp can utilize the Village School parking lot on 3 occasions (7/23, 7/25 and 8/20) for overflow parking. Board says fine.

Other Items:

Board discusses predicted Chapter 71 (Regional School Transportation) revenue increase over the Governor's original budget. Town of Stockbridge has inquired as to what the West Stockbridge Selectmen's position would be if additional revenue came to the District in the FY '07 State budget. Following a discussion, Board agrees to allow the BHRSD School Committee to discuss the subject at their next meeting in August. By then, the State budget may be approved and the Board can revisit the subject afterwards.

Board reviews proposals from 2 firms regarding quotes for services related to applying for State funds to rebuild the downtown infrastructure. AA will contact each vendor for clarification on their proposals and the cost of those services.

CW discusses a Chapter 90 Highway Aid project on Iron Ore/Iron Mine Roads. Developers of Silver Mine Road have escrowed several thousand dollars towards improvements to those two roads. CW would like to use Chapter 90 funds to complete the paving in the neighborhood. Board signs the Chapter 90 project request.

TSC asks what permits were issued to last year's Zucchini Festival so that the same ones can be issued for this year's event. The Board will issue a temporary sign permit. Fire Chief is in charge of any permits needed for fireworks.

TSC asks if a previously discussed Self-Help grant for park development was applied for. AA responds that a pre-requisite for applying is that Town have an Open Space Plan. By law, an Open Space Plan must come from the Conservation Commission. The Town has no such plan although the ConsCom plans to work on one.

TSC asks if it is appropriate for the new 15-minute parking signs on Main St. can remain. They replaced signs that were for 1-hour parking per Town By-law. Both CW and MK feel that a few 15-minute signs to facilitate quick in-out stops at Main St. stores would be O.K. without going to Town Meeting.

TSC asks if anything had been done about the Historic Commission's request of $2,600 for services related to placing the old Town Hall on the Historic Register. TSC notes that the Commission is not yet ready to apply. Board agrees that funds could be appropriated from Selectmen's Expenses when the Commission is ready. If necessary, those funds could be replenished at a future Town Meeting.

TSC asks if Clark and Green could make minor changes in the interior design of the Senior Center. MK notes that a recent letter from Clark and Green that they would have to charge for plan changes beyond the agreed revisions related to Senior Center project reductions picked up by the Town during its Village School renovation project. Following further discussion, Board instructs AA to contact Clark and Green to see if minor interior changes could be accommodated.

TSC asks if the Ag Commission members had been officially appointed yet. Board will review a list next week and make appointments.

TSC asks if a meeting with the Building Inspector and Zoning Enforcement Officer has been set up yet. MK responds that the Board needs to further develop its area of concerns before asking the two in to meet.

TSC asks if a letter has been sent yet to MassHighway requesting additional directional signs to Route 90 west. No, the letter has not been sent yet. Board will review a draft at next meeting.

TSC asks that the AA contact the Richmond Town Administrator to see if Richmond has plans for the shared COA van.

TSC asks if each of the 3 Selectmen can get mailboxes in the Town Hall to receive correspondence prior to meetings.

CW wishes to investigate installing an electrical receptacle near the public restrooms to accommodate the Zucchini Festival and other events in that area. Board agrees.

8:10 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, CW makes a motion to adjourn. TSC seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting Minutes approved by:

_____________________   _____________________   ____________________
Michael Kirchner, Chair Curt Wilton                     Tina Skorput Cooper

Date: ___________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
July 24, 2006

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting; Village School.
Quorum present: Curt Wilton (CW), Tina Skorput Cooper (TSC). Michael Kirchner away on vacation. Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). No press present.

Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
Board reviews and approves weekly warrants.

Board discusses and the following appointments to the newly formed Agricultural Commission: John Springstube; Russ Fadding; Victor Stannard, Sr.; Donald Wood and; Marc Fadding. Alternate members appointed are: Peter Negrini and Curt Wilton. TSC makes a motion to approve the aforementioned appointments. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

7:00 PM:        Anita Benk and her husband along with the Gustafsons speak to the Board regarding illegal parking near and trespassing at the Astore Quarry.

Ms. Benk asks about the ownership status of the Quarry. CW responds that the property is owned by the estate of John Astore; it is thought that nephew Charles is now the principal owner.

Ms. Benk calls for an overnight parking ban in the immediate area of the Quarry. CW responds that the process for a ban is to have the neighborhood file a petition with the Selectmen who, in turn, would bring it to Town Meeting.

