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2014 - Minutes of September 8, 22, 29 Meetings
Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
September 8, 2014

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting.
Quorum present: Peter Skorput (PS), Chair; Earl Moffatt (EM); Karen Zick (KZ). Also present: Admin Asst Mark Webber (AA). No press present.

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

7:00 PM:        Bid opening for sale of Town owned property at 3 Cross Road. PS reads the legal notice
as it appeared in the 8/18/14 and 8/25/14 Berkshire Eagle. Following a motion and unanimous vote to close acceptance of bids, AA informs the Board that no bids were received.  Following a discussion and noting that an auction to dispose of this same property was previously held with no bidders, Board decides to seek an appropriation at a future town meeting to tear the property down. Board notes that the building is in bad shape and that neighbors are concerned that it may be festering rats. AA informs the Board that the abutting property on the west side is in tax title and may also be going to a tax taking and auction in the future.

7:15 PM:        Highway Supt Curt Wilton (CW) give the Board an update:
  • CW requests that a Capital Planning Committee be formed to study and make recommendations for highway department future capital equipment needs. CW would feel better if professional non-direct-interest parties investigate the Town's capital needs. AA points out that the Town's Finance Committee also acts as the Town's Capital Planning Committee and that it's chairman Bob Salerno has recently expressed an interest in meeting with the highway and other Town departments. Following a discussion, it is suggested that a 5 member sub-committee be formed to investigate capital needs. Members would consist of 1 from Board of Selectmen, 2 from FinCom and 2 at large with a background in capital purchases. PS volunteers to be on the committee to represent the Selectmen. AA will contact Bob Salerno to fill him in and come up with a schedule.
  • CW informs the Board of a drainage situation that has been brought to his attention by a Woodruff Road resident. Bob Osterhout is concerned that a drainage culvert installed by the Army Corps of Engineers back in the late 1970's may be deteriorating and causing washouts on his property. The culvert collects water from Red Rock Rd and crossed under the intersection of West Center and Woodruff and drains onto Mr Osterhout's property and forms a stream that continues to the northwest. Recent rain events have caused erosion of the area around the culvert exit. CW has done considerable research on the project and has determined that the Town had granted and had been granted construction and maintenance agreements for the installation and maintenance of the culvert. CW notes that the culvert is still doing its intended job but agrees that the outflow area on Mr Osterhout's property has deteriorated and is unsightly. While there is no concern for public safety or roadway integrity, CW wanted to let the Board know that the resident is concerned and that he may seek assistance from the Town. CW asks the Board members to view the property to get a better idea of the situation.
  • CW informs the Board that W.S. highway dept employees John Lyford and Jamie Boyer recently won a statewide championship in a MA Dept of Transportation plow truck skills and knowledge competition. Held last week in the Worcester area, John and Jamie beat out 15 other finalist from cities and towns from around the State and that John and Jamie will be sent to the national skills competition to be held on September 24th in Loveland, CO. Their expenses are being paid for in full by the State. Board congratulates the two men and wish them well.
7:35 PM:        Evie Kerswell, representative from the Mill Pond Tenants Association, addresses the
Board and seeks an update on the process of the Rent Control Board (RCB) hearing that was opened and continued to September 29th. AA explains that Town Counsel is reviewing the testimony and evidence submitted and will make a recommendation(s) to the RCB to assist them in making a decision on the two petitions presented at the original hearing. Evie informs the Board that mediation is taking place regarding a lawsuit brought by the tenants against the park owner claiming improper implementation of rent and water charges. Evie adds that negotiations are also taking place for the tenant's association to purchase the park from Mr Leveque, the current owner. She does not have a resolution timetable for either item. Evie also asks who she should direct questions to about improvements being made to trailer units at the park and whether building permits for same are required. Board suggests that she contact the Building Inspector.

Other Business/Action/Discussion Items:

