The Plympton Board of Selectmen met remotely on Monday, March 8. Several representatives of the Old Colony Planning Council (OCPC) were invited to attend the meeting by Selectman Christine Joy to provide technical assistance regarding the safety zones that had been brought forth by the Selectmen and voted through at town meeting. The zones reduce speeds at certain problematic intersections in town.
Bill McNulty with the OCPC spoke about what they could do to provide assistance including advice regarding sign placement. He said that they can collect data to interpret what kind of effects the signs are having. Much of the technical assistance provided by OCPC has to do with speed limits. They can place tubes in the road that will record traffic volume, speed, and type of vehicle. McNulty also said that they could explore possible traffic calming techniques including narrowing travel lanes. He said that narrowing travel lanes has a “demonstrative effect on lowering speeds.”
Selectman Chair Mark Russo noted that the signs posted thus far alerting drivers to the reduced speed zones have not helped slow down traffic. “We’d like all the help we can get; the two areas where we established the safety zones are just hellaciously uncomfortable,” Russo told the OCPC representatives. Russo also said that he was interested in possibly reducing truck traffic or having a truck exclusion. McNulty said it was a possibility but that an alternate route would have to be available to trucks in order to gain approval from MassDOT. “We’ll look at the traffic pattern and identify the best alternate route for trucks,” he explained.
Joy said that any of the recommended work could eventually become a TIP project or a Transportation Improvement Program with federal funding. She noted that the data, etc. collected by OCPC would be helpful.
Next, the Selectmen looked at some possible town meeting articles. Chair of the Town Properties Committee Jon Wilhelmsen spoke to several related potential articles including the largest and priciest of which – a roof replacement at the Town House for an estimated $500,000. Wilhelmsen said that regardless of what decision is made about the work, some attention will likely need to be devoted to the project. Other potential articles related to the town campus include $7,500 for roof assessments at both the library and fire station and $7,000 for flagpole refurbishments at two locations in town. Other possible articles include a fund for general consultant and preliminary design services and the Center St. building refurbishment. The Town Properties Committee will prepare recommendations for the Selectmen to consider during their March 22 meeting.
Other potential articles include repurposing the leftover funds from the article that was created when hiring Town Administrator Liz Dennehy. The account still has $10,311 in it that could be put toward general search assistance for professional positions. Another possible article is for $5,000 toward hiring a hydrologist to perform analysis of reporting and consequences of Rocky Harvest water withdrawal. Joy explained that it would allow them to see trends.
The selectmen also discussed next steps with the proposal for a marijuana cultivation site in town from their previous meeting. Nick Rizzo had appeared before the Board during their previous meeting to inquire about their interest in his business which would include multiple greenhouses. The facility would not be public facing and the product would be sold to other establishments in the Commonwealth. Selectmen John Traynor said he had already received one message from a resident that was adamantly opposed to it as they were concerned about it being visible from Spring St.
There is a list of questions including potential revenue to the town that will be sent to Rizzo and his partner. The Selectmen can then decide what next steps to take based on the responses. Russo said that he sees the potential for revenue for the town without much disturbance. “I am kind of excited about this one for it being low impact and potentially in the exact right place,” Russo said. Rizzo had discussed a potential location with the Selectmen during the previous meeting though he doesn’t yet own any land in town.
The Selectmen also discussed how best to handle town owned land disposition, particularly lots of low value. Dennehy said the process is different if the lot is worth less than $35,000. She also noted that accepting a price that is much less than what it appraises for could raise issues with the State. Dennehy said that options include holding an auction or putting the land out to bid as was done recently for the Prospect Rd. lots. She said she would recommend an auction for low value land saying that she would reserve going out to bid for buildable lots or lots where fair market value could be attained.
Russo said he was strongly leaning toward not selling the Churchill property at this time. Traynor said he was not in favor of selling the land. Joy said she felt it imperative that the town get some of the land back on the tax roll by selling the lots. She suggested batching them and “having an auction and trying to get rid of them.” Joy ultimately suggested sending the list to the Town Properties Committee to make sure there were no lots that could potentially be suitable for a town project. The other selectmen agreed with those next steps.
Dennehy provided the Selectmen with her Town Administrator’s report. She said that herself and the Fire Chief are working on a grant opportunity to replace the cistern at the Town Green and possibly put one or two more elsewhere in the town. She said that she was unsure if the application would be successful as it is a large grant program and extremely competitive. She noted that it may work in their favor that they are a small town with a small ask.
The open town accountant position has been advertised in various places and will remain posted through March 17. Dennehy said the open assistant treasurer/collector position was posted as well as of Monday.
Dennehy also said that the town had received correspondence from Habitat for Humanity who had previously presented to the Board during a meeting several weeks back. They were interested in looking at potential places where they could collaborate with the town on a possible project. The Selectmen expressed interest in doing a site visit with them to look at some potential lots. Russo said that while building a single-family home would be great for one family, what really interested him was the potential to offer affordable housing to elderly residents.
The Selectmen also voted unanimously on a Purple Hearts Community Proclamation. The vote would make August 7 a day to honor Purple Heart recipients in Plympton and encourage residents to do things such as fly the American flag.
As is customary for them, the Selectmen ended their meeting with their rants or raves of the last few weeks. Traynor said that his rave was for Mike Murphy, the manager of the Upland Club, for working with the Council on Aging to allow a Zumba class to be hosted in the pavilion for Plympton seniors. Joy said that her rave was for Jon Wilhelmsen, the School Committee, and the school staff who have been working so hard to get the kids back in school. Russo said his rave was for vaccines. “My rave is even more for the peace of mind that vaccines may offer in the near future; that sense of relief, that sense of being protected and maybe some sense of getting back to normalcy,” he explained.