Ms. Benk and the Gustafsons note that the incidence of illegal parking has lessened since the police have started towing vehicles. Also, the amount of litter in the area has been reduced.

CW notes that the Town does not own any of the property in the area used by people accessing the Quarry. MassElectric owns the right-of-way commonly used and they have not been vigilant over the years in securing the property nor have they shown any interest in prosecuting trespassers. CW goes on to say that the Town has erected 26 various No Parking signs in the area at $43 ea. and that is enough to send a clear message.

CW and TSC agree that towing should continue on all of the roadways near the Quarry including Sportsmen's Club Lane. CW suggests that the Police step up patrols and towing, if necessary, in the area. Chief Cooper states that patrols do police the area nearly every day. It is suggested that MassElectric be contacted again to re-secure the right-of-way entrance. Motorcycles can get in easily.

Quarry neighbors thank the Board for listening to and addressing their concerns.

7:25 PM:        George and Mary Allen ask the Board how long an issued building permit is valid. Board is not certain and refers the matter to the Building Inspector. The Allens are directed to the Building Inspector's office.

7:30 PM:        Chief Cooper informs the Board that he will not be accepting a job with the Egremont Police Department and that he will be staying on as Chief in West Stockbridge. An agreement couldn't be reached.

Board and Chief have a general discussion regarding his FY 2007 salary and wage rates for the full and part-time officers. The Chief put in for salary increases for all. Because of a misunderstanding on the timing and procedure of requesting and setting wages for Town employees, it is determined that the Chief's request for a salary increase be deferred until next week when a full Board is present.

CW notes that the Chief did not come to the Board prior to submitting his FY '07 wage requests. Chief Cooper responds that he did, indeed, propose FY 2007 Department salaries back in February during a joint Selectmen/FinCom meeting.

Board and the Chief discuss concerns regarding public safety for the Josh Billings Race. It is thought that the reconstruction of the Shaker Mill Bridge, which is on the race route, will cause a very dangerous situation. Chief has spoken with Emergency Management Director Lou Oggiani and both agree that an alternate route should be taken for the next 2 years. The Chief will contact race coordinator Patty Spector to discuss everyone's concerns.

8:15 PM:        Other Items:

                Board approves a temporary sign permit for the Zucchini Festival.

AA informs the Board that an unnamed developer called with inquiries about acceptable uses at the former Berkshire Truck Plaza. The developer will make a visit to Town at the end of August.

There will be a ConsCom public hearing on a Notice of Intent application by J.S. Lane for a settling pond at the Lane Quarry.

Board reviews and approves a MEMO to be sent to the West Stockbridge COA regarding the future status of the Richmond/West Stockbridge COA van. Richmond is planning on joining the BRTA and is expecting to receive a new van and the disposition of the current van needs to be addressed.

Board approves a letter to MassHighway requesting additional directional signage to get travelers to Route 90 W.

AA notes that he called Clark and Green to see if they could accommodate minor plan changes to the Senior Center design. Architect Steve McAllister is on vacation.

Board reviews a new version of the full-time Police Officer employment agreement. A copy is provided to the Chief for his review.

Board reviews a letter from the Board of Assessor's requesting a FY 2007 wage increase for Field Work. It is decided to defer on the matter for one week until a full Board is present.

CW presents and TSC approves a driveway permit for John Fullop.

8:35 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, TSC makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

_________________________       __________________________
Curt Wilton                             Tina Skorput Cooper

Date: _________________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
July 31, 2006

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting; Village School.
Quorum present: Michael Kirchner (MK); Curt Wilton (CW); Tina Skorput Cooper (TSC). Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). No press present.

Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
Board reviews and approves weekly warrants.

MK and Chief Cooper discuss Police Dept. FY '07 salaries. Chief provides copy of new rates for review.

MK asks about on-call rates for Chief. Chief responds that if Chief exceeds being called out more than 5 times per month, then he is paid time and one-half for time out. Otherwise, it is the standard $20 per on-call.

CW asks the Chief if there will be the expected 105 hours per week of Officer coverage. Chief responds, yes.

TSC makes a motion to adopt new wage rates for FY '07 per Chief's submittal. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

6:55 PM:        Patty Spector, Josh Billings Race coordinator, and Gige Deery discuss this year's bicycle race route and alternative routes due to the reconstruction of the Shaker Mill Bridge.

Patty notes that this will be the 30th anniversary of the race. Safety of bicyclists is always the main safety concern of race officials. MK adds that bicyclist safety is the #1 concern of the Selectmen also. That is why there has been discussion about an alternate route. Chief of Police Cooper has expressed the same concerns.

