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2007 - Minutes of October 1, 22, 29 Meetings

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
October 1, 2007

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

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

Board discusses offering the old office furniture in the storage trailers to a charity organization. If there are no takers, then it will be disposed of in another fashion.

Board discusses removing the old school bell/cupola from the town hall and moving it to a display area at the new town hall complex. AA will contract Tony Skorput who was involved in erecting the bell.

Board members will attend the semi-annual County Selectmen’s Association Dinner meeting in Lenox on 10-18.

A retirement affair has been scheduled for long-time ConsCom member Ed Desaulniers for 10-18 from 4-6PM at the Card Lake Inn.

AA will attend Procurement Officer Training in Boston from 10/23 – 10/25. Following this session, Chief Procurement Officer status from the Inspector General’s Office will be attained.

Board reviews and approves a response to Chief Cooper who sent a MEMO to the Board regarding a complaint he received from the owner of the old ice cream store/Albert’s Cookies property that cars from Troy’s Garage were being parked without permission on their property. Following an investigation of land records and approved auto licenses held by Troy’s, it was determined that Troy’s vehicles are not illegally parked or stored.

Chief of Police provides his October staffing schedule to the Board.

The following Village School/Town Hall items are reviewed and discussed:

Community space: After reviewing estimates to convert the last two (unused) classrooms to a shared community space, the Board decides to table the project for the present because the estimates came in over budget. Board will continue discussing the best use for this space.

Board reviews the on-going problem with windows. Many are difficult to lower. Manufacturer representatives and engineers are still working on the problem. Town will withhold payment until the matter is resolved.

Plant material will arrive on 10-3. AA and Highway Dept. crew will install.

Board discusses paving quotes received for paving the parking lot, police station parking and an overlay of the driveway loop. Three bids were received and the apparent low bidder is LB Corp. at $58,800. Bids will be reviewed with Project Manager before awarding.

7:25 PM:        Resident John Pons expresses his concerns with dead tree in front of his house on Lenox Rd. CW will investigate.

        Mr. Pons reads a long statement regarding the Police Chief Steering Committee and actions surrounding the process of reviewing the contract and employment status of the Chief. Mr. Pons speaks of the Committee’s recommendations and MGL Ch. 97A. Mr. Pons says that he sent his concerns to the Local Yokel for printing but the editors chose not to print them. TSC informs Mr. Pons that the Local Yokel is an independent publication not under the editorial control of the Selectmen.

        Mr. Pons adds that he had hoped that there would have been more disclosure during and after the process. MK reminds Mr. Pons that a great deal of the process was conducted in executive session meetings. Accordingly, those meetings are not public information in order to protect the rights of all parties involved.

        MK explains to Mr. Pons the distinction between appointments and contracts. The Chief’s disputed contract had a term of 5 years. His appointment was for 3 years. When the Board decided not to reappoint the Chief in June 2006, the effective term of the contract ran two years longer than his appointment. This inconsistency became a point of dispute between the Board and the Chief.

        Former Selectmen Elizabeth DiGrigoli offers that she was a signatory to the disputed 5-year contract and that she felt pressured into signing it at the time. Elizabeth offers that the Board should have reviewed the contract with Town Counsel but there was a push to get it signed before the upcoming Town Meeting and Elections.

        MK states that the Board will ask town counsel when and what items of the executive session regarding the Chief of Police can be released.

Other Items:    Fire Chief Peter Skorput discusses his desire to paint the fire station. He would like to change the color to a shade of red from the current white. The building is in need of paint and the white seems to attract dirt and insects. Board agrees.

        MK suggests that the Old Town Hall Re-use Committee be asked into a meeting in the near future to discuss the future of the old town hall. Operations will be moved out soon and its time to settle on a solid plan for the building.

        MK suggests that there may be enough funding left over from the Village School/Town Offices conversion project to help purchase a replacement van for the Council on Aging. He notes that a Town Meeting has been planned for the end of November to act on an article to provide funding for a replacement van. The Town is expected to hear in mid-November whether or not its grant for a new van will be approved or not. The article for a new van would be tabled if the Town were successful with its grant application.

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

Meeting Minutes approved by:

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

Date: ___________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
October 22, 2007

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting, Village School
Quorum present: Curt Wilton (CW), Tina Skorput Cooper (TSC). Michael Kirchner (MK) unable to attend. Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). No press present.
                Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes
                Board reviews and approves weekly warrants

7:00 PM:        CW opens the Informational Public Hearing to discuss the Council on Aging van. CW re-states the Board’s support of the grant application for a replacement van. He goes on to say that if the grant fails, the Board will bring forth and support a Town Meeting article for a replacement van.

        Norwin Rehm is concerned that the grant applied for will restrict van ownership to 5 years after which the Town would have return the van to a pool and re-apply for its use. CW and AA both explain to Mr. Rehm that what he is referring to is a completely different program from what was applied for. If the Town is lucky enough to win a grant, the van will be the Town’s with no restrictions. CW goes on to say that any award will be closely reviewed to make absolutely sure that it is the right fit for the Town.

        CW states that the Town expects to know by mid-November if it will receive an award. If so, the van will be available after July 1, 2008. Curt asks the COA representatives if that timeline is acceptable. Their response is positive.

