Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
At their meeting on Monday 9/26, the Fairhaven Board of Public Works discussed a wide range of topics, including regulations for remote voting, lighting at Fort Phoenix, and issues at the Sewer Department.
The board first met with contractor Bob Fernandes about a driveway violation on 13 Hathaway Street. Mr. Fernandes explained to the board that he is not approved to do driveways in Fairhaven, but the customer asked him to put cement and seashells down over a muddy area near the driveway.
Mr. Fernandes said they took the mud out and put gravel with seashells at the request of the customer.
Board member Robert “Hoppy” Hobson said it sounded like the homeowner’s fault not Mr. Fernandes. Mr. Hobson suggested they send a letter to the homeowner about the issue with the seashells, so the homeowner could come and sign a waiver that the town is not at fault if a plow damages the seashell gravel.
The board agreed to contact the homeowner, but voted to fine Mr. Fernandes $100 for not being approved to install driveways in Fairhaven.
In another matter, the board met with Sewer Department Superintendent Linda Schick and department employee Bob Gomes about Mr. Gomes’s work hours.
Ms. Schick explained to the board that Mr. Gomes starts work at 7 a.m. and has most of his rounds done by 8 a.m. when all the other workers come in. Having Mr. Gomes come in an hour earlier than everyone else allows Mr. Gomes to spot any new issues, which allows Ms. Schick to change the schedules for the day accordingly.
Mr. Gomes told the board in detail exactly what he does at 7 a.m. when he goes into work.
“I don’t take a nap until 8 a.m.,” he said.
BPW Chairperson Mike Ristuccia explained that he originally thought Mr. Gomes did not need to go to work at 7 a.m., but after hearing what Mr. Gomes does during that hour, he agreed going in an hour earlier is beneficial.
“If it’s not broke, leave it alone,” said Mr. Ristuccia.
Mr. Wotton said, “I know you are professional and know exactly what you’re doing and you take it seriously.”
Mr. Wotton agreed that Mr. Gomes starting at 7 a.m. was not issue, but the fact that Mr. Gomes comes in an hour early and sees issues employees left from the day before is the real problem. The board voted to keep his hours the same.
The board also had a Sewer Department grievance to discuss, and convened in executive session for that item. They then reconvened in open session.
The board also discussed putting place some rules and regulations regarding board member Kathy Sturtevant’s ability to vote remotely.
Ms. Sturtevant spends four months in Florida during the winter and has requested permission to participate and vote by phone. State law requires that the BPW and the Selectboard both vote to allow the change. Last year, at a meeting in December the Selectboard voted down the request 2-1. Since then, Dan Freitas, who supported the measure while he was on the BPW, has been elected to the Selectboard.
The BPW voted yet again to allow Ms. Sturtevant to vote remotely. Now it must be approved by the Selectboard.
Mr. Ristuccia suggested that the BPW wait until the Selectboard officially votes to allow it before they discuss the rules and regulations of it.
Mr. Wotton explained that he thought they would present their rules and regulations to the Selectboard, so they would take that into consideration.
Mr. Hobson and Mr. Ristuccia said that the Selectboard can supersede the rules and regulations the BPW agrees on.
“We shouldn’t discuss it until the Selectmen approve it,” said Mr. Hobson. “I’m against the whole thing to start with.”
He said that if the Selectboard does not approve the remote vote, they would have a big long discussion about rules and regulations for no reason. If the Selectboad approves the remote vote, then the BPW can discuss the rules .
Mr. Wotton suggested sending a letter to the Selectboard stating that if they approve of remote voting, the BPW should be allowed to have a say in the rules and regulations.
“We should send a letter because this will not be a 10-20 minute discussion, it will be long,” said Mr. Ristuccia. “No need to discuss it if they don’t approve it.”
Mr. Wotton made a motion to send a letter to the Selectboard asking to allow the BPW to make the rules and regulations for remote voting.
The motion was approved with only Ms. Sturtevant voting against it.
The board was also concerned as to when the Selectboard would be voting on the issue.
Public Works Superintendent Vincent Furtado said he thought they were giving the Selectboard rules and regulations first, which is why the Selectboard has not voted yet. He said he would contact the Selectboard and ask them to put the remote vote on their agenda.
In another matter, Mr. Hobson brought up the issue of lighting at Fort Phoenix. He that when he goes down there at 6–7 o’clock at night, it is very dark and there are no lights.
“New Bedford has their whole dike lit up,” said Mr. Hobson, and suggested adding some street lights.
Mr. Ristuccia explained that installing lights is something that would need to be voted on by town meeting.
Mr. Wotton brought up an issue with a large tree at 9 Green Street. He said it is right near a bus stop, and the branches of the tree fall all the time. The tree is also tangled in the power lines.
Mr. Ristuccia brought up an issue with another tree near Bridge and Mill Streets, facing Route 6, which is right near a stop light. Mr. Ristuccia said the tree is very dense and the vines are all over it. The tree makes it difficult to see if cars are coming when trying to turn right.
The board agreed to contact the tree warden.
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