The Plympton Board of Selectmen met on Tuesday, Sept. 8. They voted in favor of transferring funds in the amount of $24,950 from the Capital Stabilization Fund in order to finalize the purchase of Two Brooks Preserve, a 113-acre property off Prospect Road. While a transfer of more than $25,000 requires a vote at town meeting, anything under that amount requires only a vote of the Board of Selectman, Finance Committee, and Capital Improvement Committee.
Co-chair of the Open Space Committee Linda Leddy attended Tuesday’s virtual meeting. Leddy thanked the Board for their vote saying, “It is great to have this whole legal acquisition part done.” Leddy said they can now turn their attention to opening. While the town is working with Middleborough on Soule St. access, Leddy noted that there is a “little keyhole” access off Prospect St. that could be utilized if there is a delay. Selectman Christine Joy thanked both Leddy and fellow selectman Mark Russo as well as all those that fundraised to make the purchase possible. “It is definitely a labor of love,” Joy said. “Thank you so much for your hard work.”
Fire Chief Stephen Silva updated the Board on a number of grants that the Fire Department had been awarded. Saying it had been a good couple of weeks, Silva said they had received notification from FEMA of a $230,000 grant and also mentioned a nearly $12,000 grant. Silva said he was “cautiously optimistic” about several more federal grant opportunities. “I’m addicted to grants… we’re always looking for alternative funding,” Silva explained.
Silva also told the Board that he has been working in conjunction with the Board of Health to hopefully implement a program known as community paramedicine. The program has been successful in other local communities. The program would allow for the Board of Health and Fire Department to work together to provide a multitude of social services to residents including but not limited to mental health services, pharmaceutical services, COVID screenings, vaccinations, and car seat installations. According to Silva, any money spent should be reimbursable as the need for the program came out of the pandemic. Once approved, the program can be up and running within 30 days. “It’s a unique opportunity, very unique,” Silva said.
Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy told the Board that the Council on Aging (COA) was finally in receipt of their new COA van which was purchased in part through a grant. The town voted last year at special town meeting to appropriate the matching funds. It is an 8 passenger, handicap accessible van. Dennehy described it as a “huge win for us and our seniors.” Dennehy also told the Board that she received good news from the state and is now in possession of the $95,000 needed for ADA upgrades to the town house to enhance access for senior citizens.
Dennehy said she has applied for an extension on the Green Communities grant through September of next year. There are still funds left for some energy efficient appliances. A freezer will likely be purchased for the town house as the COA often receives large frozen deliveries. There are a few other odds and ends projects that will be explored including the possible installation of new thermostats at the old townhouse. Dennehy said she wants to be sure not to leave any money on the table.
Chair of the Plympton School Committee Jon Wilhelmsen attended the meeting to provide an update on the reopening plan for Dennett Elementary. While initially the school committee had voted to begin the year with a phased-in hybrid approach that would have seen most students beginning remotely, they have made adjustments that will allow them to begin in a hybrid model.
The first day of school will be Wednesday, Sept. 16. Wednesdays will be a full remote day for most cohorts. Wilhelmsen said that on any given day there will be 85-95 students in the school which is just under half of the number in a normal school year. Significant changes have been made to the building including removal of furniture and a new cafeteria setup. “The school is going to look quite a bit different than what you would normally expect,” Wilhelmsen explained. A Health and Safety Advisory Committee has also been established and will have representation from both faculty as well as parents.
There is a vacancy on the Silver Lake Regional School Committee. No one ran for the open seat this spring and while Jason Fraser was written in, he was unable to take it on with everything else on his plate. Wilhelmsen said he had been approached by someone with interest in the position.
Truck Traffic and Safety Zones
Two residents attended Tuesday’s meeting to discuss concerns over heavy truck traffic on certain roads. Joe Beck, who said he has been living on Main St. for 37 years, said that trucks are using the street as a cut through. “They’re flying by with no respect for anybody on the street. You can’t even ride your bike or walk on Main St,” Beck explained.
Selectman John Traynor and Building Inspector Tom Millias previously traveled to the work site of a project on Spring St. in Carver where the trucks are traveling to and from. Millias was told that the project would be over soon, and a request was put in for the trucks to travel Route 44 to 58. Russo said he would ask Millias to speak with them again and again, request that the trucks don’t cut across Main St.
Howard Randall had similar complaints regarding Parsonage Rd. and Prospect Rd. He said that a neighbor counted 35 gravel trucks the previous night. “That particular operation, the gravel operation, is six days a week… it certainly distracts from our life here,” Randall told the Board.
The Board expressed interest, as they have done in the past, with taking action to prevent speeding and other traffic infractions. The Board received permission during town meeting to designate safety zones with speed limits of 20 mph where they saw fit. The two intersections of greatest concern were Main St. and Ring Rd. and Prospect St. and Winnetuxet Rd.
The Board voted Tuesday to establish safety zones in both locations and plan to post signage to indicate the 20-mph speed limit. “I remember the time Plympton was known as a speed trap and that is a reputation I would love to have again,” Russo said. Russo also noted that there is nothing in state law that would prevent the safety zone from being rescinded in the future, should the need arise.
The Board plans to pursue action beyond just the safety zones. Traynor proposed establishing a committee to work on plans for making the intersections safer. Russo noted that nearly any solution beyond the safety zones is going to require money. “I think we’re going to be needing to bring to town meeting the request for some funds,” Russo said.