By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday, 10/7, the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed planting at Cooke Park, contractor fees, and the new water and sewer abatement policy.
The board first met with Joseph Ingoldsby asked for their permission, support, and a letter of recommendation for a cultural council grant to redo and plant areas of Cooke Park.
Mr. Ingoldsby explained that last year public works superintendent Vincent Furtado wrote him a letter of recommendation to receive the grant, and with the grant money Mr. Ingoldsby planted a lot of flowers.
He said that some trees and plants were damaged due to weed wacking and lawn mowing, so this year he would like to fix some of those areas, plant some bulbs, and plant a perimeter of plants around the basin at Cooke Park.
BPW member Robert “Hoppy” Hobson said that the reason they asked Mr. Ingoldsby appear before the board was to explain what he would be doing, because activity at Cooke Park has been a controversial topic.
BPW member Frank Coelho agreed, stating that it is up in the air whether Cooke Park is a cemetery or park and there are restrictions on certain events there. He asked the board what events are not allowed there.
Mr. Furtado said no weddings, parties, or festivals, etc. Maintaining the park and the memorials, as well as planting plants for beautification should be ok.
BPW member Cameron Durant said that both parks and cemeteries have flowers and are maintained. He said that Mr. Ingoldsby’s adding and repairing plants there is appropriate.
Historical Commission member Gary Lavalette explained that he has wanted to do something nice around the basin area at the park for a long time. He said that the basin area is there to help water stay off the roadway, so there cannot be dirt put there.
Plants around the basin would be fine, he said, but nothing can go in it.
BPW chairperson Brian Wotton agreed, stating that he was all for making Cooke Park look nice and keeping it maintained.
The board voted to allow Mr. Ingoldsby to plant at Cooke Park with the BPW’s support and a letter of recommendation from Mr. Furtado.
In another matter the board met with Sandra Balthazar of Silver Shell Beach Road about a drainage problem. Ms. Balthazar explained that water has been draining onto her property because her property is low and the street is much higher.
She told the board that she has been working with Conservation Commission on the issue because the area is in a flood zone. She said the ConCom suggested she go to the BPW and ask if curbing could be added and if the catch basin could be moved.
Mr. Furtado and Mr. Wotton agreed that they could easily get the catch basin moved but in regards to fixing curbing or adjusting the driveway apron the BPW would like to talk to the Conservation Commission before doing the work to make sure it is ok to do in the flood zone.
The board voted to move the catch basin and to have a discussion with the Conservation Commission.
In another matter Mr. Wotton asked to bring a tabled issue back to the front. A few meetings ago the board met with Allan Rego about a water and sewer abatement and the board agreed to table the issue until they had an average of Mr. Rego’s sewer bills to calculate an appropriate abatement.
Mr. Hobson explained that he did not think that they should discuss the issue without Mr. Rego present.
Mr. Wotton explained that the board told the Regos that they did not have to attend the meeting.
A motion was made to bring the topic back on the table. The vote passed with a three to two vote with Mr. Hobson and Mr. Coelho voting no towards bringing the topic to the table.
Mr. Wotton explained that two meetings ago Mr. Rego came to the board and showed evidence of no leaks in the house and the board agreed to an abatement for the average of three of Mr. Rego’s water bills.
Board member Keith Silvia asked Water Superintendent Jeff Furtado his thoughts about giving a sewer abatement to Mr. Rego,
Mr. Furtado explained that giving the residents an abatement opens a can of worms and it might cause other residents to come forward asking for abatements .
He said, in his opinion, both residents who came forward at the last few BPW meetings should not have been abated.
Mr. Wotton explained that the only reason that they abated sewer for a woman last meeting and are discussing abating Mr. Rego is because both residents came forward about abatements before the BPW established the new water and sewer abatement policy. Mr. Wotton also said that both residents had documents from plumbers stating that there were no leaks in their homes.
Mr. Coelho explained that he does not remember ever seeing the water and sewer abatement policy that they voted on.
Mr. Wotton and Mr. Furtado said that the policy was in their packet the week that the board voted on it.
Mr. Coelho said he never saw it.
Mr. Wotton asked why Mr. Coelho would vote on a policy if he said he never saw it.
Mr. Coelho explained that he thought they were voting to have Mr. Furtado write a policy. Mr. Coelho said he does not like the policy and the language of the policy is not going to help stop residents from coming forward to receive abatements.
Mr. Wotton said that this is a conversation for their executive session that would be happening at the end of that meeting.
Mr. Wotton explained that during the executive session they will be discussing the water and sewer abatement policy and they can change and redo the policy as much as the board wants.
Mr. Wotton urged the board to move on and to make a motion regarding Mr. Rego’s sewer abatement.
A board voted to abate the average of Mr. Rego’s bills which was $364, Mr. Silvia voting “no.”
The board also discussed the 2020 contractor fees. The board briefly discussed them at the last meeting and PW superintendent Vinnie Furtado explained that Fairhaven charges much less than most surrounding cities and towns.
At the last meeting Mr. Wotton gave his opinion as a contractor stating he would like to abstain from voting on this topic, but that he would like to inform the board that most contractors tie in the driveway permit fees into the bill of the resident they are working for, therefore those fees affect the resident more than the contractor.
Mr. Wotton suggested that the board increase the contractor application significantly because that money will come out of the contractor’s pocket and not the residents’.
The board took Mr. Wotton’s suggestion and made a motion to leave the driveway permit at $10, but to increase the contractor’s yearly application fee to $170.
The motion passed unanimously with Mr. Wotton abstaining.
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