Plympton Selectmen held a brief meeting Monday, May 3, as well as had a tour of the basement of Town House and the second floor space once occupied by the police, who have moved to their new headquarters next door.
They discussed problems with the 1935 building, heard about mysterious problems with the new water filtration system at the Dennett Elementary School, and showed interest in a new shared service grant, if they are eligible after a waiting period from their last one.
Town House tour
Selectmen toured the basement offices of Town House along with the old Police Station, which will be renovated at some point in the near future to create more office space for town departments.
Jon Wilhelmsen, chairman of the Dennett Elementary School Committee, led the building tour. He is a “jack-of-all-trades”, according to Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy, and is being tapped for his expertise.
The Town House was originally built as a school in 1935. The space, especially the former police station, is odd, with various width walls that will likely be knocked out to convert many smaller rooms into an open space. Selectmen are considering one open room with a conference room for now until they decide on permanent uses.
The electrical panels in the building are old and need to be updated as well. Power disruptions occur due to the legacy equipment, which includes screw-in fuse boxes.
Selectmen also discussed the ongoing water leakage in the building’s basement, which houses the building department.
The structure may have mold and asbestos, and the extent of the problem is unknown. The drop-down ceiling tiles are brown and discolored in some places, and boxes in the offices show signs of water damage.
While many problems were identified by Wilhelmsen and selectmen, definitive solutions are still being worked out.
Wilhelmsen, who is also chairman of the Plympton School Committee, reported mysterious news from the Dennett Elementary School. The Department of Environmental Protection- approved water filtration system recently installed to filter out impurities in the water, including lead, is not working, he said.
The manufacturer insists that it is working properly, but random testing of water samples is showing that it is in fact adding lead into the water, according to Wilhelmsen. No one is sure exactly why.
He said that students have never been drinking the water and that there has been no interruption to their bottled water program for students and staff. The water is not a danger to them, according to Wilhelmsen.
Selectman Chairman Christine Joy asked if there was any recourse in terms of a warranty or guaranty on the system. All options are on the table, Wilhelmsen said, and he appeared frustrated with the situation.
He also reported that the incoming kindergarten class size will increase by 10 students this fall, to 39, with the potential to go up. There will still be two teachers and two aides for the students. The school, which is small compared to surrounding schools, is preparing for a “growth spurt.”
Shared service grant
Plympton and Halifax continue to flirt with the idea of a shared service, and even though they received a grant recently to explore a shared fire department, that did not come to pass, Plympton may be eligible for a grant to explore a different avenue, after a waiting period from the last grant, said Dennehy.
Selectmen in both Halifax and Plympton have stated they are open to the idea of shared services, and a few have made it no secret that they would like to explore the idea of improving their senior service through a regionalized approach.
In Halifax, newly-elected Selectman Gordon Andrews has been a vocal proponent of regionalization, and Plympton Selectmen appeared open to the idea of exploring a shared service grant as well at their meeting. Dennehy said that “something” with seniors may be in the works if they were to get a grant.
Dennehy is investigating how soon the town can apply for a grant, if indeed they are eligible.
• The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Selectmen will be June 17, 2019, at 6 p.m. at Town House, unless otherwise posted.