By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
The Fairhaven Board of Public Works revisited and changed its vote on the sewer extension on Sunset Beach Boulevard that was passed at a previous meeting.
Also, at the 3/27 meeting, board members briefly discussed the new Human Resources job proposed for the town and expressed their concerns about crowds picking up again at Fort Phoenix due to the game Pokémon Go.
The BPW met with the abutters of Sunset Beach Boulevard to discuss a sewer extension that was granted to James Wing at the BPW’s meeting on 2/27. At that meeting the board approved of Mr. Wing’s request, as long as Mr. Wing ran his line on his own property and paid two betterment fees.
The issue arose because Mr. Wing’s septic system is on a separate lot. He said he has been having trouble selling the house because of the unusual arrangement. He told the board that his plan is to remove the septic tank that is on the empty lot and build a house on it. He wants to tie both lots into the new sewer line.
Mr. Wing told the board at the 2/27 meeting that he had asked his neighbors if they wanted to tie into the town sewer, but no one wanted to.
At the next BPW meeting on 3/13, Mr. Wing’s neighbor and former BPW member Steve Riley met with the board to address his concerns with the extension. Mr. Riley explained that his main concern was that the board did not require Mr. Wing to put a stub on the line for houses it passes, just in case they ever wanted to tie in.
The board agreed with Mr. Riley’s concerns, but felt that Mr. Wing and the other abutters should attend a BPW meeting to voice their opinions on the issue. The BPW notified abutters to attend on 3/27.
BPW Superintendent, Vincent Furtado addressed the residents at the meeting and explained to them that the board wanted them to voice their concerns about the sewer extension, so that the board could make a decision based on all the residents’ opinions.
Mr. Riley explained that his concerns came up after he read the article in the paper that covered the 2/27 BPW meeting. He said he noticed that the board did not say anything about Mr. Wing adding any stubs on his sewer line for other neighbors to tie in. Mr. Riley explained that when he was on the BPW any resident who was approved for a sewer extension had to add a stub for any neighbors that the sewer line passed by, just in case any of them needed to tie in iat some point in the future.
BPW Chairperson, Mike Ristuccia explained that he believes Mr. Wing has the right to install a sewer extension. Mr. Ristuccia explained that at the first meeting the board did not realize that the extension would pass by a neighbor’s house. He agreed that Mr. Wing should install a stub for the neighbor’s house that the line passes.
Mr. Wing said that he agreed with the board and would place a stub for his neighbor.
Mr. Wing showed the engineering plans for the sewer extension to the board, as well as to the abutters who attended the meeting.
Abutter Jeffrey Osuch, the former Executive Secretary for Fairhaven and a former public works superintendent, said he had concerns about how many houses the sewer line could be used for. He explained that other houses may want to tie into that line in the future if people’s septic tanks continue to let go.
Mr. Furtado explained that the engineers stated the line could be used by all 18 or so houses on the street.
Mr. Ristuccia explained that some septic tanks on Sunset Beach Road have already begun to fail, and that someone on that road is meeting with the Board of Health about their septic tank currently. He explained that the sewer extension on the street is something that all residents should consider because most likely all of the septic tanks will fail eventually.
Mr. Furtado said that if all of the neighbors wanted to be involved, the cost for installing a sewer extension for the whole street, plus all the betterment fees for each house could be divided by all the houses on the street.
“How much would it be to put a line down all of Sunset and split the cost,” Mr. Wing asked.
Mr. Ristuccia said that it would be something they would need to look into. He also said that if not all the residents on the street want to tie in to the sewer than creating a line for the whole street and splitting the cost would not be possible. Mr. Ristuccia said if not everyone wants it then they cannot do it.
“You’re going to have to do something, if the septic systems keep failing,” Mr. Osuch said.
He added that he does not disagree with the betterment fee, but paying to extend the sewer line then paying the betterment fee on top of that is a lot of money.
