By Beth David, Editor
At its meeting on 2/28, the Fairhaven Select Board approved the use of $50,000 for a feasibility study to use the Bridge Street landfill property for a public safety facility.
Former Town Administrator Mark Rees, who is consulting for special projects for the town, said the site is enough to accommodate a public safety facility and the recycling center.
The town’s current fire and police departments are in an obsolete building. Town officials have been looking for a site to relocate it for years. The main impediment, said Mr. Rees, has been finding a suitable site.
The Bridge Street property, adjacent to the animal shelter, has several advantages, he said, one being there is no need to negotiate a sale. The negative part is the landfill operation that has not been active for decades.
Mr. Rees said they used grant money from the state to conduct an analysis and it came back that the site may be a suitable site. But further study is necessary to see if any remediation of the site is necessary.
The cost of the feasibility study is $69,000. The town can use some funds from the Route 6/240 Redevelopment Target Area grant. Mr. Rees was asking for $50K in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds, for the study.
Select Board chairperson Bob Espindola expressed some doubt that the site would be large enough.
Fairhaven Planning and Economic Development Director Paul Foley told the board that the site is eight acres. The first 200 feet from Bridge Street would be used for a public safety building. The recycling center can go anywhere on the site, he said. The landfill hill is not included in the eight acres.
The recycling center is currently located at Arsene Street, near the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which needs a major upgrade and expansion in the next few years. The recycling center needs to be moved to accommodate that upgrade at the site.
The town is supposed to get between four and five million dollars in ARPA funds. Mr. Rees said he will have a presentation ready for the next meeting about ARPA funds.
“We are fortunate to have ARPA funds to utilize for this,” said Mr. Espindola.
The board voted unanimously to approve the funds.
In other business, the board voted to support a statement of interest by the Conservation Agent to Mass. Emergency Management Agency to be included in their Hazard Mitigation Plan update grant.
The board also discussed general fund capital improvement projects for FY23 to FY27.
Select Board member Stasia Powers questioned the wisdom of putting 3-5% of the free cash into stabilization funds. She said departments need more for their operating budgets.
Mr. Espindola and Acting TA Wendy Graves explained that one time money should not be used for ongoing expenses. Ms. Powers still questioned the wisdom of the extra savings. Mr. Espindola then listed several long term, expensive liabilities the town is facing, such as retirement funding, the WWTP, and the safety complex. A healthy stabilization fund means the town will get favorable borrowing rates.
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