Several appointments were made during the Plympton Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, Sept. 9. Justin Shepard, who was in attendance, was named to the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) through June 30, 2022. Shepard will fill a vacancy left after longtime CPC member Dave Chandler decided to step down. Board of Selectmen Vice-Chair and Chair of the CPC Mark Russo described Chandler as a “wonderful member and wonderful contributor.” Russo said, “We are absolutely thrilled that Justin has come aboard.” Board of Selectmen Chair Christine Joy said of the CPC, “It’s an important committee that has a lot of impact in the town.” The deadline for CPC applications is October 15.
Other appointments included Harry Weikel to the Town Center Campus Committee indefinitely, Christine Kelly as Assistant Treasurer/Collector, Inez Murphy to the Council on Aging through June 30, 2020, and Dorothy Martel as the Old Colony Service Representative for Plympton, also through 2020. Marylouise Sayles and Richard Stover were both appointed to terms on the Historic District Commission ending June 30, 2022.
The Board also approved a motion for a memorandum of agreement with Terry Walker to provide grant writing services to the town of Plympton. The inactivity of the Cultural Council due to its lack of members was also discussed. The Council, which normally has five members, is currently down to just one.
Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy shared that her application for a Green Communities grant was successful and that the town would be awarded the grant in the amount of $239,202. The goal of the grant is to aid municipalities in finding ways to reduce energy use and costs via clean energy improvements to municipal buildings and schools. The money awarded to Plympton will be used toward several projects at Dennett Elementary School as well as new thermostats at the Highway Department and energy efficient appliances at the fire station and town house.
The Board congratulated Dennehy on a job well done and Joy said, “We can do a lot of good with that kind of money.”
Russo gave an update on the two Brooks Preserve lots for sale on Prospect Road. The bid deadline of Tuesday September 3 came and went without any bids. Russo said that they were going to have to renew the one-year loan which will incur with it a $15,000 annual application fee that will be paid privately and cost the town nothing.
The Open Space Committee is hard at work devising a plan to put the lots out to bid again, most likely in the fall sometime. The price will likely be reduced and serious consideration is being given to offering to pay a buyer’s agent fee as the complicated bid process can be intimidating without an agent’s help and is likely driving buyers away. Joy confirmed with Russo that the bid process is the only way to sell the lots. Russo emphasized that there was no need to panic saying, “These are good lots and sooner or later they are absolutely going to sell.” Regarding the lots, which abut 150 acres of conservation land, Russo continued, “It’s a little bit of a niche property and with niche properties it just takes the right person to come along and we have very little doubt that the right person is going to come along.”
Selectman John Traynor discussed with the rest of the Board a request by a resident to use the old town house to host a family party. While organizations and groups are eligible to use the old town house for meetings and gatherings, the issue of having private residents use it has never been explored previously.
Traynor said, “We have this beautiful building and somehow we have to figure out how to make use of it because it’s gorgeous and the residents paid for it.” Russo, who had mixed feelings on the topic, said, “If we were going to think about going ahead, we would really have to have a lot of policy and procedures setup first.” The general consensus among the Board was that while they would like to investigate private use of the old town house further, a lot of work would have to be done prior to it being a possibility and therefore the answer to any inquires of private use in the near future would have to be a no.
Despite private use of the old town house being off the table for the time being, the Board did approve of the Plympton Girl Scouts using the building on November 30 for an event pending approval from other town officials. The Board also voted to approve a one-day liquor license for the fall antique fair to be held by the Plympton Historical Society on October 5 and October 6 from 12-4.
A resident in attendance at the meeting asked the Board and Dennehy if there were any developments in the plan to possibly regionalize the Council on Aging (COA). Dennehy said that she met with Halifax town administrator Charlie Seelig and Carver town manager Michael Milanoski to devise a plan for testing the prospect of regionalization. Both Plympton and Carver currently employ part-time directors for the Council on Aging and Halifax is currently in the process of hiring a full-time director. Once the Halifax director has been hired, the towns would like the three directors to come together to tour one another’s facilities and begin work on a joint calendar. The plan would be to combine the calendar for the three towns thereby making it easier for residents to pick and choose which events they would like to attend regardless of location. The calendar would include exact locations of the facilities, instructions on where to park, and information on transportation if available. This approach would help the towns gauge the level of interest amongst residents by seeing how many seniors attend events outside of their towns. Dennehy said that the towns agreed that taking small steps toward regionalization without making any drastic or permanent changes would be best until further research could be gathered. Russo said to Dennehy, “I salute you guys for coming up with a really nice, easy, non-threatening way to get started and see what happens.”
Old Jail cell
The discussion as to what to do with the jail cell from the former police station was continued from a previous meeting where a resident had expressed interest in taking the cell in the name of posterity. The cell is no longer viewed as historical as it appears to date back only to the early 1990’s. The police chief expressed interest in making an in-kind trade of the cell in exchange for new signage. Dennehy suggested to the Board that it would be cleaner to officially declare the jail cell as surplus town property. The Board voted to do so on Dennehy’s suggestion. The plan would be to advertise the cell and require a minimum bid equal to the cost of the signage with the stipulation that any takers would have to pick it up. Dennehy said that she would verify all necessary steps to make sure things were done properly.