BPW member Brian Wotton agreed that it is very costly, but there is no way around the betterment fee. He explained that many Fairhaven residents have paid thousands of dollars for sewer extensions with betterment fees on top of that and, unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it.
He made a motion to approve the two inch main sewer line extension for Mr. Wing, going down the middle of the street, adding stubs for his two properties and for any neighbor the line passes. Mr. Wing will also have to pay two betterment fees, one for each of his properties.
The motion passed unanimously.
In another matter the board discussed the Human Resources Director position proposed by the town.
At their meeting on 3/13 the board met with Town Administrator, Mark Rees. Mr. Rees explained to the board that the town would be hiring a new HR Director to help with the hiring of new employees, job injuries, personnel policies, practices, benefit programs and training. He said that the HR Director will assist the Selectboard, and he asked the BPW if they would like the same assistance for public works.
The BPW decided to look over the information and discuss it at the next meeting. Mr. Furtado explained to the board that after looking over the information about the HR position, it seemed like the town thought that “things have fallen through the cracks” and that the BPW and Selectboard “need extra help.”
Mr. Furtado explained that if the BPW were to use the HR Director it would take some of the responsibilities off of the BPW.
BPW member Robert Hobson said he was concerned that the hiring and firing of employees would no longer be the BPW’s decision
“We won’t be able to hire and fire the people we want,” Mr. Hobson said. “And we have to pay for it.”
Mr. Ristuccia explained that he would like to know the exact duties of the employee, what the pay would be, and what percentage of the pay would come out of the BPW budget.
“I’m not for it,” Mr. Wotton said. “We handle all this fine ourselves.”
Mr. Wotton explained that was against it for the same reasons Mr. Hobson voiced about the hiring, firing, and the cost.
BPW member Jarrod Lussier said that he agreed, explaining that the job recruiting should be the BPW’s decision, but the HR Director may be helpful for labor relations duties.
“We are doing it all now with no costs,” BPW member Keith Silvia said.
Mr. Wotton made a motion to reject the help of the HR Director. The motion passed unanimously.
In another matter, Mr. Furtado informed the board about a new recycling company that the Board of Health is planning to meet with, named Waste Zero, which recycles textiles, such as clothes, shoes, bed sheets, curtains, etc. Mr. Furtado said that Waste Zero would provide every home with one of their bags and each week they would collect the textile recyclables from the curb, just like trash and other recycling.
Mr. Furtado said each week they would give two new bags for residents to continue recycling. He said it does not cost anything to join.
Although it does not yet involve the BPW, Mr. Furtado said he wanted to inform the board about the company, which will be meeting with the Board of Health soon.
In another matter Mr. Furtado also informed the board that the game Pokémon Go has started to become more active again in Fairhaven. Last summer teens, and young adults were running around Fairhaven trying to catch Pokémon virtual creatures. A popular hotspot for the game is Fort Phoenix. Last summer the BPW had multiple issues with vandalism and garbage at the Fort.
Mr. Furtado explained that with the nice weather approaching people are starting to go to the Fort to play Pokémon Go more often. He said that the trash at the Fort is starting to get bad again and that the portable restroom has been tipped over a few times. If the activity at the Fort continues to grow he will discuss the issue with the Selectboard.
“It’s good that people are there, but I was there today and there was trash everywhere,” Mr. Hobson said.
He said he thought it was great that people from all over Massachusetts are coming to Fort Phoenix because it is such a lovely place. He suggested they increase the number of trash bins and trash pickups like they did last summer.
“The Fort is lovely and I want to keep it lovely,” Mr. Furtado said.
In another matter Mr. Lussier addressed the board about his departure from the BPW.
“This is my last BPW meeting this term, but it will not be my last meeting forever,” he said.
Mr. Lussier explained that he did not run for reelection because his with classes he has been taking, his family, work, and coaching sports for his daughter, his schedule is very hectic.
He said he plans to run for a position on the BPW in the future.
“It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I hope to return real soon,” Mr. Lussier said.
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