2021 Chester Board of Selectmen Meetings


Chester Selectmen Approve 20 Acre Conservation Property Purchase
By Penny Williams   4-16-21

Thursday evening, April 15, the Chester Board of Selectmen approved the purchase of a 20 acre parcel recommended by the Chester Conservation Commission.

Conservation Commission Chair Victor Chounard described the 20 acre parcel owned by Michael and Wendy Ennis with whom  his commission had negotiated a $49,900 purchase price.

The land is adjacent to other Town owned Conservation land, bringing the total of those lands to roughly 140 acres making it even more attractive. It is also in a virtual natural state with an existing trail and is appropriate for outdoor activities and uses. Its wetlands feed into Beaver Brook one of two watersheds on the property and provide habitat for wildlife.

After a brief discussion the board voted to approve the purchase.

The selectmen discussed with Recreation Director Corinna Reishus opening up the Town facilities. Given the likelihood the Governor plans to lift the mask mandate the next day  the discussion centered on the fields and outdoor activities.

The consensus was the fields should be re-opened with the provision that social distancing would be adhered to and when that can't be masks would be worn and numbers kept to the 100 limit. Reishus said users of the fields have to fill out specific forms agreeing to follow the conditions of use. The board agreed to the fields being open under these conditions.

The board voted unanimously to continue the wearing of masks requirement in Municipal buildings.

Selectman Steph Landau told the board the 300 Anniversary Committee is looking for help with a number of things. One is they want information regarding the history of the present municipal building when it was switched over from being the town's school. Another history they are seeking is that of the Fire Department and the history of the fire department building. Anyone who can assist the committee with this information is asked to contact them directly.

Landau added the committee will be coming before the board seeking permission for  a place to sell tickets for the October 23, Gala Dinner. In addition he said the committee is trying to get the history of the Boston Post Cane. It was noted that that information is in the Town Report.

Stevens Hall work and  costs were discussed. Selectman Steve D'Angelo wasn't happy with the recent presentation regarding work on the building and the cost.

Landau said the latest information is the painter selected by the project management indicated that painting the building after current coating of paint has been  removed down to bare wood would cost $215,000. However,  if only loose paint and edge smoothing takes place before repainting the cost would only be $115,000. 

The Charter Brothers want to do the roof first but this cost is really high and D'Angelo feels the people need to make that decision. He believes the people need to be fully informed of the costs of this project and make a decision about what they will support.

It was noted that the security doors are now in place in the municipal building. There are 5 baby calves at the Spring Hill Farm (SHF) which people can come and see, pat and watch being fed.

Selectman Chuck Myette said the grant application has been submitted to the AARP for work on the SHF building to make it ADA compliant. This would include two ADA compliant bathrooms. He indicated that in the application the various ADA compliance components for the building were listed in a prioritized manner so the grant amount could be applied to the components. He indicated they should hear what will be covered in the not too distant future and that information regarding the grant application for the barn should be available soon as well.

Town Manager Debra Doda told the board she had contacted Town Counsel as instructed regarding the Police Department OHRV Article to be purchased using Police Detail Funds.

Town Attorney said so long as the OHRV can be used for special details the Detail funds can be used. The Police indicate the OHRV would be used for special details among other things.

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Decide to Reopen Chester Cautiously
By Penny Williams   4-9-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen on Thursday night, April 8, decided to cautiously start reopening town buildings and fields.

Recreation Director Corinna Reishus said she had requests for a wedding ceremony at Wason Pond Covered Bridge and from the Chester Academy sports and Chester Baseball to allow use of the town fields.

 The board discussed the fact that Wason Pond has opened to outdoor use but were reluctant to give the ok for the requested wedding ceremony for the covered bridge or spring sport events to use the fields.

After going over the current situation Selectman Steve D'Angelo said he wanted to move very cautiously and preferred to delay any decisions until after the state releases its new guidelines, the board discussed whether it made sense to open the town fields and buildings.

In the end, the board gave permission for the town fields to be cleaned up and readied for use but delayed stating when they would actually reopen for sporting events until their next meeting.

They decided given all that is going on at Stevens Hall that it should not reopen. And as for the wedding at Wason Pond, D'Angelo said they will decide next week but that the fewer attending the ceremony even though it is out of doors the better. The wedding ceremony was approved by the Wason Pond Committee,

The board during their discussion tentatively set the reopening for Chester Academy and the Town teams to use to the town ball fields for May 1.However, the board agreed to revisit this decision next week after the new guidelines are issued by the Governor.

Several residents who are involved with sports spoke up urging the board to move more quickly with regard to allowing the use of the town fields for spring sports.

The board then discussed the Boy Scout Yard Sale and it decided that since they want to use the big tent that would be used by Chester Academy for graduation that waiting until June for Scout event makes sense.  D'Angelo continued to express the need for caution.

