WHITMAN — The Board of Selectmen, on Tuesday, Sept. 11, discussed two requests from the district received in recent days, one pertaining to the failure of an air handle at the Conley School and another seeking additional parking at the Duval School [see related story left] to accommodate increased staff.
The Conley repair has been made on an emergency basis and the district at the next special Town Meeting will seek reimbursement. Both requests will be discussed at the next Selectmen’s meeting.
“The question at the next meeting will be if we consider that, emergency spending,” Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski said of the parking lot expansion, estimated at $28,000 plus $5,000 to move some playground equipment. He agreed the Conley repair met the criteria for an emergency.
Town Administrator Frank Lynam said he understood the need for parking but “really had a hard time identifying that as something that constitutes an emergency.”
Kowalski agreed that the board would have to discuss the issue before deciding whether it would support such an expenditure.
The board again tabled a proposed vote on the WHRSD regional agreement because Selectmen Scott Lambiase and Randy LaMattina were absent. It had been tabled for a vote of the full board once before and was tabled most recently pending more information on amendment procedures.
Selectmen received the School Committee’s Aug. 31 certification vote of the fiscal 2019 budget for $50,523,181 — an increase in the operating budget over fiscal 2018 for Whitman of $1,054,205, the amount voted at the May 2018 Town Meeting.
Dr. Melinda Tarsi of Bridgewater State University has advised Lynam that she and her class have drawn up a first draft of potential questions for the Community Assessment survey, which will be circulated to town boards and department heads for review.
“She felt that seeking additional public input at this time would not be helpful,” he said. “They want to wrap it up [to send it out].”
Kowalski asked for the review to be done in time for Tarsi to attend the Sept. 25 meeting. Lynam noted that, while the community information meeting was helpful for the process, Tarsi had only heard from about 25 people with suggested questions since.
Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green said more information regarding the failure rate, lack of choice for companies that handle the nodes involved and network costs for new street lights has been received.
For example, National Grid charges the same amount whether or not lights are dimmed. There is also a 3 percent failure rate on remote-controlled nodes.
One community using the system is still working to get the nodes, that control the lights remotely, to communicate together after six months.
“That, to me, is an issue,” Green said. “I don’t believe we’re a community that’s ready to deal with that type of an impact … I don’t know if it’s the right choice for us at this time.”
The manual control system has only a 1 percent failure rate, but she asked for consensus of the board.