Board of Selectmen
August 15, 2011
Selectmen’s Meeting Room, Town Hall
Arthur J. Bourque III, Chairman
Robert P. MacKendrick, Selectman
Al Merritt, Selectman
Chairman Bourque called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. He announced that the meeting was being recorded for purposes of transmission via cable television.
Interview – Constable
Ronald J. Small of Summer Street appeared before the Board after expressing an interest in becoming a constable for the Town. Mr. Small has serves in this capacity in the City of Peabody for 40 years and said there had been no problems. He has also been involved in regional organizations such as the Saugus American Legion Post, the Vittori-Rocci Post in Beverly and the Blue Knights motorcycle club.
Board members thanked him for applying and aid he is well qualified
On the motion of Selectman MacKendrick, seconded by Selectman Merritt, the Board voted to appoint Ronald Small to a term as Constable expiring on June 30, 2012.
Update on Rail-to-Trail program
Town Administrator William Gustus told the Board that he is continuing to work with the Town of Wakefield and the assigned engineer on agreeing on a scope of work for the design of the rail trail project that will run through both communities.
The upland portions of the trail are relatively easy to design, but the portion running through Reedy Meadow, where a trail at grade is not feasible. Instead of pulling up all the rails and ties and build a trail on bridges, the engineers are exploring a far less expensive alternative in which flatbed rail cars would be placed on the existing track and the trail built on top of them. This would result in the use of about 60 rail cars of 60 feet each, and a wooden deck 9.5 feet wide about six feet above grade. There would be little or no disturbance of the wetlands, reducing engineering costs. Engineers would test whether the existing rail line and rail bed can be used for this purpose. The rail cars would be government service and may be available at no cost.
A contract for the design of the trail should be executed next month, with the permitting and construction phases to follow. The design is still in the preliminary concept stage. Before any work is done on the trail, the preliminary design, which will be completed at the earliest by next spring, will be subject to a public review and comment process. Town officials are aware that the proposed trail abuts neighborhoods and that neighbors have concerns. The project is moving ahead, albeit slowly.
Edward Baud of Dale Road said he is concerned about water levels on both sides of the culvert at Beaverdam Brook. He said he understood that a plan to address the culvert capacity was stalled due to issues over liability with the MBTA. He had suggested a plan in which only the excavation site undergo environmental testing. He said he was hoping the Town would pay for that testing if the state would not. He expressed concerns that a hurricane with a power outage could cause major damage to the neighborhood, as electrical cellar pumps would be disabled. He asked whether this issue could be addressed as part of the rail trail project.
Mr. Gustus said that the issue of environmental testing as addressed with the MBTA, which did not want the Town to conduct any testing on that site when the Town was discussing addressing the culvert as a separate project. Within the 99-year lease agreement with the MBTA for the rail trail project, there are provisions to address liability issues. Liability within the first five years rests with the Town, so the Town must pay for removal of any contaminated soils during the construction phase. Special legislation addresses this point. The two towns would obtain environmental insurance for that five-year period at a cost of about $30,000 each.
Mr. Gustus said addressing the culvert as part of the rail trial project is the plan, with the likely result the widening of the culvert to allow for better flow. Mr. Baud asked if this would happen within a year’s time. Mr. Gustus said that would depend on the availability of the firm building the rail bed in exchange for the rights to the rails. He said the culvert will be cleared regularly and kept free of debris until that can addressed. Mr. Baud said he appreciated that this issue is being a made a priority.
Discussion of cemetery and recycling fees
Mr. Gustus said that as part of the ongoing review of Town-imposed fees, the Board will review fees administrated by the Department of Public Works, including cemetery and waste fees. A review of these fees is comparable and nearby communities found that the Lynnfield DPW-related fees are about average in most cases and no change is recommended.
One are in which the Town’s fees are lower than average and in which the Town is not recouping its expenses is in the fee for stickers for the recycling center in the rear of Town Hall. Wakefield and Saugus charge $25, while Lynnfield charges $10. The recommendation is to increase the fee to $25.
Selectman MacKendrick asked what the fee covers in Lynnfield and the comparison communities. Mr. Gustus said only yard waste is covered in Lynnfield, which is similar to the other communities. Selectman MacKendrick asked if fees paid in other communities covered additional services, and whether the fee would remain half-price for seniors. Mr. Gustus said that he believes the service offered in other communities is similar to that offered in Lynnfield, and he said the senior discount would remain 50 percent of the regular fee. Mr. Gustus said about 100 stickers are sold annually.
Chairman Bourque urged that the Board not increase fees for use of the recycling center, as he believes this would increase the amount of yard waste put into the regular trash collection. He opposes any measure that discourages recycling.