The board then discussed what questions were going to come up at the Monday night Budget Committee Public Hearing on the Budget and Warrant. The board expects the Budget Committee to challenge a number of articles on the Warrant. Among those they expect to be challenged are:

* The Historic Building Capital Reserve Fund  and in addition expect many questions regarding the cost and scope of the  project for Stevens Hall

* The Article requesting an OHRV - Chief Aaron Berube noted it can be used as a detail vehicle so use of the Detail Fund money is valid - the selectmen wanted that checked again by the Town Attorney

* There will be questions regarding then CIP for Highway Improvement

* Acquisition of the Stone Property  -  it was noted that Budget Committee is against this proposed acquisition

The board discussed parking at the Spring Hill Farm (SHF) property. Selectman Chuck Myette wanted to put signs up indicating where parking is allowed so cars don't mess the hay field up by parking there.

D'Angelo favored putting up some kind of fencing so as not to discourage people from using the SHF property. Myette indicated it didn't matter what they did so long as the hay field is protected since there will be haying planned as well as the use of the High Tunnel.

 


Chester Selectmen Ask Town Manager to Reorganize and Number Warrant Articles
By Penny Williams   4-2-21

There was a discussion among the board members  Thursday night, April 1, regarding which warrant article should come first after the zoning amendments, the budget or the CIP articles. There was also discussion about the 10 percent rule regarding which should come first, the budget or the CIP articles.

In the end the Selectmen asked Town Manager Debra Doda to reorganize the Warrant removing the letter designation for articles and replacing these with numbers and rearranging the articles with respect to financial importance. It was noted that changes to the reorganization can be made down the road at or before the Deliberative Session.

The board then discussed the concerns raised by an engineer reviewing the stairs leading down to the basement at Stevens Hall. Selectman Steph Landau said he had not been at the meeting but had learned that concerns about repairing and improving them had been raised because of constructural concerns.

Landau made the point that while there might well be a need for work on the stairs leading down to the basement, the basement got very little use with almost nogthing being stored down there. As such, he felt this was not something that needed to be addressed immediately, but could be put off and possibly grants sought for this particular aspect of the renovation. His point was the roof and getting the building painted, at least three sides, before the 300 Anniversary were the primary needs the $400,000 had been put into the Capital Reserve Fund to accomplish first.

There was a discussion regarding whether repairing the stairs was on the CIP and Doda confirmed that it is. Selectman Chuck Myette said it has waiting for a bid next to it and he wondered if the review that took place the other day would produce a bid. Landau said he didn't know but would check on it but thought the Charter Brothers probably had it on their list to get a bid.

The board noted that access to the second floor is also awaiting a specific bid but is on the CIP. Both these items are not slated for this year.

Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin asked the board if they were going to continue the abatement of interest on the 2020 property tax levy which they approved under the Governor’s emergency order. The 2020 levy will be liened April 15th. The notices of intent to lien were sent out the first week of March. The abatement of interest on the 2020 property tax levy will stay in effect until April 15th. The remaining outstanding 2020 property taxes will then be liened along with the interest that has accrued throughout 2020. The board discussed this for awhile and in the end a motion was approved to discontinue their previous tax interest abatement on the 2020 tax levy.

The board discussed the suggestion for a gate on the Chester Turnpike made by the Manchester Water Works as a way to reduce the trash and damages to property in that area by off road vehicles and people. The board discussed this and decided before they approved the gate they wanted to see how the homeowners at that end of the Chester Turnpike area felt about it. The board asked Doda to send a letter to those homeowners and if they did not respond by 30 days they would move forward with the gate.

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Send Warrant to Budget Committee
By Penny Williams  3-26-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen on Thursday evening, March 25, discussed at length exactly what amount they wanted to have in each of the Warrant Articles and pushed by Town Administrator Debra Doda to complete the Warrant so it could be sent on to the Budget Committee.

When all was finally said and done the board approved adjustments to several articles with the main purpose of ending up with enough money for the work on Stevens Hall to get started and not be a terrible tax burden to Chester tax payers.

Article H - CIP Funding - This article was adjusted to read raise and appropriate $650,000 for the Town's Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund.

Article I - CIP Projects - This article calls for raising and appropriating $183,903 for specific CIP projects and to withdraw $183,903 from the Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund. The Board wishes to add a new  line for $250,000 for Stevens Hall, which is being checked for legality by Town Counsel.

Article J - Highway CIP Funding - This article asks that $750,000 be raised and added to the Highway Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund. The board lowered the original $1,000,000 amount to $750,000. The total amount to be raised will be offset  by $144,597, from the anticipated Highway Block Grant.

Article K - Highway CIP Projects - This article asks taxpayers to raise $750,000 for roadwork in Chester by withdrawing $750,000 from the Highway Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund.

Article T - Historic Building Capital Reserve Fund - The amount in this article was raised to $400,000 with the funds to come from the Unassigned Fund Balance.

Article Z - Stone Property - This article was discussed at length. The property owner wishes to donate the 28.2 acre property, located at 78 Raymond Road to the town. The caveat is the appraisal of the property must favor the donor from a tax standpoint and this can't be figured out until just prior to Town Meeting, which has been moved to May. The terms of the donation should it be made, to be negotiated by the Board of Selectmen.

Selectman Steph Landau and several other Selectmen favored this because it would mean the town might be extremely well positioned for future needs. This property is in the center of town; next to the fire department and the school; and,  it would provide an emergency exit from the school if the town decided that was needed. The discussion was that the building located on the property might have a use now but if not it might have a use  later as with the land itself.

