HALIFAX – Representatives from Area 58 and the Cable Advisory Board met with the Halifax Board of Selectmen Tuesday night to discuss concerns several months before the end of their current contract.
Selectman Tom Millias said that he feels there is a lack of transparency on Comcast’s end, specifically regarding the types of fees on bills. Millias said that the Area 58 fees are included under “franchise fees” and stressed that most subscribers are probably unaware that they are paying for those services. Cable access is available to everyone including non-subscribers who are not paying for it. “It took me a while to figure out that I was paying for it and I scrutinize my bills,” Millias said. Millias also said that he was concerned that there was no option to opt out of paying for the service. The representatives from Area 58 said that they had no control over the way in which Comcast bills for their services. They offered to do a PSA on their channel to make viewers aware.
There were several appointments scheduled during the Tuesday’s Selectmen meeting. The first was with Judith Rakutis and Martha Smith. Both women were appointed to the Council on Aging Board of Directors. The selectmen thanked them for volunteering.
Amber Sadlier, the Race Director for the Ragnar Road Relay met with the Board to request permission for the race to run through the town and use the elementary school as a minor exchange point. The Ragnar Road Relay is a series of 200-mile relay races run in 20 different geographic locations. The Massachusetts’ race traditionally begins in Hull and finished in Provincetown but had to be re-routed in recent years for safety reasons. The race will now end at Smuggler’s Beach in Yarmouth with a stop in Halifax. The race is run on Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9. It is anticipated that runners would begin to trickle in around 4 p.m. with peak time being 6 p.m. on Friday. Sadlier said that it wouldn’t be necessary for roads to be closed down. Due to concerns regarding heavy traffic in the area at that time in the afternoon, Halifax Police Chief Joao Chaves said he would have a police detail present. The selectmen unanimously supported Sadlier’s request. Sadlier told the Board that the race raised $400,000 for various fundraising campaigns in 2018.
Eagle Scout candidate Ryan McCarthy sought the Board’s approval for his project to create tables near the soon to be built gazebo at the HOPS Playground. McCarthy, who is a part of Boy Scout Troop 39, said that one of the tables would be handicap accessible. Asked how he would be funding the project, McCarthy said that he has several sponsors lined up as well as a GoFundMe page. Selectmen Chair Troy Garron said, “Once again, the Boy Scouts are improving upon the quality of life in Halifax.”
The final appointment of the night was with Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Land Agent Joan Pierce and Plymouth County Administrator Frank Basler. In July, Pierce met with the Board to discuss Fisheries and Wildlife buying an area of Peterson’s Swamp from Halifax. According to Pierce, the Department would maintain the land rather than develop it. Included in the plan is a small parking area to make the land more accessible.
Currently, Plymouth County and Halifax each own 50 percent of the land being referred to as Parcel A and Parcel B. Halifax needs to purchase their share of the land from Plymouth County for $75,000 before selling it to Fisheries and Wildlife for an agreed upon $150,000.
In previous meetings with Pierce, both Garron and Millias have expressed frustration with getting the short end of the stick in their previous deals with Fisheries and Wildlife. To make this deal more appealing to the selectmen and the town, Fisheries and Wildlife will also be transferring a sliver of land behind Aldana Road to Halifax. This land carries value to the town as ownership of it will be necessary to eventually pave the road.
Seelig said that they had Article 97 legislation drafted for the transaction. Seelig said that the Board could vote to request Representative Kathleen LaNatra and Senator Michael Brady to file it. Pierce said that the draft was approved by the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), the Executive Office of Administration and Finance (A & F), and Fisheries and Wildlife and would now just need the approval of the town in order to be filed.
Selectman Gordon Andrews asked, “What guarantee do we have that we get the sliver?” Pierce reminded him that Fisheries and Wildlife wants Parcel B and without the transfer of the sliver, that can’t happen. Once the Article 97 legislation goes through there is a swap for no further consideration.
Millias, who called the town’s track record with Fisheries and Wildlife “poor to lousy” said, “My issue all along has been that I have absolutely no confidence in Fisheries and Wildlife and the Commonwealth. Absolutely none and this is not just recently, this has been over twenty years.” Pierce assured him, “We are committed to this. I’m on record, I’m in the minutes, and that’s all I can tell you.”
Andrews made a motion to approve the purchase of Lot A and B from the county for $75,000 as voted by the town at special town meeting. Millias seconded the motion and the selectmen voted it through. Andrews said that he was fine with purchasing the lot but was hesitant to sign the option to sell it to the state without having the legislation filed. The Board voted to have Seelig request that it be filed.
Aside from the night’s appointments, the selectmen and Town Administrator Charlie Seelig took up a few other matters including officially signing the Host Community Agreement with Bud’s Goods and Provisions for the development of an outdoor marijuana growing facility in Halifax. Both Brian Kling and Scott Materna were named to the Building and Facility Needs Committee that also includes most department heads in the town. The committee will hold its first meeting on March 11 at 2 p.m.
The Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA) is scheduled to meet with the Board of Selectmen on March 10 about possibly having Halifax become a member. Plympton recently voted to join GATRA.