Thursday, August 13, 2020

Town Council recap: special election coming in Dec, Planning Board associate selected, Purchasing process reviewed

Quick summary:

  • Councilor Eamon McCarthy Earls is leaving the Council to pursue law school in VA. A special election will be held in Dec to replace him. Additional timeline details to be shared on nomination papers, last day to register, etc.
  • Town Clerk Teresa Burr and newly promoted Deputy Clerk Nancy Danelo presented updates on the forth coming primary and November election.
  • Town Council and Planning Board had a unique opportunity to vote on a replacement for an associate position. Four candidates were whittled down from about a dozen, three were in person at the meeting and after three rounds of voting Jennifer Williams was selected.
  • John Bugbee, the Chief Procurement Officer, presented an overview of the detailed work done mostly behind the scenes for all purchasing activities.
  • The snow removal bylaw which had been deactivated in 2017 came back to the Council for a discussion to determine direction. There had been a discussion at the EDC meeting in June before this. Town Administrator Jamie Hellen will take the proposal back to work with DPW Director Brutus Cantoreggi for modification before bringing back to the Council in the future.
  • The State grant to fund the regional dispatch expansion to include Mendon and Millville was indeed granted. This will save some money for the budget for the next several years. We will need to put some of the savings aside to prepare for the full allocation return when the grant expires however.

As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting in real-time via the virtual session.