It was noted that should the owner decide to just walk away from the property the town would wind up owning it and be responsible for it and the costs associated with this could be substantial. It was decided that the board would handle the  negotiations once the appraisal took place at the specified time and the donation was favorable.
 
Police Chief Aaron Berube notified the board that there have been a series of automobile break ins in the area of North Pond Road, Orcutt,  Fiddlehead,  and he Trillium. It was an FYI to residents to not leave valuables in their cars and to lock them.

The board was in favor of allowing a Re-enactment during the 300 Anniversary |Proclamation Day. The Proclamation will happen at Stevens Hall and then people could walk to the area behind the Municipal Building to view the Re-enactment. It would display things related to the era such as goods made by the Re-enactors,  The board was ok with using that location for the Re-enactment event.

The board discussed the Stevens Hall project and Landau said he thought that after what the historic building roofer who had come looked at the roof  had said about the roof and the information received about what the Town could do regarding repairs and renovations from the Preservation Society that wouldn't negatively impact the fact the building is on the Historic Register, he felt $400,000 this year would get a good deal of the work done.

He did add that the total cost will likely be somewhere between $900,000 to $1,100,000. He also indicated that over the next year or so the town would very likely be able to obtain grants to help with the restoration and repair of the building, further reducing the cost to the town.

The board felt it had achieved its goal of adjusting the Warrant Articles to provide up to around $650,000 in funding for the work they wish to start on Stevens Hall. Given it will take more than a year, grants may be obtained that would lower the overall cost.

 


Chester Resident Robert St. Amand to Clean up Town Pound
By Penny Williams   3-20-21

Resident Robert St. Amand has stepped forward to clean up the Chester Town Pound, and he told Selectmen on Thursday night, March 18, that he and some friends plan to do it at no cost to the town.

 Saying he has a passion for old town pounds and after looking at several neighboring town pounds he felt it important to clean up and resurrect the Chester pound. He said his motivation is to bring greater awareness of and to the Chester pound. His plan is to clear up about 6-feet to the edges of the pound's exterior and clean up the interior. He said they will not touch the stones of the pound walls.

St. Amand said he would like to erect a sign, perhaps something similar to what other towns have. The pound is historical so the board suggested he check with the NH Historical Preservation Society to see what would be needed to have a state historical sign put there.

The board was pleased by St. Amand's desire to clean up and renew the Chester Town Pound and approved his efforts and thanked him for wanting to get this done. It was noted that this would be another step ahead for the 300 Anniversary.

Maria Veale asked the board whether they would or could approve the Wason Pond Pounder event going forward for this September 18.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo suggested planning the event for next spring might be a better idea, noting it might be able to be part of the 300 Anniversary celebration. Veale indicated that this was to be the final Wason Pond Pounder event and they really wanted to do it this fall if possible.

The board wasn't against the Pounder Committee preparing for the fall if they kept in mind it might have to be postponed again depending on the pandemic situation. The board reminded them that all guidelines would need to be followed.

 It was noted that the May 1, Guidance should provide a better handle on whether the September date might work and the board noted they have not been able to decide yet on whether the Town Fair can be held this year.

Beth Sautter, Spring Hill Farm Advisory Board Chair reviewed Spring Hill Farm (SHF) activities for the board .

She said Ryan Neal has been working his Maple Sugaring operation and the SHF Advisory Committee has approved allowing Buddy Menard and Alex Bartels to use the farm fields for cattle.

The men are willing to take over more of the haying production in return for being able to graze  cows at the farm. They hope to use the fields around the barn primarily since there is water and electricity at the barn, as well as a couple of the outbuildings.

Their main intent is to create a sharing event, creating a long-term relationship with the SHF, and offering their services and time in return for grazing. Menard said they hope to hold clinics and events to bring people to the farm to see and interact with the animals.

The board after a brief discussion voted to approve the Memorandum of Agreement between the Trust and  Menard and Bartels regarding use of the Spring Hill Farm fields for cattle.

Kristina Snyder asked the board to approve her developing a Milkweed Garden at SHF that would attract the Monarch Butterflies and bees.

Snyder explained her ideas for developing the pollinator garden and added that the SHF Advisory Board approves of her plan. She asked the board to approve her using at least a quarter acre or more to develop this garden, noting that the butterflies are almost an endangered species so this makes this development even more important. The board  approved her request.
 
Sautter added that there are two grants the SHF Trust is dealing with  one to handle the work needing to be done to the barn foundation and the other to work on making the SHF farmhouse ADA compliant so it can be used.

Gary Goudreau and Selectman Steph Landau went over the latest information regarding the repairs and renovations to Stevens Hall.

A roofing contractor who specializes in historical building roofs and is a slate expert examined the roof and believes it can be repaired without needing to be entirely replaced, which was good news.

There were other observations and information discussed regarding insulation and repairs. However, Goudreau needs to get clarification from the Historical Society as to exactly what they can and can't do if the Town plans to keep the building on the Historical Register.

