Location: Town Offices
Date: May 25, 2017
Members present: Jay Jacobs, Andrew Maneval, Jonathan Miner
Meeting opened: 7:00 pm; Meeting adjourned: 9:15 pm
Members of the public present: Akhil Garland, Les LaMois, Doug Miller, Diane Miller, Laurie Appel, Kathleen Bollerud, Chick Colony, Pat Colony, Seth Farmer, Peggy Evans, John Evans, Erin Hammerstedt, Donlin Foreman, Barbara Watkins, Scott Oliver, and Marylou DiPietro.
Upon request by Mr. Alan Saari, the SB agreed to note for purposes of the minutes that Mr. Saari had appeared the week prior and requested information about the number of bids for the paving of Bonds Corner Road. SB notified Mr. Saari of the bidding process and the details surrounding it.
Streetlight Project – Erin Hammerstedt, representing herself as a resident of School Street as well as members of the Historic Harrisville community as the Executive Director of Historic Harrisville, spoke on the subject of new LED streetlights for the town. Ms. Hammerstedt raised particular concern about the design suitability of the new lights for the historic neighborhoods, sharing information from a community meeting the previous night and from conversations she had with Eversource representatives. Eversource’s Culture Resource Specialist, Mark Dubrowsky, told Ms. Hammerstedt that Laurel Boivin, the Community Outreach contact and liaison for Eversource in the Monadnock region, is on vacation this week. Ms. Hammerstedt stated Historic Harrisville’s interest in including Ms. Boivin in the process when she returns. Paul Houseman, the Account Executive who has previously met with the SB to review the LED / EOL (Efficient Outdoor Lighting) program, affirmed for Ms. Hammerstedt what Jay Jacobs had stated the previous meeting, including that 1) Eversource owns the current fixtures; 2) the Town will purchase any new fixtures; 3) Eversource will install and provide power to the new fixtures; and 4) the new fixtures must meet Eversource specifications, including that they must be approved by the Design Light Consortium (or be DLC-listed), and that many options exist within those parameters. Ms. Hammerstedt’s understanding was that there is flexibility in terms of potential vendors and fixture selection.
Ms. Hammerstedt then shared what she learned in her research regarding the rebate program, first as it relates to energy savings through the transition to LED lights and, secondly, in the fixture cost. She clarified that if a fixture passes Eversource’s screening, then it is eligible for a rebate and that, at the current projection of an 80-85 watt-fixture savings with the fixture being proposed, then a $100 per fixture rebate is possible. With the possibility of changing out 54 lights in town, that would result in a $5,400 rebate. Erin Hammerstedt wondered if the opportunity for the rebate is what is driving the town’s selection of a particular fixture and noted that the selection of another fixture could result in less of a rebate, or no rebate at all.
Based on this information, Ms. Hammerstedt requested of the Select Board to pause the project where it is and to allow time to explore alternatives. Historic Harrisville offered to supply volunteers to research the alternatives and to report back to the SB. Les LaMois commented that residents are reviewing the Historic Harrisville Archives to locate examples or old photographs of streetlight designs.
When Diane Miller asked of the SB who has done the research to date, Jon Miner responded that the SB has been working with Eversource and has done its own research with the help of community volunteers knowledgeable in the area to select new fixtures that meet safety needs with minimal environmental impact. Diane Miller hoped that, in addition to assessing practical aspects, the board is considering aesthetics. Jay Jacobs noted the current examples available for viewing on Marlboro Street in Keene, which he encouraged residents to view both during the day and at night. When a resident raised the possibility of maintaining the older fixtures in the older sections of town and installing new ones in other areas, Jay Jacobs noted that, as had been stated, older parts are no longer available and these fixtures could not be maintained or repaired. Jon Miner added that the Town still gets charged for lights that aren’t working. Jay Jacobs noted that the town depends on people reporting in about malfunctioning lights.
