2021 Chester Board of Selectmen Meetings

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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