The board was glad to get the update and asked that Goudreau and Landau check and see if someone from the Historical Society could come to the meeting to talk to the board about what can and what can't be done to the building.

 


Chester Selectmen Approved Window in Building Inspector Office
By Penny Williams   3-12-21

On Thursday night, March 11, the Chester Board of Selectmen approved having a window put into the office of the Building Inspector addressing security concerns.

Building Inspector Myrick Bunker suggested having a window put into his office similar to that of the Town Clerk/Tax Collector for people to transact business with him, thus addressing some of the security concerns of having too many people in the building and offices.

The board discussed it and were in favor of it but wanted Town Manager Debra Doda to get bids for the job from  local contractors. It was felt the current bid, from an out-of-town contractor, was too high and the board prefers to use local people when possible.

Doda mentioned a grant that might be available to help fund this project and that is 6 months down the road so there is time to come up with more bids and a design for the window. Doda said she would work on getting the bids.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo asked Planning Director Andrew Hadik to come before the board and explain the five proposed Zoning Amendments, which he did.

The Zoning Amendments include:

* Voting Article 2 - Zoning Amendment 1 - Article 2 - Internal Lot definition

* Voting Article 3 - Zoning Amendment 2 - Articles 2 & 5.3.3 - Bed & Breakfasts

* Voting Article 4 - Zoning Amendment 3 - Article 4.14.3.1 - Fences

* Voting Article 5 - Zoning Amendment 5 - Article 6 - Open Space Subdivision

* Voting Article 6 - Zoning Amendment 6 - Article 9.4 - ADU Fire Sprinklers

Selectman Steph Landau, as Liaison to the 300 Anniversary Committee, told the board about some of the things the 300 is planning and asked if the board had any issues with any of the plans, which they did not.

Among the plans are a car show to be held this fall on August 7, to be followed by a larger event in May of 2022 as part of the Anniversary year.  The plan is to hold the event at the school parking lot if the school approves it.

Another event is the plan to put up banners at Stevens Hall, the Meetinghouse and on the Common. There will be a parade and speeches from invited dignitaries and possibly firing the cannon all on May 7, 2022. He noted there has been some discussion about having an encampment for the event as well.

Landau said the 300 Committee asked if the selectmen would write the letters of invitation for the May 7, 2022 event to the local, state and federal dignitaries and the board said that would be appropriate and agreed to do it.

 Finally a time capsule is being developed to be buried at the Stevens Hall front lawn with a rock and plaque designating it and the time to open it. He thought they were planning the opening for the 400 Anniversary.

Landau asked if there board had any concerns with liability issues associated with the planned 300 Anniversary events. Selectman Chuck Myette suggested Landau get a complete list of planned events and then go to Primex and check on the liability issue.

Fire Department Lt. Phil Gladu introduced three new fire department volunteer call members, Lauren and Kevin Russell and Rob Versalone. He said they are getting their gear and beginning training but none are certified as yet. Gladu said there is a fourth possible new volunteer department member in the offing as paperwork for the position had been pick-up but not returned as yet.

D'Angelo suggested a different approach to the Selectmen's Town Report. He suggested gathering pictures of staff and employees who have stepped up to get the town through this difficult year with a brief description of each individual's contribution.

He also suggested a picture of the five selectmen to be taken in the Stevens Hall auditorium would be a good way to go. The board approved of his suggestion and D'Angelo will work with Doda on developing the report. Myette offered to help if needed. D'Angelo also wanted the 300 Anniversary planned events in the report so people would learn what is being planned.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve the Town Administrator to Handle Impact Fees $5,000 or Less
By Penny Williams  3-8-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen on Thursday evening, March 4, decided to authorize Town Manager Debra Doda to handle future Impact Fee decisions that are $5,000 or less.

This decision followed several sessions in which Selectman Steve D'Angelo complained about the current process of handling impact fees, which he characterized as a waste of the board's time.

The board had received an Impact Fee release recommendation from the Planning Board to cover a Police Department purchase. D'Angelo was also upset by the fact that the Police Department had already purchased the equipment and thus was actually applying for the Impact Fees for coverage 'after the fact.'

The board discussed the current process and decided in the future that Doda should be the one to handle the authorization for the approval of requests for the use of impact fees that are $5,000 or less. D'Angelo was still not satisfied and voted against it because he said that amount  was too high.

Selectman Chuck Myette reviewed for the board members, Joe Hagan and Jeremy Owens, the meeting he and D'Angelo and Selectman Steph Landau had had with the Charter Brothers and Architect Gary Goudreau and Doda during the week.

He indicated the Charter Brothers and the group did a thorough inspection of the building inside from basement to attic and actually found only one place where there was an obvious leak and it was near a broken outside gutter.

He told the board and listeners that the Charter Brothers agreed to have a roofing contractor come and completely review the roof and determine whether it needs to be redone or whether it can be repaired. They will also get information on where slate would be procured if needed and the associated costs.

The decision was made to pay the Charter Brothers the $6,500 and a letter of intent for the first phase which is for the design service.  They agreed they would have the hard numbers the board requested in the next couple of weeks. Once the board has those numbers and a timeframe for the work needed, decisions on how to raise the funds for the Stevens Hall project can be determined as well as what can be done to make it attractive for the 300 Anniversary. 