        CW and TSC then discuss a date for a Special Town Meeting to present an article to purchase a replacement van. The article will be worded so that any appropriation will be offset either partially or in full with grant and or other funds. The STM date is set for November 26, 2007. It is suggested that the COA attend the November Finance Committee on the third Tuesday of the month to review the COA van situation and to seek their support for a Town Meeting article.

        The 15 audience members attending the meeting are in unanimous support of such a Town Meeting article.

7:30 PM:        Resident John Pons shows the Board photos of fallen limbs near his house. John provides some small limbs that he claims fell from a tree near his residence that he further claims is a Town owned tree. Mr. Pons has asked several times over the years to have the tree trimmed or taken down.  He is concerned that the tree will cause him personal and or property damage.

        CW apologizes for not acting quicker on Mr. Pon’s concerns. Tree Warden Bill Kie will be contacted tomorrow to ascertain whether or not the tree in question is within the Town’s right of way or on private property.

        Mr. Pons goes on to say that he is still concerned with the condition of the Cooper driveway. He states that, back in 1968, a stone from the driveway was kicked up and caused him serious injury.

        Mr. Pons then discusses the Assessor’s Office and their methods of valuing property. He has asked the Assessors to do assessing the right way for several years but they are still using the market and sales as their main tool. Mr. Pons states that he predicted the current sub-prime mortgage crisis four years ago but nobody listened.

        Mr. Pons continues with his concerns that the Chief of Police contract resolution was improperly done. MGL Ch. 97A was undermined. He states that the Chief’s 5-year contract was unenforceable and that a loophole was used to settle the dispute.

        CW defends the Board’s actions. He states that the Board’s job is to look out for the best interests of everyone in Town. A blue ribbon committee looked into the situation and reported back to the Town. The Board adopted the Committee’s recommendations and the matter was settled without going to court.

        In other business, the Board discusses the following:

        At the Board’s request, AA has drafted a Town Building Use Policy. Board will review next week.

        CW signs an agreement with the Southern Berkshire Emergency Planning Committee. The Town will join neighboring towns in various emergency planning activities.

8:30 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, Chair                      Tina Skorput Cooper

Date: __________


Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
October 29, 2007

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

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

Board reviews and approves Town Buildings Use Policy. TSC expresses her concern that the Librarian’s dog might be considered as a “therapy dog”. Town Counsel has reviewed and approved the policy as presented.

Board discusses the old town hall. Lipton Oil will be called to service the furnace. Maxymillian will stay in the downstairs office through the winter, so there will be a daytime presence. The thermostat will be relocated to provide for more efficient heating now that the building is largely unoccupied. The Old Town Hall Committee will be called in to a meeting with the Board in the next 2 weeks to discuss their progress on planning out the future disposition of the building. AA and Selectmen will be in charge of scheduling and enforcing the policy for the immediate future. Policy can be amended, in warranted, as time goes on.

CHP of Southern Berkshire has a request to use the gymnasium one day per week for a playgroup. Board decides to request CHP attend a future meeting to discuss their wishes.

AA to attend a meeting at Richmond Town Hall this Wednesday to discuss a local inoculation plan.

Board reviews the latest version of the Village School project punch list. Very few items remain to be fixed. The Library will be “punched out” by the architects this Saturday.

Board approves a letter to be sent to Mr. Pons in response to his concerns about branches falling from a Town tree. The Tree Warden has investigated he has determined that the tree is not in the town way.

Board discusses the Police Dept. CEGIS computer. It was stored in the basement during the construction and suffered water damage – apparently caused by construction activities. An insurance claim is being attempted through the General Contractor. Chief Cooper will get estimates for its replacement.

Board discusses the need to post meeting rooms and the gymnasium with occupancy limits. AA will speak with the Building Inspector.

Board discusses the Police Dept. phone. Today, phone calls forwarded to the Sheriff’s Communication Center are answered on a private line. Calls should go directly to the Communications Center with a reading that they originate from W. Stockbridge. Corrections will be discussed during the phone system meeting scheduled for this Friday with the vendor.

Board approves a driveway permit application for a Lenox Rd. residence.

Bill Kie asks CW for an update on the status of Van Shaak Road. CW was to investigate whether the road has been abandoned or if its still a Town maintained road. CW states that in the absence of any documents found that show the road abandoned, the only conclusion is that it is a Town owned road. Mr. Kie states that he is planning to have his abutting (to Van Shaak Road) property surveyed in the near future. CW says that the Highway Dept. will bring the road back to serviceable condition once the survey is completed. That way, the Town can be sure of the road layout.

BK asks if there will be a stove in the kitchen next to the gymnasium. MK responds that a full kitchen was on the construction ‘wish list’ but the cost came in way over budget. The stove would have required a fire suppression system. The Board weighed the cost of upgrading the kitchen to come into building and safety code requirements against the historic pattern of its use. Using the stove once or twice a year did not justify the huge expense.

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

Meeting minutes approved by:

___________________     ____________________    ______________________
Curt Wilton, Chair              Tina Skorput Cooper             Michael Kirchner

Date: _____________

Town of West Stockbridge 21 State Line Road, West Stockbridge, MA 01266
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