Patty suggests that a Cobb Road re-routing would be very dangerous. It is a very bad downhill corner and the roadway is in bad shape. Although it has been used in the past, it would be far more dangerous than a detour around Center and Depot Streets.

Patty Spector offers to pay for additional police if the Depot/Center detour could be worked out. MK points out that the Board is not trying to be contrary; the Board is just trying to come up with the safest alternative.

Gige Deery notes that a number of different bicycle routes have been used over the years. Changes have been made to improve safety. He fears that a Cobb Road route would result in accidents.

CW notes that the Board deferred to the Chief. The Board doesn't think that a Center/Depot detour will work but if the Chief can make it work, then fine.

Fire Chief Peter Skorput suggests an alternate route of Baker St. /Swamp Rd. /Lenox Mt. Road. Gige Deery says that the Lenox Mt. Road portion would be very dangerous.

Patty again asks the Board to reconsider a Center/Depot detour. MK suggests that the Board meet with the Police and Fire Chief this Thursday and walk the detour site and see if something can be worked out.

Patty and Gige thank the Board and will meet the Board on Thursday morning to view the site.

7:25 PM:        Chief Skorput discusses available Fire Dept. equipment from DCR. Chief would like to investigate what is available. Board approves.

Other Items:

"       Board reviews a concern expressed by the Berz' of West Center Road about roadside trash. CW notes that the Highway Dept. does not have the manpower to conduct roadside trash pick-up. If there are bags of trash left, they will be picked up and disposed. It is suggested that Berz' organize their neighbors for a trash pick-up on Earth Day.

"       Bernie Fallon, Public Market, asks if the Board would consider a few 15-minute parking signs on Main St. Parking is getting tight in the downtown area and spots are often taken up by Boards attending meetings at the Town Hall.  BOS agrees to put two 15 minute parking signs in front of Public Market.

"       TSC suggests that town wide parking bylaws should be looked at closely and amended. Board agrees and will propose a new bylaw at the next town meeting. TSC suggests giving a note to Town Officials asking them to use off-street parking during meetings. Board agrees.

"       Board reviews new solid waste contract with EcoWaste. MK points out an accelerator clause for fuel costs that he is uncomfortable with and asks that the contract be forwarded to Town Counsel for review.

"       Bernie Fallon notes that he was able to auction off some donated Yankee tickets. He received $550 in the raffle and the entire amount has gone to the charity named for Lindsay Graham. Board thanks Bernie for his good work.

"       Board has a general discussion about municipal licensing information.

"       Board approves a thank you letter to Sheriff Massimiano for Community Service painting at the Town Hall.

"       Board reviews a summary of the 2 proposals received for advancing a downtown roadway/sidewalk reconstruction project for Main St. Both proposals are similar in scope and price. Following a discussion, CW makes a motion to award the first phase to SEA at a cost of $6,000 which was appropriated at this past Annual Town Meeting. TSC seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

"       Board reviews request to increase Assessor's Field Work rates for FY '07. TSC makes a motion to accept new rates. MK seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

"       Following review, Board signs an employment agreement with new full-time Police Officer Rosario Messina.

"       Board reviews a report from the botanist hired by Lycott Engineering who was tasked with identifying endangered weeds in Card and Mill Ponds before aquatic weed removal can take place. DEP halted the project last year because its Natural Heritage Endangered Species map showed that 2 endangered weeds could be found in both Mill and Card Ponds. The (pre-approved by DEP) botanist surveyed the ponds two separate times and found none of the DEP identified weeds present.

"       CW notes that a mistake was made in the expiration date on the West Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club liquor license. A corrected license will be issued.

"       Board has a general discussion about the Cemetery Dept. and lawn mowing. Board decides to suggest to the Commission that it hold an organizational meeting to discuss cemetery mowing. The Board will assist in bidding, if desired.

"       MK notes that he will be meeting with an asbestos abatement contractor at Village School on Thursday morning to discuss a study/abatement proposal.

"       Board will send a friendly reminder to Town Treasurer Bruce Turner to stay on top of receipt turnover and deposits.

"       MK asks for an update on the Hill property for next week's meeting. MK also asks for an update from the Town's financial advisor for next week's meeting.

8:35 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, TSC makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. MK seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Minutes approved by:

____________________    ____________________    _____________________
Michael Kirchner, Chair Curt Wilton                     Tina Skorput Cooper

Date: ___________


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