The board again talked about the need to make better use of the building going forward, noting that it is a remarkable building. It was pointed out that the roof repair decisions may be subject to the requirements of the building being on the National Register of Historical Buildings. The board voted unanimously to provide the Charter Brothers with the letter of intent and the $6,500 payment.

The board discussed the Article which is asking voters to raise and appropriate $250,000 for Historical Building Capital Reserve Fund. Landau suggested increasing the amount to $300,000 noting that after five years there would be enough available  to pay for what the board anticipates will be the cost of the Stevens Hall restoration and repair. He called this 'proper planning.'

Landau also suggested there are grants available through the NH Preservation Alliance for small restaurants that are housed in historic buildings and Chester has two which might be able to use the grant money. He referenced the General Store and the Ye Old Post Restaurant.

He also suggested someone might want to look into the barn grants available as one might possibly be used for the old barn at Wason Park. Right now he told the board there is an application for a $10,000 matching grant for work on Spring Hill Farm with the NH Preservation Alliance.

D'Angelo said Planning Director Andrew Hadik plans to address the board in the next couple of weeks regarding the proposed Zoning Amendments. He said he  didn't know what they were all about but felt the board should understand them and Hadik's explanation would inform listeners as well.

The board put off working on the Warrant and the CIP Project article for another couple of weeks.

 


Chester Selectmen Looking for Hard Numbers for Stevens Hall Project
By Penny Williams    2-26-21

On Thursday evening, February 25, the Chester Board of Selectmen agreed that they need more definite numbers regarding the Stevens Hall repair and restoration project.

The board was unhappy with the projected costs associated with the Charter Brothers contractor bid for the Stevens Hall project. Board members said the costs are increasing and they don't really have any specific hard numbers on the costs associated with the various aspects of the proposed project.

The board is concerned that they don't have a specific time line either. The motivation behind starting this project was to ensure the building was ready for the 300 Anniversary but now that appears out of the question. For one thing the apparent cost could be in the million dollar range and the time needed to complete the proposed work would not have it ready for the 300 Anniversary.

It was noted that grants that might be applied for to help deal with the cost of the project haven't even been heard from as yet and the escalating cost estimates are disappointing.

The board decided to have Town Administrator Debra Doda contact Charter Brothers, the preferred contractor, and set up a day time meeting the coming week between the contractor and some of the board members - Steve D'Angelo, Steph Landau , and Chuck Myette.

The selectmen would seek to get the hard numbers from the contractor associated with the roof repair, wood repair, painting and so forth and bring those numbers and time line back to the full board at their March 4, meeting.

The board also discussed scraping the full repair and restoration project before the 300 Anniversary and consider  putting "lipstick on the pig," by painting just the front possibly or doing something modest to have its appearance appropriate for the 300 Anniversary.

It was also noted that choosing to replace the roof slates with shingles might not work since the building is on the National Register of Historical Buildings.

Selectman Joe Hagan called for the board to sit down and reassess a long term plan for how the building can be used in terms of Town use. He pointed out that if voters, are going to be asked to pay such large amounts of money for the building repair and renovation they will need to be convinced it is warranted.  Being able to show how the town can use it would be of value.

The board discussed that several town departments could be moved to Stevens Hall but noted that Maintenance Director Paul Cavanaugh had suggested this would be extremely costly. The board thought they would need to have a contractor look at this possibility and determine whether it is feasible and what the cost would be.

Doda informed the board there are some funds left from last year that were not spent for designated CIP projects and if applied to the current amounts the amount raised from tax payers would be less.

The board discussed making this change or reducing the amount requested for the Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve be reduced from $400,000 to $350,000 or just put the $50,000 left unspent from CIP projects last year in the CIP. The board decided they had time to think about these options and would revisit it in March.

The board approved purchasing a FM transmitter. Doda and Corinna Reishus, Recreation Director, researched this and they found one comparable to what was borrowed last year from Atlas Fireworks for the Town Meeting held outside. The transmitter would cost under $200.

The one they decided to bring to the board for their decision costs $199.99  and Doda pointed out it would have many uses in addition to the Town Meeting held outside. The FM transmitter would cover the entire parking lot (Chester Academy parking lot). The board authorized Reishus to immediately purchase the transmitter.

The board approved the release of $132.99 impact fees for a Police Department winter coat. Selectman Steve D'Angelo questioned how a coat could be considered Personal Protective Equipment and voted against it but the rest of the board voted to approve the request.

There was a discussion about whether the young man who has been developing maple syrup sales using Spring Hill Farm (SHF) trees, Ryan Neal, who is under an agreement with the town, should have that agreement renegotiated with more money going to SHF.

Myette noted Neal has asked for an agreement to use Wason Pond trees and that agreement is being negotiated. D'Angelo asked if the Wason Pond Committee was on board and Myette said they were.

It was decided to move forward with renegotiating the agreements with Neal whose maple syrup sales are going well at local super markets.

Myette also said that an application for a grant has been submitted to AARP that would be used to bring SHF building into ADA compliance if it is approved.

