Mary Chasse, Neighb News Correspondent
At its meeting on Monday 2/13/23 the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed storm damage concerns on West Island, and updates to the recycling center. The board also discussed permits for Town Beach for the 2023 season.
The board first met with residents and Conservation Commission members Gary Lavalette and Karen Isherwood. Mr. Lavalette explained that they were meeting with the board to discuss recent damage on West Island from a storm on 12/23/22. Mr. Lavalette said he wanted to give the board updates on the damage from that storm, as well as discuss what can be done to prevent damage in future storms.
He said there was a lot of flooding on West Island and Goulart Memorial Drive, winds reached 65 MPH, and damaged sea walls. He said they were able to find some outflow pipes that they did not know existed to help with the flooding after the last storm.
Mr. Lavalette explained that during these types of storms a lot of damage is caused by debris that is left outside of the summer houses and trailers that residents only use from April to October. Rocks and seaweed can cause damage, but picnic tables, chairs, etc., can cause a lot of damage when these types of storms hit.
Mr. Lavalette said he thought owners of the summer trailers should be required to remove all their outdoor decor and furniture for the off season to help minimize storm damage. He said that he had already heard pushback from these residents who do not like the idea.
Mr. Lavalette said one big storm could destroy the causeway which is the only way onto West Island.
Ms. Isherwood explained that the future of Fairhaven needs to be discussed in regards to climate change and flooding. She said that climate change for Fairhaven has been predicted all the way to the year 2100 and the map shows what areas of Fairhaven could be flooded if nothing is done to prevent it before then.
Mr. Lavalette explained that most of this information is all Conservation Commission issues, but with roads like Goulart Memorial Drive being damaged in storms it affects the BPW as well.
BPW Chairperson Brian Wotton suggested that the issues be brought up and explained at a West Island Improvement Association meeting.
Ms. Isherwood said that the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) meeting is open to the public so the residents can learn the future of Fairhaven and the future of their properties.
In another matter the board met with Highway Department Superintendent Joshua Crabb to discuss updates on the recycling center. Mr. Crabb told the board that the town will be losing the current recycling center very soon due to sewer treatment plant upgrades. He said that there is currently no feasible spot for a new recycling center.
BPW Superintendent Vinnie Furtado said that they wanted the new recycling center at the Bridge Street location, but the town has been informed that they cannot touch that land, at least not in the near future.
Mr. Crabb said Long Road was a suggestion, but it is a wet site and environmentally sensitive. He said the new recycling center will have to be moved to the BPW yard for now. He has been cleaning the yard to get prepared for the move.
Mr. Crabb said at the current recycling center there are issues with leaves and brush not being separated. He said that having brush mixed with leaves and grass causes issues with the machine and sometimes breaks it, which can be costly.
The current policy requires residents to separate leaves and brush but it is not enforced. Mr. Crabb said they need to start enforcing it and there needs to be consequences if residents do not follow the policy. He said the gate attendant will be checking to see if the leaves and brush are separated when residents bring it in. Mr. Crabb said they may need two gate attendants.
Mr. Crabb also said he would like to make a sign reiterating the policy, and send out letters with the policy and consequences if the policy is not followed. He said the first consequence can be a written warning; and if the policy is broken again their recycling permit will be revoked.
The board agreed with Mr. Crabb’s changes, and voted unanimously to update the policy to reflect them.
The board also discussed West Island Town Beach permits for the 2023 summer season. Mr. Furtado said residents need a permit for Town Beach from around the end of June through Labor Day Weekend. He said last year they received $61,000 from passes that were sold.
Mr. Furtado said $3,000 of that money went to operating expenses, $27,000 went to salaries, and $5,000 went to the Highway Department. That left them with $35,000 to put towards making improvements to Town Beach.
Mr. Furtado said with the amount of money they made this past year he said he sees no need to change the Town Beach permit prices.
Mr. Furtado also told the board that last year they limited the non resident permits to 100, and they sold 94. He recommended keeping that the same as well.
The board voted to keep the permit prices the same as last year, which are: $40/resident; $20/resident seniors (62 years+); $150/seasonal rental property; $150/non-resident; resident walk-in/bicycle, must have season pass and name on ID must match beach pass.
In another matter Mr. Furtado asked the board about opening Town Beach to the public during heat advisory days. He said if the board approved of this it would allow people who did not pay for a sticker to come to Town Beach on days where a heat advisory was declared.
Mr. Furtado said last year the board denied it because there are other free beaches in Fairhaven that people can go to and because it would complicate things for the gate attendants.
Board member Travis Rapoza suggested that they approve of it and allow non permit holders to go to Town Beach on heat advisory days. He said the residents who are struggling and cannot afford a beach pass are they people who would be most affected by the heat advisory.
Mr. Furtado said he was worried that people will try to abuse it and try to get into the beach on other days. He said he did not want to cause issues for the gate attendants and there are free beaches available.
The board voted 3-1 to allow only beach pass holders to use the beach, with Mr. Rapoza voting against it. Only four members were present at the time of the vote because Marcus Ferro had left early.
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