By Beth David, Editor
The Acushnet Selectboard voted to hire Brian Noble as the new Town Administrator at its meeting on Friday, 11/4. Mr. Noble is the TA in Northfield, Mass. Board members also interviewed William Diedering, a former Selectboard member in Sandwich.
All three board members sang the praises of Mr. Diedering, but said that, in the end, they feld Mr. Noble would be a better fit for the town.
Kevin Paicos has been acting as interim TA since the summer when former TA Alan Coutinho retired. Mr. Paicos said he is available to stay on until Mr. Noble can start in a couple of months.
Board members asked both men about their experience in various areas, including finances, creating budgets, saving money, and taxing power companies.
Mr. Noble’s experience was more directly related to the exact tasks in most of the areas.
He told the board that he was successful in negotiating agreements with the Northfield Mountain hydroelectric plant. He said he saved the town money by renegotiating insurance coverage. Although the payout was the same, Mr. Noble said the town got double the coverage.
In addition to his budget experience as a town administrator, Mr. Noble said he was also on the Finance Committee for six years, and was chief budget officer for six school budgets.
He also said he was familiar with regionalization efforts and was open to exploring regionalization opportunities for Acushnet’s benefit, including grants, insurance savings, and human resources benefits.
Before voting, Selectboard member Kevin Gaspar took time to sing the praises of Mr. Paicos, saying he “brought a level of professionalism” to the job, and using words like “phenomenal,” even saying he was “shocked at the job he’s doing.”
Mr. Gaspar said it was clear that Mr. Noble had the experience that the town needed in a new TA.
Selectboard member Michael Cioper agreed, saying that the town needed someone who could “hit the ground running.”
Selectboard chairperson Garry Rawcliffe agreed, and the board voted unanimously to offer Mr. Noble the job, pending contract negotiations.
In another matter, the board heard from Mark Rasmussen, the Executive Director of the Buzzards Bay Coalition, about the proposal to use Community Preservation funds to buy a piece of property that the BBC would then own.
At the last Selectboard meeting, the board held off on voting, after concerns arose about the wisdom of using town funds to buy property that would be owned by a private organization.
The BBC owns several pieces of property, including the Sawmill in Acushnet. The BBC properties are open to the public, managed by the BBC, and the towns own the conservation restrictions on them. The BBC also owns the former LaPalme Farm in Acushnet.
The property in question is on Hamlin Street, near the herring run, provides access to the Acushnet River, and is known as the Milos/Jaros property. It is near the White’s Farm property.
In a follow-up phone interview, Mr. Rasmussen said that the BBC, the Acushnet Conservation Commission and the Community Preservation Committee had been working on the deal for a long time.
The plan calls for the BBC to own the nine-acre property and for the ConCom to own the Conservation Restriction on it. The town would put in $150,000 towards the sale, the BBC would put in $60,000 for closing costs, building demolition and site restoration.
Mr. Rasmussen said that any property bought with CPC funds must, by law, be open to the public. He said the BBC had decided some years ago to own properties and manage them as a way to take the burden off municipalities, and maximize the benefits and activities available to the public.
“Let’s face it,” said Mr. Rasmussen. “Towns in this region don’t have the time to be managing public parks to the level we do at Sawmill. That’s a mission of ours.”
The Sawmill property has become “everying we had hoped it would become,” said Mr. Rasmussen. “This expands the vision of an Acushnet River Greenway.”
“We feel that the model we created with the town is a good one,” said Mr. Rasmussen. “We seek outside funds, we own the land, the town makes sure we do what we said by having a conservation restriction on it, but they then outsource the future management of it forever.”
“We put a lot of time and effort into very careful management,” said Mr. Rasmussen.
According to its website, the BBC has protected 7,500 acres from development. In addition to the two Acushnet properties, it also owns The Bogs and Tripps Mill, both in Mattapoisett; and Horseshoe Mill in Wareham. The size of those properties is not clear on the BBC website.
Acushnet Town Meeting will have to approve the use of the CPC funds. It is on the warrant for Monday’s special TM, 11/14.
Click to download the entire 11/10/16 issue: 11-10-16-roadracelunch