He also noted that the boy scout project for walking bridge at Wason Pond is getting the assistance of the Conservation Commission. It will be 4-feet wide and about 150-feet long. D'Angelo raised the concern that horses would use it and Myette said they will put up signage prohibiting this but the bridge/walkway would probably be sturdy enough for horses. However, he noted that horses, like emergency vehicles, will be able to pass alongside the bridge/walkway.

 

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Approve Use of Jack Road
By Penny Williams    2-12-21

Patrick and Daniela Connelly, Field to Fork Farm owners, spoke with the Chester   Selectmen at the board's Thursday night, February 11, meeting requesting the board's approval of their use of a small portion of Jack Road for people to reach the farm's parking lot.

The Planning Board required the Connelly's to get written approval from the Board of Selectmen to use Jack Road, a Class 6 road, for people coming to Agritourism events at the farm.

The board discussed this request and Selectman Steph Landau suggested that so long as the Connelly's were willing to put in a post and a red sign with the information that the roadway is a Class VI Road and is used at the users risk, he saw no reason to not to approve the request. He added that the homeowner across the road from the Connelly's was interested in using that small portion of Jack Road and supported the Connelly's request.

It was suggested that to limit traffic, in addition to the signs suggested by Landau a gate might be put across the road. The desire to reduce use was to prevent traffic from going through the Jenkins Farm subdivision

The board approved the Connelly's request and asked that they place the requested Class VI - Use at Your Own Risk signs at both ends of Jack Road and consider possibly adding a gate.

Landau suggested that having an up-to-date list of all private and Class VI roads in Chester would be a good thing and to see that where necessary specific signage be put there at town expense. Town Manager Debra Doda said there is such a list and they could look at doing this.

The board authorized the use of Statutory traditional May dates rather than the traditional March dates. The board authorized Doda to update the calendar with these dates adding the May 11 date for Town Elections and May 15 for the Town Meeting.

Doda said that the Safety Manual had been updated with the addition of an employee safety violation that was corrected be maintained in their personnel record for 6 months on the advice of Town Counsel.

The board discussed this and Selectman Steve D'Angelo suggested the time the record be held be extended for a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 18 months. The board approved this change and then approved the Safety Manual pursuant to Doda making that edit.

Household Hazardous Waste Day is slated for October 9 which is also the date for the Spring Hill Farm Fall Festival. The board discussed this briefly expressing the feeling the fact the Household Hazardous Waste Day would be bringing in people from 5 other towns was probably a good thing for the Spring Hill Farm Fall Festival. Doda said she had letters of commitment from the other five towns and if the board approved she would apply for the grant to offset the cost of the event.

Landau suggested that the town buy FM transmitter equipment such as they borrowed from the Atlas Fireworks last year for the outdoor Town Meeting, spending not to exceed $500.  A speaker system will also have to be purchased and Doda is working with the resident of Chester who loaned the town a system last year and Cable Director Robert Grimm. The board asked Doda to look into this and bring a proposal to the board.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Maintenance Department Truck Purchase
By Penny Williams  2-5-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday evening, February 4, and arrived at a resolution to the often debated issue of providing the Maintenance Department with a pick-up truck that it needs.

The Town Administrator Debra Doda told the board there were three bids for trucks for the Maintenance Department, all the same size and with the same equipment. The lowest bid was the one obtained by Maintenance Supervisor Paul Cavanaugh in the amount of $27,306. After a brief discussion the board voted to accept the lowest bid and authorized Cavanaugh to go ahead and purchase the truck.

The board discussed several questions raised by the Budget Committee, which had approved the Selectmen's proposed Operating Budget.

One area discussed was the proposed $25,000 matching contribution to the Chester Congregational Church tower that houses the Town owned clock.  At one point two articles for contributions had been proposed and one question was what happened to the second article. It had been deleted.

Then it was suggested the amount of the present article be increased to a $50,000 match contribution. However, several raised the concern that this shouldn't be considered until after the actual cost of taking care of Stevens Hall is known. It was decided there was no need to make a decision on the article right then since the Deliberative and Election dates had been moved to May.

Then there was a discussion among the budget committee members on zoom and the selectmen over the amount the selectmen had decided to put into Article H, CIP Funding and Article J, Highway CIP Funding.

Budget Committee member Michael Weider said he thought that it should have been an even split  putting $700,000  into each article. The Selectmen had decided to put $400.000 into Article H, the Town's Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund and $1,000,000 into Article J, the Highway  Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund. His argument was based on the need for the town to use the CIP properly by funding it so that when the town reaches the need set forth in the CIP Table 10 for work or equipment replacement the money would be there.

After a discussion the board decided since the Town Meeting and Elections have been pushed out two months  the Public Hearing can also be moved nearer to May. As such it made sense to table this discussion and have Doda work on updating the calendar for the future meetings and bring it to the next meeting (Thursday, February 11) for further discussion.

The board approved the Planning Board's recommendation to use impact fees in the amount of $195.93 for Police Department Personal Protection Equipment.

