By Mary Chasse, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday 2/7 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed the location of the new Pickleball Courts and BMX track. The board also discussed beach permits for this upcoming summer.
The board first met with Community Preservation Committee member Gary Lavalette about the new Pickleball courts and BMX track. Mr. Lavalette informed the board he was not there representing the CPC, he was there representing himself.
He said he was in favor of both projects, but that one issue is the cost of the projects. Mr. Lavalette said the CPC used $200,000 for the skate park. Th Pickleball courts are supposed to cost $240,000, and the BMX track is supposed to cost $150,000.
He said the other issue is using up more green space. He said the Select Board is currently voting on reactivating the [Open] Space Committee.
Mr. Lavalette said that he thinks condensing some of the activities could help, such as combining the BMX track with the skate park and combining the use of the hockey rink and the pickleball courts.
He said that the people that use the rink do not skate, they play hockey on foot, so possibly the pickleball courts could be used for hockey as well. He said combining the activities would save space and money.
Mr. Lavalette also said the rink is in tough shape, and is not used that much. He claimed that if they combine activities they could save $150,000. The CPC budget is $651,000, according to Mr. Lavalette.
BPW Superintendent Vinnie Furtado said the BPW could help save money, by helping with demolition for the projects.
BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton asked where the $650,000 budget would go if the pickleball and BMX projects weren’t there.
Mr. Lavalette said the money can be saved for other years or they could buy property.
Mr. Wotton asked what properties the CPC would buy and what would they be used for.
Mr. Lavalette said they could possibly buy waterfront property for people to use boats or canoes, etc.
Mr. Wotton said that there are plenty of waterfront properties. He said he just did not see the point in taking money from one activity to give to another.
He also noted that more than 400 residents in town are part of the pickleball group.
Mr. Lavalette agreed and said that the pickleball group is continuing to grow. He explained that if the rink and pickleball courts could also be an area for hockey, they would save a lot of money and if they combined the skate park with the BMX track they could save even more money.
Mr. Lavalette said it cuts the cost, but would still allow all the residents to get what they want.
Mr. Wotton asked Mr. Lavalette where CPC gets their money.
Mr. Lavalette said the money is formulated from taxes and the state matches [some] of the money.
Board member Marcus Ferro said that with combining all the activities his concern was with all of them being at Livesey Park. Mr. Ferro said he loved that the BMX track is at Macomber Park because that park does not get utilized. The track brings people to the park. Mr. Ferro also said having all the activities at Livesey Park could cause issues with parking, traffic, and space.
Vice-Chairperson Robert “Hoppy” Hobson agreed with Mr. Ferro, saying it was too much for one park. Mr. Hobson said it makes more sense to use other parks that are less used.
Mr. Furtado said they would be discussing the issue more at the upcoming CPC meeting and see what the committee, as well as the pickleball and BMX groups think.
In another matter the board discussed Town Beach permits for this summer. Mr. Lavalette suggested to the board that this year maybe they should put aside 150-200 beach passes for out of town beachgoers in neighboring communities like they used to do before COVID. He said opening it up to other towns will help increase revenue.
Mr. Wotton, but Mr. Hobson did not. He said he did not think it was fair that on a busy holiday weekend, when it is full to capacity, that out of towners could get into the beach over town residents.
Mr. Ferro said the beach used to be open to the rest of the SouthCoast.
Board member Steve Riley asked about doing a daily beach pass.
Mr. Furtado said they did do daily passes before COVID, but they stopped doing that because they did not want the young parking attendants to have to deal with handling money.
Mr. Furtado said before COVID they also sold season passes to non-residents for $100 for the season.
Board member Cameron Durant said he also liked the idea of selling passes to other towns. Mr. Durant suggested charging out of towners $150 for a season pass. He asked Mr. Lavalette what he thought the capacity was for cars at Town Beach.
Mr. Lavalette said they could fit about 240-260 cars. The most cars they ever had last year was around 220 cars. The lot was never at capacity.
Mr. Wotton said he would like to sell 100 out of town season passes for $150 a pass.
Mr. Hobson suggested they only sell 50 out of town passes.
Mr. Wotton noted that they sold 1400 passes last year and never hit capacity.
Mr. Ferro made a motion to sell 100 out of town season passes at $150 a pass and to keep regular fee structure the same.
The motion passed with Mr. Hobson voting “no.”
The board also discussed a letter from the Tree Warden. Mr. Furtado said he received an email from Tree Warden Don Collasius asking if the board would allow him to remove/ prune trees in the park.
Mr. Wotton said the BPW has never had to do anything with the trees in the parks until this Tree Warden. He said all previous Tree Wardens maintained the trees in parks because they are town trees, but this Tree Warden says park trees are not town trees anymore.
Mr. Wotton said he saw the Tree Warden’s nice letter in the Fairhaven Neighborhood News. He said the BPW is putting in article on the town meeting warrant to make the Tree Warden an appointed position, so that the Select Board can choose someone qualified.
“The Tree Warden thinks because he went to a three-hour class that he’s now God’s greatest gift to trees,” Mr. Wotton said. “And he doesn’t do crap…he hired Eversource to cut down trees and calls us butchers when he cut 100 trees in town without talking to anyone.”
Mr. Furtado said for as long as he has been here all the Tree Wardens have always taken care of all trees no matter where they were. Mr. Furtado said that the Massachusetts general law does say that the BPW is responsible for park trees, and the Tree Warden is responsible for trees in the public way.
Mr. Furtado said regardless, the Tree Warden is just asking for permission to take care of some park trees.
The board voted unanimously to allow the Tree Warden to prune any trees in the parks.
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