By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
The Fairhaven Historical Commission held a meeting on 9/7 for its regular business and to discuss issues with Bell Committee members.
HC chairperson David Despres opened the meeting with questions about the Academy Building report. The building is undergoing some exterior repairs, such as painting and reconstructing some doors.
Mr. Despres called on Al Benac to talk about the work’s progress. Mr. Benac said the painting will begin on the front of the Academy building (south side) in two weeks.
At Town Meeting, the HC had been unsuccessful in getting the funding to have the building re-shingled. At the time, HC members said they also did not have the money to paint the building.
In a follow-up email, Mr. Despres said that Mr. Benac had “generously offered to pay for the painting of the south side of the building.”
The discussion quickly moved on to the progress at Fort Phoenix. Gary Lavalette discussed the presence of Paokémon Go players at the Fort, which he said has improved in the past few weeks.
“Teams of kids have been going down there and picking up trash and cigarette butts,” Mr. Lavelette said.
Even though the Pokémon Go players have started being more cautious and cleaning up after themselves, there is still damage to the cannons that must be repaired.
“No one did it on purpose,” said Mr. Lavalette about the damage.
But with the annual fall encampment taking place soon Mr. Lavalette said he has been trying to repair the wheels to be stable for that event. He said the cannons are 90% repaired. After the encampment the plan is to replace the wheels, which will cost over $500.
Another concern Mr. Lavalette had was the use of metal detectors at the fort. He said he has noticed holes from people digging for items. He talked about filling in the holes for the encampment, as well as trying to stop people from using their metal detectors at the fort.
The HC then discussed Mr. Lavalette’s duties at Fort Phoenix.
Mr. Lavalette said the Board of Public Works is allowing him to work at Fort Phoenix with his truck from sunrise to sunset. He said he submitted his car insurance to the BPW in case any accidents happen; and it is posted in the Police Department to inform them on when Mr. Lavalette is allowed to be working at the Fort.
The main concern for rest of the Historical Commission meeting was to meet with the Bell Committee. Mr. Despres invited Doug Brady to open the discussion.
Mr. Brady read a lengthy statement discussing the events at their July 13th meeting with the Historical Commission, when the two boards met to discuss an issue that came up at town meeting with the article on the Academy Building shingling.
Mr. Brady read from his statement and explained the events of that meeting saying that HC member Wayne Oliveira and Mr. Lavalette should be ashamed of their behavior on July 13th.
Mr. Brady said that both Mr. Oliveira and Mr. Lavalette yelled throughout that meeting.
The yelling and arguments stemmed from a range of different issues, but it was largely decided that miscommunication between the HC and the Bell Committee was the main problem.
During the Town Meeting discussion about re-shingling the Academy Building, which is the Historical Commission’s project, some Bell Committee members, including Al Benac, spoke at the town meeting, but spoke for themselves, representing their precincts, not as a Bell Committee members.
HC members took issue with the Bell Committee members’ decision to speak against the re-shingling project.
Mr. Despres said that Fairhaven is a small town and people know who is and who is not on committees, which could have swayed the vote.
“The point is because you are on a board you should have come to us before the town meeting,” said Mr. Lavalette.
He said that if Bell Committee members had an issue with re-shingling the Academy Building they should have spoke to the Historical Commission about it before talking about it at the town meeting.
Mr. Brady explained again that the Bell Committee members did not speak at the town meeting as BC members.
“They spoke by name and precinct, not as the Bell Committee,” he said, and noted that he himself did not speak on the article at all.
He noted that the people who spoke were Town Meeting members, elected to represent their districts, and therefore, had a right to voice their opinions.
HC member Debra Charpentier interjected into the escalating discussion.
“Everyone loves the history of this town and we are sitting here fighting about it. We all make mistakes. We need to move on. We need to be adults and say ‘sorry,’” Ms. Charpentier said. “We have so much positive to give, let’s stop with the negative. Can’t we all just say ‘sorry?’”
Mr. Lavalette nodded and said, “I’m sorry it happened this way.”
Mr. Oliveira explained his anger at the July 13th meeting. He said he was angry about the town meeting and felt like the Bell Committee stabbed them in the back, and everyone in town knows who is on the committee.
“I have a right to express my frustration. We let you read your ten page letter expressing your frustration,” Mr. Oliveira said to Mr. Brady.
Ms. Charpentier interrupted the conversation.
“The building is going to be painted, it’s done,” she said.
“We need to move forward,” said Mr. Despres, adding that the two boards should work together.
Both groups agreed that they should keep each other informed about their projects. They also agreed to consult each other on the repair progress of the two town bells and their placement.
Mr. Brady said the Bell Committee plans on meeting next month to discuss a lot, including the bells.
The meeting is available on the town’s Cable Access YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=jfoyEY5FoSc&app=desktop