The board accepted the changes made to the Safety Manual and approved it.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo asked if Fire Chief Greg Bolduc thought this was the time to put the article that was defeated last year asking for adding two full time  firefighters back into this year's Warrant. Bolduc said that the department  is presently getting people out the door to calls adequately and he doesn't see the need for that article at this time.

The board approved expanding the carryover from 2.5 months to 12 months for the Flexible Spending Account and the Dependents Care Act.

 


Chester Selectmen Move Dates of Election and Deliberative to May
By Penny Williams   1-30-21

On  Thursday evening, January 28, the Chester Moderator Michael Scott recommended moving the Chester Election and Deliberative dates to May and the Board of Selectmen approved that recommendation.

The Chester Election will now take place the second Tuesday in May, May11, and the Deliberative will take place the following Saturday, May 15. Scott planned to announce the move on Monday, February 1.

There was a discussion about whether the sign up for candidates, which ended Friday, January 29, at 5 p.m., would be the exclusive opportunity for candidates to sign up. Scott and Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin both indicated they expect further information from the State regarding that and other election and deliberative related issues. However, for the moment it would appear this candidate sign up period is it. But both agreed if the State recommends or designates a second sign up period be held the town would certainly do that. With the moved up Election and Deliberative, those in office will continue.

The board discussed the upcoming February 8, Budget Committee Budget Hearing and based on the posting of that meeting, it appears it is a Budget Committee Hearing so the board has nothing to do or say about the date.

The board discussed the use of impact fees for the purchase of items on the CIP Table Ten. Selectman Steve D'Angelo said doing this will save townspeople money. After an in-depth discussion the selectmen agreed to ask Town Manager Debra Doda to remove the three General Government Items on the CIP Projects that total $25,000 and these will be purchased now with impact fee money.

The board discussed a suggestion made by Michael Weider at the Budget Committee meeting to move $200,000 from Article r. Fire Engine Capital Reserve Fund, reducing that article amount to $200,000 and moving the $200,000 to Article, CIP Funding for the Town's Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund, increasing the amount in this article from $400,000 to $600,000. However, they tabled any decision so those articles remain as presented but the discussion will likely continue at their next meeting Thursday, February 4.

The board did move the Carkin Road Article forward after asking Doda to remove the recommendation lines.

 


Chester  Selectmen Still Undecided on Town Deliberative Date
By Penny Williams   1-22-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, January 21, and with Moderator Michael Scott discussed the decision to set the date for the Deliberative session with them.

Scott told the board he was not sure when to make the decision and announce it regarding the date for the Deliberative session. He did indicate he thought they should be creative about it and he favored holding it outside but was concerned that if he made the decision that night some would criticize him and if he waited to make the decision later he would be criticized.

Scott stated that the Deliberative can't be held inside because social distancing can't be achieved so he agonized over when to postpone the Deliberative session to. He raised the possibility of changing the Chester voting date but Selectman Steph Landau objected to that idea saying he wanted to keep the date of March 9. The Town Meeting date at this point is tentatively slated for  March 13 but the discussion revolved around postponing that date to May 15 or possibly May 29 due to issues and circumstances relating to the COVID-19 pandemic..

Scott indicated he wanted to look into whether it is within the law to have that much time between the voting session and the Deliberative March 9 to May 15 or May 29. He raised the concern of how to swear people in if these dates were selected. He told the board he would have a definite answer for them at their next meeting, January 28, and that he really wanted to be able to give townspeople a month's notice with respect to the Deliberative session.

The board heard from the homeowner Russell Quintal and his attorney Beth Davis regarding the Carkin Street warrant article. The board, Michael Weider and Andrew Hadik from Planning, all discussed this with Davis for a long time. The issue is that Carkin Street is a paper street even though the town accepted it as a town road and Quintal has zoning issues with the garage and front porch as things sit. He is asking the town to discontinue the paper street and he and the other resident of the paper street would split the land now the paper street.

In the end Quintal said he only wanted to do what is right. He and his attorney wanted to encourage the board of selectmen to recommend the warrant article and that was the purpose for their coming to the board at this point.

The board later decided to hold off making a decision on whether or not to recommend the article. It was deemed important to inform the homeowners who would be receiving the land if the legislative body approved discontinuing the road how much they would owe the town, $13,216. The board will take this article up at the next meeting. The board also wanted to continue the discussion in non-public.

The board went over the Warrant and recommended most of the Articles although Selectmen Steve D'Angelo and Landau either abstained or voted not to recommend several including: The Revaluation Article, PACT Article, Highway CIP Article,  Highway CIP Projects, Police Department OHRV Article, Rescinding 2013 Article w0 regarding cemetery revenues, and,  Change in Town Meeting Date Article to second Tuesday in May.

The board delayed decision on the Operating Budget Article, CIP Projects, and the Carkin Street Article, but tentatively voted 4-0 to abstain. They moved the petition articles forward without recommendation.

Selectmen D'Angelo and Landau got into a disagreement again over the purchase of a truck for the Maintenance Department. Landau had wanted to take the Police Department used truck for maintenance and buy a new truck for the Police Department. The board after exchanging words voted 2-1-1 to move forward with buying a truck for Maintenance that had been identified as a good purchase at a discounted price..