The Twitter hashtag can be found online #tc0812

  •     Real time reporting underway for #tc0812 Town Council agenda posted to ToF page
  •     Announcement from Eamon McCarthy Earls stepping down Sep 26 (?) to start law school. Heading to VA for school hence leaving the Council for this opportunity. #tc0812
  •     Town Clerk Teresa Burr making some information announcements - (1) Nancy Danelo as deputy clerk. (2) Sat Dec 5th special election for Earls' seat, additional dates for nomination papers etc to be shared #tc0812
  •     They are busy processing ballot application, expect lines at the polls to ensure appropriate protection for all. #tc0812 masks, gloves and hand sanitizers to be issued. Each voter gets a pen, pens cleaned after. Early voting starts Aug 22 at the high school
  •     If you did apply for a mail in ballot, and want to go in person, your mail in ballot will be deleted and then record your in person vote. #tc0812
  •     Citizen comments, no hands raised, only 9 on Zoom tonight. #tc0812
  •     Motion to approve minutes from 2  prior meetings, both passed via roll call 9-0 #tc0812
  •     Moving to appointments, Barbara Steele as member of Library board of directors; seconded, passed 9-0 via roll call. #tc0812 of note all and participants wearing masks tonight (were not wearing masks for last meeting, this was while speaking, some did wear off camera)
  •     Special appointment selection process for planning board associate, charter not explicit on process, hence multiple candidates in joint session with Planning Board tonight #tc0812 Cobi Frongillo first up.  Youngest candidate
  •     Next up, Beth Wierling franklin resident, over 20 years experience in planning worked for ToF as planner, now at Kraft Group for planning and large projects. #tc0812 not opposed to change but it depends upon what the change was proposed to be
  •     Next up Jennifer Williams, lives downtown, came in 5 years ago is an architect, worked on from large scale to small, master plan, so experience from a different perspective, i.e from construction side. #tc0812 well accredited professional, looking at social impact
  •     Parks and rec is a huge asset that she didn't really appreciate until she had young kids, now what else do we need, how does it fit? #tc0812
  •     Roll call of council and planning board, each person says one name can add a reason #tc0812 would like to hear from Planning Board as they would be working with the individual. All the applicants are qualified per Padula, Halligan torn between the three
  •     After round of comments on appreciation for applicants, all quality individuals. Difficult choice recognized. #tc0812 Frongillo 6, Williams 6, Wierling 2. So top 2 go into second round; 7 - 7 in second round, also a tie
  •     Williams got 3-2 both times by my count from planning board, will go to vote again: Williams 8 to 6 on third round of voting. #tc0812 request for town Council seat in Dec or planning board next year.
  •     Applications are kept in file as other openings occur. Taking 3 mins recess #tc0812
  •     Meetings back to order, planning board public hearing closed, #tc0812
  •     Procurement presentation per request from Councilor Earls, John Bugbee covering the basics.
  •     Process defined by dollar value, #tc0812 full presentation doc online at ToF page
  •     Chris Sandini, finance director adds to the presentation #tc0812 attny Mark Cerel adds also in regards to the written contract to provide legal protection for the Town (Mark remote via phone)
  •     Kelly: "I don't ever want to know how the soup is made, I just want to get it done" #tc0812 criteria built into the specs may permit leeway in not taking the low bidder, if auction process do have to take low bid as long as they meet the criteria.
  •     If the company/vendor is not on the state list, you can pick them. #tc0812 if procurement is not done properly or timely, things just slow down. Everything can back up behind it. All equipment is sold via municibid (sic)  (
  •     Next up the snow bylaw for discussion and possible reposition for approval…
  •     #tc0812 drafted a map for sidewalk clearing
  •     No legislation for action yet, open discussion to help provide direction on how to proceed. Was discussed at an EDC meeting 6/10/20 #tc0812 for reference, the meeting recording and notes are found here
  •     Link provides a good example from downtown, walking in the snow, and it shows the difference as you move from building to building, block to block, no consistency. Frankly (no pun intended) we can't afford to do it right #tc0812 h
  •     Brutus (formally DPW Director) Cantoreggi addresses some of the comments and questions on the snow issues #tc0812
  •     Streets are always a priority, the route is prioritized and published. Since some Councilors are saying we won't have a bad winter, guess what we will get? #tc0812 Attny Cerel provides historical background on snow sidewalk bylaws for New England, and liability
  •     Just went down a legal deadend, per Attny. #tc0812 used to have contractors doing plows, have had trouble recently obtaining help. Understaffed also at DPW. School snow days will help per Kelly (except for when teachers go to the building to teach remotely?)
  •     Jennifer Williams (new planning board associate) speaks on her experience of walking in the snow downtown, hasn't been able to walk on a sidewalk safely after a storm #tc0812 (see my photo link shared earlier for proof)
  •     Jamie to regroup with Brutus to see if they can make changes, no dissent on the objective, trying to do something makes sense, it will be a challenge #tc0812 will talk with Superintendent to include the schools in the conversation
  •     Capital subcommittee no meeting, budget no meeting, EDC has met, will meet again on Aug 20 to work on Economic Development plan MAPC market study #tc0812
  •     Motion to accept donation #tc0812…, passes 9-0 via roll call
  •     Motion to accept gift… passes 9-0 via roll call
  •     8 active cases yesterday, same as last week for COVID-19, formally awarded development grant for MECC which helps our budget for next several years, Mendon and Millville will join the regional dispatch #tc0812
  •     Future items, nothing at this time; Councilor comments: Chandler feels for working parents after SchCom meeting last night. Hamblen congrats on Earl's, congrats to Nancy, keep everyone safe so folks can get back to school #tc0812
  •     Pellegri looking for volunteers to work in the gift store at the historical museum for when they can open. (No timeline yet) may not be far away i.e.  after Labor day #tc0812 folks getting together for CPA, if interested let Jamie know.
  •     Bissanti thanks to chair for innovative leadership during this pandemic period. Kelly thanks and congrats for Earls, come back and be town attny when Mark gives up #tc0812 Jones congrats to Nancy, Earls to SchCom and school dept for their hard work on the plan
  •     Dellorco congrats to Nancy and Eamon, #tc0812 (clarification on Earls' end date Sep 6: I recall puting 26 with a ???) Earls saved for next to last word tonight, close to 3 years. Will miss time here. Mercer congratulations, was honored to write a letter, glad it didn't hurt
  •     Mercer echoes fellow Councilors comments, they spent many hours, made a smart decision last night, we want the kids back in school but not right now. #tc0812 important reminder of TC role is only a bottom line budget, everything else is SchCom and superintendent control
  •     "thank God it is their decision" I applaud them for putting this plan together. Motion to adjourn, passed via roll call 9-0 #tc0812   So that's all for tonight, catch you next time!

The agenda doc is linked to in the thread above and repeated here for ease of finding

Photos shared via Twitter during the meeting are found online in this album

Town Clerk, Deputy Town Clerk
Town Clerk Teresa Burr and newly promoted Deputy Clerk Nancy Danelo

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