Meeting Minutes of the Select Board

 Location:  town offices Date:  August 14, 2020  
 Opened:    9:00 am Adjourned:  12:00 pm  

Select Board Members:  Jay Jacobs, Kathy Scott, Andrea Hodson ___________

Attendees: EMD Jeff Cady, Fire Chief Wayne Derosia, Mary Day Mordecai, Health Officer David Belknap, Police Chief Russell Driscoll, Barbara Watkins, Dennis Fallon, Dick Stone, Donna Stone, Ned Hulbert

Transportation Committee– Mary Day Mordecai informed the board that the MAST grant application was submitted to SWRPC on July 31. The total available fund pool is $90,000.  The TC expects to hear mid to late fall.

Silver Lake– The SB noted, given the time needed to address myriad issues, it will focus in the near term on parking enforcement. To start, the board will collaborate with and seek support from the state DOT on a plan for designated parking along Breed Road. The board will make a formal decision in September where vehicle and trailer parking will be allowed and otherwise ticketed. The board will address the longer term matters of overall safety and enforcement authority around the lake once this immediate step is resolved.

There was a difference of opinion among board members and the Police and Fire Chiefs on whether or not serious safety concerns are present, with the latter two officials not observing to date cause for serious concern as expressed by others.  All agreed private property owners are responsible for enforcing parking and any other matters on their own property at their own discretion and that education of residents and visitors is the best way.

The SB read aloud the metes and bounds and parking restrictions as outlined by the DOT and noted there currently are “No Parking on Pavement” signs in place. The group discussed some history of the issue and the DOT regulations, which were issued around previous work on the boat ramp. The Police Chief talked about the more recent reality that larger boats take up more room. He commended the Lake Hosts for their helpful work and data.

Dennis Fallon spoke to the parking occurring on the grass, south of the off-road parking area, since the removal years ago by the state of the guardrail for ease of plowing in winter. The Police Chief added that also missing is a post that used to block visitors from parking on grass. The SB will get someone to fix the post.  Barbara Watkins added that the Silver Lake Association has been researching the issues and agrees with the town’s approach of dealing with parking immediately and addressing longer term issues over the coming year in preparation for next season. The SLA research group will get additional information for the board.

As a final point, the SB noted that, town-wide, there is very little organized parking and that enforcement requires an evenhanded approach all across town, which may cause problems.  The Police Chief recommends that the Traffic Safety Committee convene with the state on this and form a plan. He stressed that all area law enforcement are observing that this is an abnormal summer as far as overall volume of visitors to area lakes. The supervisor of the Silver Lake Lake Host program noted they welcome visitors and believe all is going well considering the increased numbers this year.

Governor’s new Covid guidelines on large gatherings– Health Officer David Belknap, Emergency Management Director Jeff Cady and the Police Chief spoke to the issuance of new guidelines outlining the enforcement process for events encompassing 100 or more guests. Enforcement, they explained, is through the Attorney General’s office, though complaints should be placed with the local Health Officer and/or Police Department, who would then visit the location and request that guidelines be followed. Event organizers are responsible for ensuring compliance. The state liquor commission also has enforcement authority.

Regarding the religious gathering planned in new Ipswich, the Police Chief noted that private property owners can ask unwanted visitors to leave and, if visitors don’t comply, property owners can call the police.  Barbara Watkins implored the town to protect residents from out of state visitors entering the area, visiting the stores here and nearby. When she asked how enforcement would occur, the Emergency Management Director explained that there is no limit on the number allowed to gather as long as other safety requirements are met and guidelines are complied with. The SB will follow up with the Code Enforcement Officer on the procedures in place. Town officials confirmed that all event venues and businesses continually receive updated guidelines.

Blood Hill Road– Dick Stone asked the SB to meet with him and Mr. Garland to visit the 100- foot area of the stone wall now buried under by dirt and gravel. Mr. Stone noted that a new stone wall is now being constructed along an incorrect pathway, making an illegal boundary marker.  Andrea Hodson will schedule a site visit with the property owners.

Electric Aggregation Committee update– Ned Hulbert reviewed the mid-August update for the SB, including the legislative authority allowing towns to pursue options for lower cost electricity and renewable energy options for residents and businesses. The short-term plan is to buy electricity at bulk, wholesale rates for the town, which would include renewable energy sources. Longer term, the EAC is looking at a reserve fund to finance energy efficiency for homeowners, local power generation and skills training. The complete slide deck is attached to these minutes. Mr. Hulbert noted the numerous towns considering the Community Power avenue. While collaboration with other municipalities could allow for efficiencies, all agreed local control is important.  Residents would maintain the ability to opt out. The program would impose no tax liability on the town.

The EAC will hold two Community Conversations, one in September and one in late October, to solicit residents’ feedback. In the meantime, the EAC will meet on August 25 with representatives from numerous area towns exploring similar possibilities. At this time, the EAC is leaning towards a Community Power New Hampshire, a not-for-profit entity to realize economies of scale, greater energy sourcing options and better opportunity for local investment and retail innovation in energy production. The goal remains bringing a Warrant Article forward at Town Meeting in March 2021.  All agreed on the real issue of balancing competing interests for valuable land.

Town Clerk– The SB reviewed payrates for ballot clerks from around the state, which the Town Clerk will share with the towns’ ballot clerks. The SB is considering options to carry out the vote at Town Meeting 2020 to increase compensation. One option involves a distribution to the clerks of the $1300 additional amount approved, while leaving the hourly wage as is. The board will consider going to a daily stipend for the next election cycle.  The Town Clerk has noted that the average shift on election days is 13 hours.

At 11:00 am, per RSA 91-A:3 II, the SB moved and voted unanimously in favor to enter non-public session to discuss an employee matter. The board noted it will draft a letter notifying the employee of Family Medical Leave Act protections in place under the town’s personnel policies and will request information from the employee to secure these protections. The board discussed additional options to support the employee. No decisions were made or action taken. At 11:24 am, the board moved and voted unanimously in favor to exit non-public session.

Fuel quotes– The SB will review the information provided by the Finance Coordinator, noting it has two weeks to notify vendors. The board will decide at its next meeting.

Highway– The board acknowledged receipt of the notice from Cargill that road salt quotes will be issued following the August 25 auction for Vermont and New Hampshire.