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Vote to Extend CARES Act Coverage
By Penny Williams  1-17-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen discussed the request of the Chester Police Chief, on Thursday evening, January 14, to reconsider their decision regarding the expiration of the CARES Act as of December 31, 2020.

Police Chief Aaron Berube said he was asking the board to reconsider extending the CARES Act because his officers and the members of the Fire Department are first responders who can be exposed but since they now would need to use their own personal and sick time they would be less likely to report potential exposure. He said the department is working with the First Responder Optional Screening Test ( FROST) Program which is given weekly and if they test positive they have to go and get the COVID-19 PCR test and until they get a negative result they can't return to work.

Berube noted that even if the department is only down one position this is significant. He ask the board to reconsider reinstating the CARES Act even if they only approved 40 instead of 80 hours off with compensation before the officers' personal and sick time kicked in.

The board members all said they would support their people if they had to be out of work because of COVID-19 but Berube said he wants to ensure that his people have the best protection and support possible.

The board debated this and Selectman Joe Hagan said he would favor reactivating the CARES Act for 80 hours. After a brief further discussion the board reversed its decision and reinstated the CARES Act for 80 hours to remain in place until all the town's first responders are vaccinated when the board would look at this issue again.

The board discussed the Animal Control position which still hasn't been filled. After a discussion the board approved having Park Ranger, John Wright take on this role with a stipend of $2,500.

The warrant is still under discussion with each article assigned a temporary letter identifier. Once finalized they will be assigned numbers.

The Carkin Street Warrant Article asks the residents to vote to discontinue that portion of Carkin Street that abuts Donna Street and lies between tow house lots containing 12,406 square feet or0.28 + acres of land. That property would then revert to the abutters who will be responsible for any surveyor's fees associated with the lotline adjustment.

The board discussed this issue and Road Agent Michael Oleson affirmed that there is a decided plowing issue related to this street area. However, it was thought the town should get compensated for giving up that land to the homeowners. The board decided this should be reviewed or considered the Planning Board and the ZBA, It was decided before the board makes a decision they wanted Planning Board and ZBA to come in and provide their input to the board. Town Administrator Debra Doda was asked to make that happen.

There was a long and involved discussion regarding funding for the CIP and Highway CIP.  Special Warrant Article h asks the residents to vote to raise and appropriate the sum of (amount to be decided)  to be added to the capital reserve fund known as the Town's Municipal Capital Improvement  Plan Capital Reserve Fund .

Special Warrant Article j  asks voters to raise and appropriate the sum (to be decided) to be added to the capital reserve fund known as the Highway Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund with $144,597 which is the anticipated grant amount this year from the NH Highway Block Grant to be used to offset this appropriation and the remainder to be raised through taxation.

After a lot of discussion the board finally approved funding the CIP Capital Reserve Fund and the Highway Capital Reserve Fund with $700,000 each for a total of $1.4 million.

 


Chester Selectmen Vote to Send Out Stevens Hall RFP
By Penny Williams  1-10-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday night, January 7,  and after a brief discussion with Architect Gary Goudreau agreed to sending out the RFP for the renovation work on Stevens Hall.

Goudreau developed the RFP and has already made contacts with some General Contractors for the restoration work on Stevens Hall. The plan is to make sure the RFP is in General Contractors hands by January 15, give them time to review the building and see what needs to be done , and get their responses back by February 12.

The building must be tested for lead paint and Selectman Steph Landau said he would take care of getting that attended to immediately. The push to get the work on Stevens Hall done and completed  is to have it ready for the 300 Anniversary that is fast approaching.

The board approved Police Chief Aaron Berube accepting a grant in the amount of $8,090.56 which will give the department funds to train officers in how to provide narcan when needed. It will also make it possible for officers to have Narcan available in their cruisers and at the department.

The board discussed what to do about Carkin Street. It turns out the Town did accept it as a street. It involves about a quarter of an acre of land that the town owns and the board decided there needs to be a financial assessment of that land's value. Town Manager Debra Doda was asked to get this done. The proposed article will need to wait for this information for completion.

The board discussed the possibility of putting another Road Bond on the Warrant this year. The discussion about this found the board in agreement that this was not the time to be putting a bond on the Warrant. They decided to go only with the CIP for road work this year.

During the discussion about the road bond possibility, the selectmen discussed the fact that the Town should be putting money away in Capital Reserve Funds to help address big ticket items they know are coming up in the near future. These issues include two fire department trucks that will need to be replaced and the need for more work on the roads, among other things.

One way to get these Capital Reserve Funds started would be to tap into the Unassigned Fund Balance. The selectmen wanted specific figures of what would be available if the Unassigned Fund Balance was brought down to 12 percent. The final decision would be made about the development of Capital Reserve Funds and how much to put in them before the Warrant goes to the Budget Committee so this will be discussed at the next meeting.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo asked Doda how recent the Town Vehicle and Equipment list  is. He said it is a good thing to have but it needs to be updated annually and contain critical information such as when purchased, amount of the purchase cost, maintenance records and mileage. Doda said she would look into upgrading the list to meet his suggestions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Develop an attitude of Gratitude !!
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie ~