The Plympton Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, Nov. 4, began with a decision to include a warrant article at special town meeting that would authorize the selectmen to create safety zones in some of the town’s more dangerous intersections including Ring Road and Main Street. Selectmen hope to reduce the speed limits for safety sake. Selectman Mark Russo said any decisions made would be done with a great deal of input from residents who live near the designated areas.
Robert Firlotte, who was in attendance, was appointed the interim highway superintendent as well as to the emergency management team. Both terms are from October 21, 2019 to June 30, 2020. Firlotte also agreed with selectmen regarding the safety zone article to be voted on at special town meeting.
Selectman John Traynor inquired about the town’s policy regarding alcohol on town owned property. Selectmen assistant Briggette Martins said that the insurance said it is absolutely not allowed without a permit. Bringing your own alcohol to events on town owned property is also prohibited. Other nearby towns such as Halifax have banned alcohol from town property. Selectmen Chair Christine Joy said, “Years ago, we had an incident at the town house and there were some pretty severe repercussions for people that had been drinking at the town house.” Russo asked about the alternative to banning alcohol and was told that it would be $2500 per event for the person serving the alcohol to receive a permit with insurance. Joy said, “I think it’s cut and dry; we cannot put the town in a position where we’re compromised by allowing people to drink in town buildings. It just does not make any sense.” After some discussion, the other selectmen agreed and a motion was passed to adopt a policy to ban alcohol on all town owned property. Dennehy said she would send a memo. Russo said, “Be really clear that we are doing this to protect the town and that it is cost prohibitive to do otherwise.”
Traynor also brought before the Board, an issue with a lack of service in Plympton and Halifax by The Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA). Traynor presented a map of the state shaded to indicate Transit Authority coverage. Traynor said, “Basically these transit authorities they cover almost the whole state.” He continued, “That little white spot… is Halifax and Plympton. We’re the only ones that don’t have coverage for regional transit authority.” Traynor also shared some statistics showing the number of people per square mile for many of the surrounding south shore towns.
Plympton and Halifax had previously been told they don’t have enough people per square mile to qualify for service. When combined, however, Plympton and Halifax have more people per square mile than Carver that does have service.
Traynor said he reached out to Halifax Selectman Tom Millias who lent his full support. Traynor also enlisted the help of Senator Michael Brady and Representative Kathleen LaNatra. The next step would be finding out the cost of bringing service to the two towns.
Town administrator Elizabeth Dennehy gave an update on various items including the old jail cell that went out to bid. The cell, which was classified as town owned surplus property, was awarded to the highest bidder, Ken Thompson, for $203.
Dennehy said that a large meeting will be held on November 19 to discuss the fiber optic plan and make sure that all parties are on the same page. Representatives from regional dispatch, Industrial Communications, and Open Cape and their subcontractor will be present. The regional dispatch center is installing their own exclusive fiber connection that will run from them to the Plympton Police Department; it will be done by a combination of Comcast and Industrial Communications. Dennehy said it is important to ensure that the two systems can function together with special attention being paid to the fiber that Plympton is putting into the police station. Dennehy also said that going forward, it may be necessary to bring a company on board to maintain the physical fiber network and handle the network administration work. Steve Pellowe, the technology director for the Silver Lake Regional School District has also been asked to attend the meeting.
Dennehy also alerted the Board that the dispatch cost for next year is set to rise significantly. Costs are estimated at $200,000 for next year, four times that of the previous two fiscal years. The previous numbers were a discounted rate and also incorporated grant money. Dennehy said that she had already shared those numbers with the Chair of the Finance Committee. Joy asked if the amount was negotiable and Dennehy said she didn’t believe there was much flexibility. The formula is based on call volume and population. Dennehy did say that if they can get more people to join, Plympton’s costs will go down. Dennehy believed that they are currently in negotiations with Hanson. Dennehy and the Board agreed to look into the possibility of acquiring a grant to help offset the costs.
Important upcoming dates include the first meeting of the newly formed town campus committee on November 19 at 6 p.m. at the Town House. The Selectmen would like to have Area 58 televise the meeting. Also of note, the Plympton Council on Aging Christmas party will be held on December 11 at noon at the Upland Club. RSVPs have been requested by November 28. Those wishing to participate in the gift grab are asked to bring a $10 gift.
As they always do, the Board ended the meeting with their rants and/or raves of the past few weeks. Traynor praised those that put on the Veteran’s Appreciation Day this past weekend. Traynor said that the Boy Scouts attended as did some from the VFW in Halifax. Traynor also praised the “fabulous voice” of Jodi Mulcahy who sang at the event.
Both Joy and Russo shared their appreciation for the efforts of all those present at the Planning Board solar hearings last week. They said that while it is always a challenge to balance the rights of individuals vs the public good, they both felt that the Plympton committees and boards handle that responsibility well.