Many of the department heads were present at the Tuesday, January 14 Halifax Board of Selectmen meeting to discuss a feasibility study that was conducted for their respective buildings. Fire Chief Jason Viveiros had sent a survey to the various departments inquiring about the state of their facilities.
The library reported to have issues with acoustics, lack of parking, and overuse of the bathroom since the playground renovation.
The police department stated that their building is just too large for their purposes.
The fire department reported the most significant problems and expressed their desire for a new building.
Pope’s Tavern which houses the Council on Aging also has a number of issues including a lack of accessibility. Additionally, a front room on the second floor is closed down due to a leak in the ceiling. Maintenance Director Scott Materna said that they do not yet have an estimate for the roof repair.
Board of Selectmen Chair Troy Garron said that the requests would have to be prioritized.
John Campbell of the Municipal and School Building Committee said that outside help would be needed in reviewing and prioritizing the various department’s needs. Campbell suggested an article at the annual town meeting to ask for money to hire such help. Garron agreed saying that bringing on a third party would help eliminate in-fighting.
Memorial Day parade committee requested
David Walsh from the Halifax VFW Post 6258 had an appointment to meet with the Selectmen to discuss some of his ideas as well as his concerns. Walsh asked that either the color guard or honor guard lead the Memorial Day parade this year as it is a day dedicated to the military. In the past, the parade has been led by the fire department. Walsh also requested the formation of a Memorial Day Committee. Walsh said, “It’s a very sacred holiday; I don’t think any of us have to be reminded how important this day is as a remembrance. It’s so different from Veteran’s Day when we honor all veterans for their service. On Memorial Day, we remember those special people that are no longer with us who worked so hard to give us what we have today. It is so important for future generations to understand this.”
Walsh, who emphasized how important children were to the VFW, also addressed what he referred to as “patriotic awareness of the youth.” According to Walsh, the veterans have held programs such as veteran’s assemblies at many of the surrounding elementary schools geared toward kindergarten to third-grade children. Walsh said that the children give speeches and the chorus and band are often incorporated.
Walsh described one ceremony years ago where the students formed a big gauntlet for the veterans to walk through as children high-fived and thanked them. Walsh said he would like to see similar programs brought to Halifax Elementary school. Garron, who was very receptive to Walsh’s suggestions, asked that he put them into writing and submit them to the board.
Planning Board candidates interviewed
The Board also held several interviews for the vacancy on the Planning Board. No vote could be had on any of the candidates, however, since the Planning Board did not post a meeting and wouldn’t be able to vote.
The first candidate to come before the board was Alan Dias, a 40-year resident of the town and an elected official on the Board of Health for the last five years. Dias said that he has been a self-employed surveying contractor for the last 30 years who has represented clients before planning boards. He also said that he knows how to read sewerage and draining plans. Selectman Tom Millias asked Dias if he had both the time and desire to dedicate to the position and Dias replied, “Yes, I do.”
Selectman Gordon Andrews asked Dias if he was aware that as an elected official, he is unable to represent someone in front of a town board. “As a member of the Board of Health, I went back and looked at the Conservation Committee minutes, and you represented Brookside Realty before the Conservation Committee. You acted as their agent and as their representative,” Andrews said to Dias. Dias said, “That’s Incorrect.” Andrews replied, “That is not incorrect. It is in the minutes from 2017.”
Dias said he has no affiliation with Brookside Realty. “It’s also in the minutes from the Planning Board meeting in 2018 that you represented Mr. White,” Andrews said. Dias said, “Yes, Brad White is a friend of mine.” Dias and Andrews then went back and forth regarding whether an elected official can represent someone in front of a town board.
Andrews said the exception would be if you have a personal interest in a property and are representing yourself. Both Dias and the other selectmen said they would have to look into the rule further.
Anonymous letters sent to selectmen not given credence
Town Administrator Charlie Seelig told the selectmen that he had received an anonymous letter about Dias. Dias said that while he had not read the letter, it was his understanding that the subject of the letter was similar to the accusations Andrews was making. Millias said, “As far as anonymous letters go, if someone doesn’t have the courage to put their name on it, I don’t give it much credence because anybody can make any accusation against anybody anonymously – isn’t that brave,” Millias said. Garron agreed and the letter was not read.
David Mascio, who has lived in town for 4 years, was next to interview for the opening. Mascio said he has a background in construction with knowledge in heavy equipment, carpentry, and plumbing, saying, “I know quite a bit about a lot.” Mascio explained his reasons for wanting to serve as follows, “I’m trying to get on the Planning Board to help shake things up in this town – protect our by-laws that we have. I understand that there are some differences in the town with some things that are going on. I brought my kids here for a reason so they could grow up in a farming community, a small community, not to watch it get impacted and grow… There are things that this town will require if we do grow more than we can fit. I understand that there is plenty of land; let’s leave it that way is the way I feel.”
Mascio went on to say, “I mean nothing disrespectful by it, but I think we need to start moving some of the older politicians that are in this town – maybe its time for them to step aside and let some younger people that have families, that really care about where their families are going to be brought up in,” Mascio said. As with Dias, Seelig said another anonymous letter was received regarding Mascio. Again, the selectmen declined to hear the letter on account of its anonymity.
The final interview was with Ashley DiSesa, a Director of Operations for a home remodeling company. DiSesa, who has lived in Halifax for five years, has two children, one in the school system where she volunteers frequently and attends PTO meetings.
DiSesa said she has a strong background in reading plans, working with engineers, and understanding by-laws. My biggest reason for wanting to get involved is I grew up in Carver, two towns over, always wanted to come here and be a part of Silver Lake…
I plan on being here long term and really just want to make sure we are making good decisions for my children to be able to grow up here.”
DiSesa stressed that she would look beyond her own wants when serving, “I feel like I could make good decisions for the town as a whole.”
Millias told DiSesa that should she not receive the appointment, he would encourage her to seek another volunteer opportunity.
Buds Goods and Provisions host agreement change
The final appointment of the night was with Alex Mazin of Buds Goods & Provisions. Garron asked Mazin if he was looking for a final answer regarding his proposed outdoor marijuana growing facility in Halifax.
Mazin responded that he was but with some contingencies. Some amendments were still needed on both sides of the host community agreement.
Mazin was looking to increase the size of the building from 10,000 sq. ft. to 20,000 sq. ft. Millias pointed out that under Massachusetts law, buildings over 7500 sq. ft. require sprinkler systems. Mazin said that they may end up going with several smaller structures, rather than one large one.
The biggest change requested by Mazin to the language of the agreement was to add “indoor” in addition to outdoor.
Mazin explained that the only reason for the requested change was to allow for some vegetation to occur indoors in order to prepare for the outdoor season. Andrews suggested adding to the language that the indoor growing would be for propagation purposes only. Millias agreed adding that he would like to see propagation defined in the agreement.
The Selectmen agreed to have the agreement amended as necessary before meeting to vote on Bud’s on Tuesday, January 28, at 7:30 p.m.