Andrew Maneval then described the process to date of the Streetlight Program. Several months before Town Meeting in 2016, it became clear that a lot of the streetlights were not working, and the SB focused on a plan to address the problem. Several months before the 2017 Town Meeting, discussions were held at the SB meetings about options to transition to LED lights. During the budget making process and into the budget hearing, to which the town was invited, the SB talked about all of the budget proposals and all of the Warrant Articles that had a budget implication, the Streetlight Warrant Article being one of them. At that time, the SB discussed the upfront costs and the savings. Andrew Maneval stated he could not recall any pushback on this Warrant Article and the town’s proceeding with it. Additionally, the Streetlight Warrant Article had already been crafted and posted for public review. Then, at the Town Meeting in March, discussion on the Article took place and it was at Town Meeting that certain concerns were raised about the color of new lights, which resulted in an Amendment to the Article calling for a test of two different color options (white or yellow) and the Amendment passed. Since then, the SB has been struggling to deal with Eversource to move ahead with what the Town decided to do. Mr. Maneval noted that the SB serves as the executive branch to carry out the directives of the residents of Harrisville at the Town Meeting. To materially deviate from what the Town voted for, including by way of an Amendment to the originally posted and ultimately approved Warrant Article, the SB would have to consider the implications of that. Mr. Maneval noted that, as part of the Amendment that passed, the Historic District Commission would be asked to look at the test lights to determine what was appropriate and where. The SB has been moving toward having that test happen with the HDC’s involvement, as well as holding a public meeting, where people would come to express their interest in where they’d like to have lights or not to have lights, after which the SB would consider the feedback from the HDC on the color issue, and the feedback from residents on placement. Mr. Maneval noted that what the Town has directed the SB to do has to be part of the discussion.
Kathy Bollerud raised the point that she interpreted the Amendment to the Warrant Article to involve both the fixture as well as the color of the light, after which Andrew Maneval read part of the Amendment aloud which stated, “We request that the utility company will provide at least two samples of LED color temperature lights that can be installed for a two-month demonstration period. The Historic District Commission can then observe and determine the best choice for a National Historic Landmark District and for the town at large.”
Erin Hammerstedt commented that the community may not have been clear on what it was voting for and that she hopes they could come to an agreement with the Select Board to find a resolution so that the answer wouldn’t just be “no” on the choice of a fixture. Andrew Maneval reiterated that the issue involves taking into account what the Town decided, and that while the SB appreciates hearing from Historic Harrisville, it is beholden to the whole town and the SB can’t simply decide to go against what the whole town decided, or the reasons for which the Town voted the way it did.
Several residents then stated their disagreement with the interpretation of the Amendment and their uncertainty when they voted on it as to whether the new LED program involved just the color of the lights or both the lights and the fixtures. Further discussion surrounded the wording of the number of samples to be provided. Seth Farmer stated his belief that there is nothing in the Article or Amendment that binds the town to a choice. Erin Hammerstedt reiterated their concern that they have a chance to have input on the fixture.
Pat Colony mentioned that other historic towns (e.g., Hancock) have dealt with this issue and suggested that the SB look into their selection process. Jon Miner noted the difference between different towns’ installing their own poles and fixtures versus using Eversource’s infrastructure. Jay Jacobs further noted that the budget of Harrisville doesn’t allow for installing its own poles and, because the Town opted to install new LED lights, the possibility of retaining older fixtures isn’t possible.
Doug Walker asked if there is an option to choose from 4 possible fixtures, to go with a sleeker looking fixture on the outskirts of town and a more historic-looking design in town and in Chesham and, if the budget is an issue, to revisit or finish the program as part of next year’s budget. Kathy Bollerud asked if there was a fixture that the Historic District Commission recommended for the village and Chesham, would the Town then be bound by that, and Jay Jacobs stated that the Town is responsible to the HDC in the historic districts.
Andrew Maneval then laid out the three financial aspects to keep in mind, including the cost of the selected fixtures, the savings achieved on lower energy costs and the rebate, though these aspects don’t necessarily determine what is decided. While, Mr. Maneval stated he doesn’t doubt what different people perceived about the program, the concerns the SB heard about the lights throughout the decision-making process related to color. Stating that while the SB could seek to undo that, he is concerned about doing so and offending the decisions of the town. He added that any alternatives considered have to take into account the cost elements and the consequences for what is approved, potentially being in the position of altering, amending or interpreting the decision legally. The SB clarified that the Warrant Article gives the Town until the end of next year to enact the program but the rebate opportunity runs out as soon as the rebate program funds are depleted. With each month that it is delayed, the town is paying 60% in cost for electricity.
Jay Jacobs then asked fellow SB members whether they would consider granting Historic Harrisville a week to research and return to the SB with alternatives that meet the financial and design specification criteria. They agreed to grant the group 7-10 days.