  • Board reviews an application for entertainment received from 6 Depot Street. Those holding a liquor license who also hold live entertainment are required by MGL to submit an application to the Board of Selectmen (local licensing authority) detailing the dates and types of those events. The Board then reviews the application and either grants, denies or amends the application requests. Following review of the 6 Depot request, Board recommends that further events be postponed until a more precise schedule is submitted. The application only states 'one event a month on Fridays'. AA will follow up with the owner.
  • Chief of Police submits a written update to the Board.
  • Board discusses the downtown improvements project. Bids were opened on August 28th and only one bid was received from Caracas Construction of Ludlow, MA. Board discusses the options going forward: re-bid the project as soon as possible; re-bid the project in the spring or; go with the current bid submitted. AA notes that although the project is funded through a $1,000,000 MassWorks grant, the amount available for actual construction is approximately $850,000. Off the top comes engineering, project oversight and other professional costs. The bid from Caracas was for $990,000. Following a comprehensive review with the Caracas and the town's project engineer, Foresight Land Services, it was determined that the project could be scaled back by eliminating the enhanced paver treatment at the Depot/Center Streets crosswalk. This change would realize $150,000 in savings and would allow the project to go forward with the available funds. It is suggested by the Board that additional money might be sought through a town meeting appropriation to allow for the Depot/Center crosswalk treatment. Foresight notes that the Depot/Center intersection could be done at any time and not compromise any other project aspect. Foresight also cautioned that re-bidding the project now would delay the start for another 4=6 weeks and would push the project off to a spring start. Furthermore, the engineer thought it doubtful that more bidders would be interested in bidding on the same project that they chose not to bid on only a few weeks earlier. Foresight also cautioned that waiting to spring 2015 to re-bid the project could well result in even higher bid prices and would push the project into the next fiscal year with a fall, instead of spring 2015 completion date. After a discussion, Board decides to award the project to Caracas at the amended project amount of $846,000 and begin the construction now and complete it by June 30, 2015. Caracas has indicated their willingness to accept the reduced work scope and begin work on September 29th.
  • Residents voice concerns that the public restrooms haven't been properly stocked, especially over the Labor Day weekend. It is suggested that larger dispensers be installed.
  • KZ asks if a book of previous meeting minutes copies could be kept on file in the Library for ease of viewing. AA will contact the Town Clerk who would have to facilitate that request as keeper of Town records.
  • Board approves a Village School Use request for the ballfields on September 21.
  • There will be a Water/Sewer Commission meeting on September 10th.
  • Board signs an application for a sewer rate relief grant that, if approved, would reduce sewer capital debt expense next fiscal year by 20%. This is a statewide program.
  • AA informs the Board that last month's Village School electric bill from National Grid showed a credit of $54. Prior to the installation of the solar panels on the Village School roof, the normal July electric bill was in the range of $2,000.
8:30 PM:        There being no additional business to come before the Board, PS makes a motion to
adjourn. KZ seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      __________________________      ________________________
Peter Skorput, Chair                          Earl Moffatt                                       Karen Zick

Date: ___________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
September 22, 2014

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting.
Quorum present: Peter Skorput (PS), Chair; Karen Zick (KZ). Earl Moffatt (EM), absent. Also present: Admin Asst Mark Webber (AA). Press present: Doane Perry, Local Yokel.

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

7:00 PM:        Buildings and grounds update. Present are Bldgs and Grounds Superintendent Dominick
Luchi (DL) and Highway Supt Curt Wilton (CW). DL lists the repair items needed on the pick-up truck assigned to Buildings and Grounds. Exhaust repairs were performed. DL provides an estimate from Baldwin Motors of additional repairs, including brakes and suspension items totally approximately $1,900. DL would prefer not to use the truck until it's repaired. Following a discussion on who should perform the repairs, PS offers to get a second estimate.

DL gives an update on facilities, including the Village School/Town Offices and downtown public restrooms. DL suggests that driveway repairs be made adjacent to the police station before winter. Icing makes for a dangerous condition. He and CW will work on a plan and cost of same. Highway Dept could assist in repairs to save expense. KZ asks about the broken window in the gym and would like it replaced. Following a discussion, it is agreed that the driveway repairs should be the priority but the DL has an estimate in hand to replace the gym window. DL adds that the downtown merchants should participate in the maintenance of the downtown bathrooms since they are the main beneficiaries. He notes that when the bathrooms were installed in 2002, the plan was for the merchants to take care of them. Soon thereafter, the Town assumed that role and continues to do so. There have been complaints received about the cleanliness and stocking of the bathrooms, particularly over the weekends. PS states that it should be the Town's responsibility to take care of the bathrooms and that a plan needs to be put in place for weekend cleaning and checking. PS notes that they benefit the merchants and that the Town should be helping them.

DL adds that he made repairs to the compactor roofs and that the Fire Station/Town Garage roof will need replacement in 3-5 years. He patched the leak around the cupola but the area around it will need attention soon. Some windows need replacing at the Highway Garage and the furnace has a leak that needs to be addressed before heating season. An assessment should be made into whether the boiler should be replaced. The Town Offices are in good shape. DL discusses how best to clean the roof of debris so that the scupper drains don't get clogged and cause problems inside.

