June 2, 2008 Select Board Meeting

Monday, June 2, 2008, 6:30 p.m. Music/Language Room at the Middle School

Present:  Select Board members Gerry Weiss, Anne Awad, Alisa Brewer, Diana Stein and Stephanie O’Keeffe; Town Manager Larry Shaffer


Ms. Stein announced a benefit concert by Charlie King and Karen Brandow in support of health care reform to be held June 13th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Senior Center in Northampton, with featured speakers Mayor Clare Higgins, John Bonifaz and Ms. Stein.

Mr. Weiss announced that the privately-funded downtown flower pots had returned, thanks to Jackie and Andy Cowls of Andrew’s Greenhouse, and generous donations from Bill Elsasser and the business group “Promoting Downtown Amherst.”  Mr. Weiss said that more donations would be appreciated, and said that cash or checks made out to Andrew’s Greenhouse could be given to Mr. Weiss directly or left for him at the Select Board office. 

Ms. Brewer announced that a public hearing on the Atkins Corner Project would be held June 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Hampshire College’s Red Barn.

Amherst College – Installation of Conduits under Sellen Street  (6:34)

Mark Andrews of Amherst College explained that as part of the renovations of two dorms, an emergency power generator would be installed in one with wires connecting to the other.  Those wires, along with fiber optics, would run through plastic conduit to be installed under Sellen Street, with the Select Board’s approval of this request to install that conduit under the public way.  In discussion about tearing up the road surface in order to do this, Mr. Andrews said that the College had torn up the road for other projects, including site drainage and sewer and noted that the Town’s Department of Public Works (DPW) would be repaving the road once all the work was done.  Mr. Andrews said that Amherst College had installed a water line for the Town, connecting South Pleasant Street to South Prospect Street, and that in turn, the Town agreed to repave the road.  He said the road is currently patched, and that repaving would occur after all Amherst College’s work is completed on that road.

Mr. Shaffer said that there is typically a notification process to abutters of such projects, but that Amherst College owns all the properties on Sellen Street, so notification was not necessary.

Ms. Awad asked DPW Superintendent Guilford Mooring about the agreement to repave the road, and what the Select Board’s role is in such a decision.  Mr. Mooring said that when Amherst College assists the Town in the course of doing its own work, then the Town tries to assist the College.  He said the repaving of Sellen Street would be on the list of street repavings that would come before the Select Board, and Ms. Awad asked if that meant it would in effect be on that list with a “pre approved” status, and Mr. Mooring said that that was true.  Mr. Weiss said the Select Board is trying to watch out for the Town’s finances.  Mr. Mooring said that the DPW is doing so also, and that this sort of arrangement benefits the Town and the College.  Mr. Weiss asked if the extra work the College was doing to assist the Town is work the Town would have done if the College weren’t tearing up that street.  Mr. Mooring said that the Town has long needed that water line, and that Amherst College installed the line at a larger diameter than it needed for its own project, because the larger one assists the Town with flow capacity and water pressure.  Mr. Weiss said there are a lot of roads in town that people want paved, and that while this one would have eventually been repaved, it might not have occurred so soon.

The vote to approve Amherst College’s request to lay conduit under Sellen Street was 3 in favor, 2 opposed, with Ms. Awad and Mr. Weiss voting to oppose.

Ms. Brewer suggested that Ms. Awad and Mr. Weiss note the reason for their opposition, so that it would be included in the minutes.  Ms. Awad said her opposition was because the Select Board is the keeper of the public way and approves street paving, which she said involves a system of triaging the few streets that will be repaved each year among the many that need repaving.  She said she might have supported the motion if the Select Board had been involved in the planning discussion, and that it appeared the planning had been going on for some time without Select Board review.  Mr. Weiss concurred.

Mr. Shaffer said that in the future he would bring such proposed arrangements to the Select Board in advance.  He said that he assumes that the spirit is one of cooperation and collaboration, and that the Select Board’s concern is about the sequencing of the process.  He said that he and Mr. Mooring will be bringing a report on all road conditions and the paving sequence to the Select Board, with financing scenarios for making more paving progress.  He said that the town is continually falling behind in road maintenance by only repaving a couple of roads per year, and that a comprehensive proposal will be brought forward for consideration.

Special Liquor Licenses

The Select Board voted unanimously to approve a special liquor license for a June 8th event at Hampshire College. 

The Select Board voted unanimously to amend the date of a special liquor license approved March 10, to change the date from June 18th to June 19th for an event at Hampshire College.

Committee Appointments  (6:42)

Ms. Awad recommended the reappointment of Ted Rising to the ZBA as an associate member for a one-year term, and said that he is part of an active panel and does not wish to continue beyond that panel’s completion.  The Select Board voted unanimously to approve the reappointment.

Ms. Awad recommended the reappointment of Tom Simpson to the ZBA as a full member for a one-year term, and said that was to aid with the workload and transition over the next six months.  The Select Board voted unanimously to approve the reappointment.

Ms. Awad recommended the reappointment of Al Woodhull to the ZBA as an associate member for a one-year term, and it was noted that associate members must be reappointed annually.  The Select Board voted unanimously to approve the reappointment.

Ms. Awad recommended the reappointment of Sylvia Cuomo to the Public Art Commission for a three-year term.  The Select Board unanimously approved the reappointment. 

