The Plympton Board of Selectmen met virtually on June 7 with Christine Joy serving officially as Chair for the first time this year after being sworn in earlier in the week. The Selectmen began by voting on several appointments. First up was the appointment of Paul D’Angelo, Jr. to the Planning Board until the next town election in May of 2022. Like D’Angelo, Dave Batchelder was also unanimously appointed to the Board of Assessors until May of 2022. The Selectmen also appointed Nathaniel L. Stone as a full-time Police Officer through June 30, 2022. Russo also made the motion to appoint the town Treasurer/Collector Christine Kelly as Custodian of tax possession property to an open-ended term.
The Selectmen agreed to retain Joy’s position as the FY22 Advisory Board representative to Plymouth County.
The Selectmen then began their votes on the paid town employees that are appointed by the Board of Selectmen. All of the appointments were made through June 30, 2022. Appointments included Brian Vasa as Conservation Agent, Kathy Cannizzo as the Administrative Assistant to the Building Department, Allison Merry as the Administrative Assistant to the Board of Assessors, Ken Thompson as the Zoning Enforcement Officer, Tom Millias as the Building Inspector, William Kelly Jr. as the Assistant Building Inspector, Scott Peterson as the Alternate Wiring Inspector, Scott Varley as the Wiring Inspector, Douglas Hawthorne Jr. as the Gas & Plumbing Inspector, Briggette Martins as the Administrative Assistant to the Board of Selectmen, Colleen Thompson as Director of Elder Services, James Mustacaros as a Senior Aide to the Council on Aging, and Tara Shaw as Assistant Treasurer/Collector.
Several of the appointments pertained to the Highway Department including Rob Firlotte as the Highway Superintendent, Benjamin Sarro as the Highway Working Foreman, Colleen Morin as the Highway Department Administrative Assistant and several other Highway Laborers. Steve Sarro was named as Custodian and Transfer Station attendant as well as several other Transfer Station workers. Leanne Cashman was named as the Administrative Assistant to the Police Department. Additionally, all Police Officers hired within the last year were also appointed. Madeline Pompei was named as the Clerk to the Library and Planning Board. The Selectmen took a single vote to unanimously appoint all positions as listed by Joy.
Selectman John Traynor requested to have a discussion on the general rule of the Board stating, “Whenever possible, and as a courtesy to the public, open session BOS meetings will be recorded and posted. The Minutes of the meeting shall remain the official record of the proceedings.” Traynor said that all general open meetings are recorded and posted by Area 58 on YouTube but said he would like to discuss what he referred to as working meetings. “I think we owe it to our citizens, to our residents, to post all meetings, open meetings… while it’s not legally required, the spirit of the law is that all meetings be open… openness, transparency… I think it also allows for citizens, especially the seniors or anybody that has disability, because it’s not easy for them to come into our meetings once we’re back in physical session… and then the other issue becomes who decides it’s a working meeting,” Traynor explained. He said that ultimately, he wants to post recordings of all open meetings. Joy said, “My only concern is we have done this so few times… we have had three so I don’t think its something that we abuse. Sometimes I think it is in the best interest of employees and the town to have working meetings, particularly if we have an individual who requires coaching or if there’s situations that come up where I certainly don’t want to embarrass people but it wouldn’t meet the threshold for executive session.” She did agree that maybe they did need to better define what is a working meeting. Russo said he was in agreement with Joy. Russo said he believes the stated definition of a working meeting is sufficient; it reads as, “a posted session open to the public called to informally discuss in-depth a topic or topics for possible future action.” “I’m not going to flog this horse, we have been through this before, but I think it’s wrong,” Traynor said. They agreed not to vote on it that night.
Town Administrator Liz Dennehy took the lead on the discussion of town-owned land that had been identified for potential affordable, age-qualified housing opportunities. She said that herself, Jon Wilhelmsen, John Traynor, and the Fire Chief went out and looked at five different town owned parcels with the mindset to identify at least one to present to Habitat for Humanity for age-qualified housing. “In looking at those five parcels, the one that rose to the top is the one located off of Brook St… it’s just a hair over two acres in size; I checked today with the Assessor’s Office and the Building Department and there are no foreseeable issues with building a house on that land,” Dennehy explained. “I think it’s a win-win,” Traynor said regarding the lot. Wilhelmsen said he was hopeful that they could work with Habitat, who usually builds two-level homes, to encourage a design that would be more elderly friendly. Wilhelmsen also called it a “beautiful lot.” “I think as far as design and construction we would want some sort of seat at the table,” Dennehy agreed. Joy said that preference would be given to locals and noted that the structure would need to fit into the character of the town. Russo clarified for those present at the meeting that what they would be voting on that night would only be the identification of the lot as a potential site for a Habitat for Humanity project.
Dennehy provided the Board with a Town Administrator update. Regarding in-person meetings versus the continuation of remote meetings, Dennehy said, “Everyone is still waiting to hear about the pending legislation; the Governor did file legislation that would, among many other things, it would extend the relaxation of the open meeting law provisions and would allow for full remote meetings through September 1 but we’re still waiting to find out if that gets approved or not.” Dennehy also said that she was still actively working on some Green Community projects and trying to secure final funding for a lot of different grants that will be closing out the end of the fiscal year this month. Dennehy also said that they were waiting on reimbursements for a number of CARES Act submissions made by the town.
Traynor told the other Selectmen that an eighth grade Silver Lake teacher had assigned a project to their students, part of which was to reach out to local officials for help. He explained that he agreed to participate and received 34 emails. Each student is assigned an issue such as single use plastic bags and they are tasked with asking a local official for help in drafting legislation. Traynor said he was willing to help but noted that there were eight different projects. He asked his fellow Selectmen if they could divide them into three groups with each Selectman taking several of the projects. “It sounds like a really worthy project but if we’re going to use our time and energy on a project like that… I just want to be a little cautious on that,” Russo said. Traynor suggested having the teacher join their next meeting via Zoom. Joy also recommended having Kathy LaNatra attend.
The Selectmen then moved on to rants and raves. Traynor said that his rave was for Briggette Martins, the Boy Scouts, and three people who helped him mulch the library. Joy said that hers was for the same.
“My question coming out of this is do we want to create a budget, a decorating budget for the library and for Memorial Day… kind of this spruce up for Memorial Day,” Joy asked. “I think it’s a great idea Christine; I think it’s needed,”
Traynor agreed. Russo said his rave was for the bit of a lull between meetings saying, “I appreciate the time to recharge a little and rest a little.”