Chick Colony spoke to say he interpreted the vote at Town Meeting to be that the town voted for changing the lights to LED lights and for spending $20,000 and to do so with the opportunity to have input in the process of determining what kind of light and what kind of fixtures. Andrew Maneval acknowledged the different perspectives and noted that it was always made public that, once the lights had been selected, people would be heard at a public hearing about where they wanted lights to be installed. He further explained that the December 2018 timeframe is based on the town’s not wanting the funds for the program to lapse should there be delays working with Eversource to implement the program. When asked by Akhil Garland why LED bulbs can’t be placed in the current fixtures until a selection is made on a new fixture, Jon Miner responded that Eversource restricts what bulbs can be installed based on their own guidelines and tariffs.
Historic Harrisville agreed to research alternatives and submit a report to the SB within two weeks, either with the information on the available options or an explanation and timeframe for when their proposal would be complete.
Andrew Maneval noted that, as a result of Historic Harrisville’s/HDC’s findings, it is possible the SB could agree that what is proposed fits in with what the Town approved or that the SB may find out that it’s not possible to carry out the wishes expressed by HH/HDC for the Landmark District and thus the SB would choose not to make any changes, which would mean the lights ultimately would not function but that the new lights would be installed elsewhere.
On the idea of using different lights within and outside the villages, Chick Colony stated he believes it makes sense to agree on one light for the whole town and to go with that given that the majority of lights are located within both historic districts. Andrew Maneval then raised the question of different types of light and whether the type wanted in front of the General Store would work in an area like the intersection of Seaver Road and Chesham Roads, which he feels is an appropriate place for one. Doug Walker added that other towns across the country dealing with this issue have approached it using a two-tiered system where lights are different elevations based on their purposes serving drivers or more pedestrian-centered streets. The board returned to the question of cost and the need to serve the interests of the whole town good.
Trails Committee – Barbara Watkins and Scott Oliver expressed concern to the SB about inappropriate use of the trails by motorized vehicles, possibly jeeps, and the resulting damage to the trails. When asked their recommendations by the SB, Barbara Watkins noted the effectiveness of the letter sent out last year. Without the resources to fix the ruts, they stated it would be nice if the highway department could help. The board discussed timing and options to repair the damage and noted they encourage residents not to use the rail trails for motorized vehicles. They also noted that, if Mike Wilder is in position to repair damage, the Town would be willing to provide gravel for that purpose. The SB also stated it would talk to the Road Agent.
Documents signed and reviewed:
SB signed weekly cash disbursements in the amount of $127,313.05.
SB signed meeting minutes for May 18, 2017.
SB acknowledged the Broadband Initiative letter prepared by Andrew Maneval, which will be an insert in Common Threads.
SB passed a resolution to not allow any non-government business postings within the buildings due to limited space. Jon Miner suggested the idea of Common Threads’ publishing a local business directory once a year to be available in the post office and at town office. SB will talk to Deborah Abbott about the idea.
Primex – SB signed Worker’s Compensation Agreement.
Ciardelli Fuel Co. – SB discussed the 2017 Fixed Price Agreement and requests more information on fuel heating costs, including input from at least 3 providers including Rymes and Ciardelli for pricing and proposed contracts for propane.
SB signed the Service Agreement for the Employee Retirement Plan.
Assessing – SB signed Timber Yield Tax for Akhil Garland (Map-50-15, 50-07).
Conservation Commission – SB noted Meeting Minutes for May 3, 2017.
Fire Department – SB acknowledged the appointments of the Forest Fire Warden (David O’Neil) and Deputy Warden (Joe Breidt, Wayne DeRosia, Russell Driscoll and Randy Tarr) for a term ending in December 31, 2017.
Library – SB noted email from Susan Weaver regarding front door maintenance work for Tom Tolman.
Zoning Board – SB noted Revised Meeting Minutes for May 17, 2017.
Health Trust – SB noted Important News about the benefit plan for enrollees and retirees.
NHDES – Human Factors Guidelines for Road Systems Survey
Standard Power – SB noted new contract based on the recent market prices.
NHDOT – Email from Sean Ryan regarding the NH DOT Scenic Byway. Andrew Maneval will review and contact Sean Ryan.
SB acknowledged receipt of the Monadnock Security Inspection Report.
May 28th – Memorial Day Remembrance Service at 11:00 at Veteran’s Park.
May 29th – Memorial Day (Office Closed),
June 8th – Tim Carney will meet with the Selectmen at 7:00pm.
July 7th – 9th – Old Home Days