DL adds that the Card Pond beach area has been closed up for the season and that the lifeguard hired this year did a great job of helping to keep the area clean and neat all summer.

DL then speaks to issues that he said have been bothering him regarding the Fire Department. He voices criticism that trucks are properly inspected and questions the general operations of the Department and the Fire Chief's leadership. PS responds that all of the equipment is tested regularly and the trucks are in fine shape. The discussion then gets heated, voices are raised and DL uses expletives. AA states that the discussion is straying and inappropriate. Shortly thereafter, DL leaves the meeting and the discussion ends.

Other business/discussion items:

  • Downtown enhancement project is scheduled to begin on September 29th and will continue as long as weather permits then suspend for the winter then begin again as weather allows in the spring with an expected completion date of June 30, 2015.
  • Board has a brief discussion regarding the vacancy on the BHRSD School Committee created by the sudden passing of John Krahm. Board notes their and the Town's sadness of John's passing and express sympathies for his family.
  • Rent Control Board will meet on 9/29/14 at 7:00 PM for the continuation of an earlier RCB hearing.
8:15 PM:        There being no additional business to come before the Board, KZ makes a motion to
adjourn. PS seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      ________________________
Peter Skorput, Chair                         Karen Zick

Date: ___________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
September 29, 2014

6:30 PM:        Open meeting.
Quorum present: Peter Skorput (PS), Chair; Earl Moffatt (EM); Karen Zick (KZ). Also present: Admin Asst Mark Webber (AA). Press present: Local Yokel.

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

Other Business/Action/Discussion Items:

  • EM motions, per MGL Ch. 39:23B (2) to place an executive session on the agenda for the October 6, 2014 BOS meeting at 6:00 PM. KZ seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.
  • BHRSD Supt Peter Dillon will address the Board with a school building project update at its 10-6-14 meeting at 7:00 PM.
  • AA informs the Board that initial outreach by MA DOT has begun regarding the installation of solar panels in the vicinity of the Interchange 1 toll booths in West Stockbridge. More information will follow.
  • Board votes to hold Trick or Treat this year on Halloween, October 31st, from 4-7. No parade or party information is available at this time.
7:00 PM:        Board concludes its regular meeting and convenes to the Village School gymnasium for
the continuation of a Rent Control Board public hearing, last session of which was held on August 18, 2014.

7:05 PM:        PS reopens the RCB public hearing and notes that Town Counsel Patricia Cantor (PC) is
present and will provide an overview and update and field questions.

PC states that 2 issues were unresolved after the 8-18-14 meeting and that she has issued a ruling for the RCB on those matters. 1) water charges for tenants cannot be billed individually through meters and must be considered as part of the monthly rent and 2) the effective date of the base rent is 5/1/14 (opinion attached).

PS makes a motion that water costs to tenants must be included in the monthly rent and that the effective date of the base rent is May 1, 2014. EM seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Tenants Association spokesperson Evie Kerswell (EK) wants the following items removed from the owner's petition for rent increase calculations: 1) $35,000 for municipal water connection; 2) $13,000 legal fees related to oil spill and; 3) $6,300 for oil spill clean up.

EK would also like to see details on maintenance. EK says that the owner's figures do not add up. EK is anxious to get this hearing done and get the matter resolved.

Mill Pond tenant expresses concern that if there is a downwards rent adjustment, then they are concerned with getting their over-payments returned following the effective date of base rent.

Mill Pond owner Eric Leveque (EL) states that he will provide back up detail for expenses. EL asks that he be informed in a timely manner if what he submits isn't sufficient. EL asks what items he should or shouldn't include in his petition for rent increase, such as water costs, legal costs, oil spill remediation.

PC informs EL that all information furnished to the RCB is considered public record.

PC points out that water is an ongoing operating expense and can be treated as such. For example, if the cost of water to the owner increases, then that cost could be calculated into a new maximum rent. PC adds that the same would apply to other operating expenses, such as taxes.

Following a discussion, PS recommends that EL and EK meet soon and discuss differences and try to work out an agreeable amount of acceptable rent for both parties. Both EL and EK agree to meet and report back to the RCB as soon as they can.

7:45 PM:        PS asks if there is any additional comments or testimony from those present. Hearing
none, PS makes a motion to continue the hearing to October 20, 2014 at 7:00 PM in the Village School Gymnasium. EM seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

7:50 PM:        There being no additional business to come before the Board, KZ makes a motion to
adjourn tonight's meeting. PS seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      __________________________      ________________________
Peter Skorput, Chair                          Earl Moffatt                                       Karen Zick

Date: ___________

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