Selectman Merritt asked that it be determined why North Reading, Middleton and Peabody charge no fees for use of their recycling centers.
As for cemetery fees, they are significantly lower than grave-opening charges in Wakefield ($500), Saugus ($1,000) and Peabody ($750). North Reading charges only $250. Lynnfield charges $300 for current residents and the recommendation is to increase it to $350. Many communities do not allow the sale of lots to former residents. While Lynnfield still has some space in its cemeteries, sales to non-residents will make cemetery expansion necessary sooner. Rather than ban sales to former residents entirely, the recommendation is to increase the grave fee to $1,000.
Selectman Merritt asked how often former residents buy gravesites. Mr. Gustus said it is not very often.
On the motion of Selectman MacKendrick, seconded by Selectman Merritt, the Board unanimously approved the new grave fees of $350 for residents and $1,000 for non-residents. Fees for recycling stickers and perpetual care fees for cemeteries were not changed.
Approval of peddlers’ licenses
On the motion of Selectman Merritt, seconded by Selectman MacKendrick, the Board unanimously approved peddlers’ license applications submitted by Patrick DeRosa and Jerome Cappadonna.
Application for common victualler’s license
Mr. Gustus informed the Board that the applicant for a common victualler license for Loui’s Roast Beef, 372 Broadway, asked that the Board postpone its consideration of that request to its next meeting.
Approval of collective bargaining agreements
Mr. Gustus presented to the Board contracts between the Town and the Lynnfield Police Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL_CIO, State Council 93, Local 3434, School Custodians and Bus Drivers. Both agreements run from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2013.
On the motion of Selectman Merritt, seconded by Selectman MacKendrick, the Board unanimously approved the agreement between the Town of Lynnfield and the Lynnfield Police Association, and Board members signed the contract documents.
On the motion of Selectman MacKendrick, seconded by Selectman Merritt, the Board unanimously approved the agreement between the Town of Lynnfield and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL_CIO, State Council 93, Local 3434, School Custodians and Bus Drivers, and Board members signed the contract documents.
Use of Town facilities
On the motion of Selectman MacKendrick, seconded by Selectman Merritt, the Board unanimously approved the request of the Lynnfield Rotary Club for the use of the Common and the grounds in front of the Historical Center for its annual Chicken Barbecue on September 13, 2011 from 1 to 10 p.m.
On the motion of Selectman Merritt, seconded by Selectman MacKendrick, the Board unanimously approved the request of the Lynnfield Hockey Boosters for the use of the South Hall parking lot on Saturday, September 25, as well as a rain date of October 4, for a car wash fundraiser.
Approval of minutes
On the motion of Selectman Merritt, seconded by Selectman MacKendrick, the Board unanimously approved the minutes of the meetings of June 7, 2011; June 27, 2011, and July 18, 2011.
Discussion of employee and retiree health insurance
Mr. Gustus informed the Board that the Commonwealth’s Group Insurance Commission has approved the entry of the Town of Lynnfield for the provision of health insurance effective November 1, 2011. The Town is working on gathering data from employees, retirees and survivors and will hold an informational session open to all these parties on Monday, August 29 from 1-5 p.m. at the Lynnfield Middle School. The enrollment period will be from August 22 through September 9. This timetable will allow the Town to realize the cost savings anticipated when the budget was approved.
Mr. Gustus reviewed the documentation required for enrollment in the GIC insurance plans, and said letters advising all employees and retirees to put this documentation together was sent last week. This week, another package will be sent with all necessary enrollment forms, a rate sheet, and a booklet from the GIC with plan information to assist with the choice of a plan suited to the individual or family’s needs. The Town will assist employees and retirees by helping with questions about paperwork and the plans.
Mr. Gustus stressed that if employees and retirees have not completed their paperwork and turned it in by September 9, they will not be covered by health insurance as of November 1.
Selectman Merritt commented that Lynnfield will be one of the few municipalities allowed to enter the GIC prior to January 1, 2012. He also noted that in many cases, employees will be realizing a savings on their health insurance costs due to the change. Mr. Gustus said that many will realize significant costs savings. He said that this early entry into the GIC will also provide significant savings for the Town.
Selectman Merritt asked if the lower rates offered by the GIC were due to the larger pool of insured parties. Mr. Gustus said that the larger pool and the bidding process with carriers contribute to the lower rates. The plans are also structured, through their copayments and deductibles, to change behaviors by discouraging use of the emergency room for non-emergencies and other behaviors and by tiered systems in some plans that encourage the use of more cost-effective providers.
On the motion of Selectman MacKendrick, seconded by Selectman Merritt, the Board voted to adjourn at 7:57 p.m.