Procedural Motion – Article 20, Part B  (6:46)

Mr. Weiss said that the language for the donation agreement and historic preservation restriction relating to the Main Street/Hills Park parcels had been received, and that appraisals were due June 11th, so the recommendation was to postpone consideration of the article until that date.  He said that the June 11th date was favored by the Historical Commission and that replies he had received from seeking Town Meeting members’ opinions on two e-mail lists had been overwhelmingly in favor of waiting until then as well.

Ms. Brewer said she was satisfied with the recommendation to postpone but wanted to know what new information would be made available to Town Meeting members in the meantime.  Mr. Weiss said that the historical preservation donation agreement would be on the back table at Town Meeting this night (June 2.)  Mr. Tucker said the appraisal numbers will be available on the 11th, and that the full report with all the details needed for the State grant application would be ready soon thereafter.  Mr. Tucker said that members of the Historic Commission were preparing their positions for the Town Meeting discussion. 

Mr. Tucker summarized the donation agreement, explaining that it would be a contractual agreement in perpetuity on two adjacent lots: the Henry Hills mansion and the first house on Gray Street (Lot #3.)  He said that once restoration work is completed on both, it would be required that their exterior appearance and grounds remain in substantially original condition and appearance.

Ms. Awad asked if the agreement required that the lots be maintained as open space, prohibiting the Town from building on them in the future.  Mr. Tucker said that this agreement is about the abutting properties and doesn’t deal with what the Town would do with its lots, if they are acquired, but said that the grant that will be sought requires a deed restriction for the State Historic Commission to preserve the open historic landscape.  He said that there could be benches or signage with interpretive historical information, but that there would be no buildings on the proposed park space.

Mr. Weiss noted that no action was needed by the Select Board, because boards and committees don’t typically take a position on a procedural motion. 

More Committee Appointments  (6:52)

Ms. Brewer recommended approval of Mr. Shaffer’s proposed appointment of Joyce Crouch to the Registrar of Voters for a three-year term.  The Select Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment.

Ms. Awad recommended the appointment of Paul Peele to the 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee.  The Select Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment. 

Ms. Awad moved to rescind the appointment of Frank Wells to the Public Transportation and Bicycle Committee, made May 21st, because the Select Board mistakenly approved a two-year term rather than a three-year term.  The vote to rescind and the new vote to approve Mr. Wells’ appointment for a three-year term were both unanimous.

Town Manager’s Report  (7:01)

Mr. Shaffer said that members of the Public Shade Tree Commission and the Kendrick Park Committee had toured the downtown treescape and a recently-created urban park in Keene, New Hampshire on Saturday.  He thanked Keene’s City Manager, Public Works Director and Director of Parks and Recreation for spending time with the delegation from Amherst, and said that the group had gathered good ideas and information.

Approval of Minutes  (7:02)

The Select Board used this time to work its way through a backlog of past meeting minutes.  In keeping with the practices of this body, Ms. Stein and I abstained from voting on minutes from meetings at which we were not present (in this case, because they occurred before we were elected, though, in fact, both of us were present in an unofficial capacity,) though we did offer edits to those minutes.  Additionally, it is Ms. Brewer’s practice to abstain if she has not given due consideration to the minutes.

With considerable discussion and edits, the following were approved:

  The minutes of the March 3rd meeting as amended, in a vote of 2 in favor, 0 opposed, 3 abstaining.  (Weiss and Awad voting in favor, Brewer, Stein and O’Keeffe abstaining.)

  The minutes of the March  17th meeting as amended, in a vote of 2 in favor, 0 opposed, 3 abstaining.  (Weiss and Awad voting in favor, Brewer, Stein and O’Keeffe abstaining.)

  The minutes of the March 24th meeting as amended, in a vote of 3 in favor, 0 opposed, 2 abstaining.  (Weiss, Awad and Brewer voting in favor; Stein and O’Keeffe abstaining.)

  The minutes of the April 23rd meeting as amended, in a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining.  (Weiss, Awad, Stein and O’Keeffe voting in favor; Brewer abstaining.)

  The minutes of the April 28th meeting as amended, in a vote of 5 in favor, 0 opposed.

  The minutes of the April 30th meeting as amended, in a vote of 5 in favor, 0 opposed.

  The minutes of the May 5th meeting as amended, in a vote of 5 in favor, 0 opposed.

  The minutes of the May 12th meeting as amended, in a vote of 4 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.  (Ms. Awad had stepped out of the room before the vote; I’m not sure if this is an abstention or an absence.)

  The minutes of the May 14th meeting as amended, in a vote of 5 in favor, 0 opposed.

Next Meeting

There was discussion of when to meet the following week, assuming the procedural motion for Article 20, Part B were to pass.  I wanted to have a regular Select Board meeting at Town Hall on Monday night, and not meet before Wednesday’s Town Meeting session.  Everyone else preferred to not resume Town Hall meetings until after Town Meeting is over.  It was determined that we would cancel the tentatively scheduled meetings for June 4th and June 9th, and we would meet instead on June 11th in the Music Room, prior to Town Meeting.  That meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. 

The meeting adjourned at 7:43 p.m.


Eva Schiffer said:

Re minutes of May 12: When someone leaves the room and does not cast a vote, this is recorded as an absence.



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