Meeting Minutes of the Select Board

 Location:  Town offices Date:  April 15, 2021
 Opened:    7:00 pm Adjourned: 9:25 pm

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

Attendees:Mike Tollett, Jeff Cady David Belknap, Priscilla Hardy, Barbara Watkins, Julia Pakradooni, Beth Healy, Kelly Byam, Jeff Miller, George Colony, Marcy Schepker, Jerry Moschan, Erik Johnson, Andrew Scanlan, Nancy Chabott, Peter Temple, Olivia Belanger, Sheryl [last name], Harol Caball, Winston Sims, Doug Byam, Charles Michal, Meg Killilea, Whitney Field, Sarah Kendall, Rebecca Knight, Bea Prusciewicz, Michael Reilly, Benjamin Dexter, Annala Derosia, Audrey Salzman, Greg Stouzenberger, Scott Oliver, Chick Colony, Pete Thayer, David Lord, Gordon [last name], Ann Colony, Bryan Kingsbury, Roy Ayotte, Pam Wilder, Jeff Trudelle, Sue Coleman, Paul Whitney, Sharon Breidt, Joe Breidt, Tonya Wilder [2 additional in fire house], Bonnie Anderson, John Newcombe [If you attended and your name is not here, please call the Select Board Office to correct the record –  827-3431 (ext 1)]

Health / Covid update
In light of the Governor’s lifting of the mask mandate but still recommending masks when social distancing cannot be maintained, and given that municipalities and businesses are left to make their own decisions, the board agreed to maintain safety guidelines on town property. This is the recommendation of both David Belknap and Jeff Cady, who added the board could consider revisiting these in 30 days. Both noted there was no change in social distancing or other guidelines. They will re-measure conference room to allow for safe in-person attendance. For meetings with overflow capacity, the Fire Department meeting room is open for the public to zoom in. David recommended the board hold its meetings in a larger room if possible.

During board comments, Jay Jacobs agreed about maintaining the mask mandate but believes the room could hold more attendees than recommended. Ms. Hodson recommended a microphone and extra camera to enhance audio and video for attendees given mask-wearing and difficulty hearing over zoom. Following disagreement about the need, additional expense and how long zoom will continue, it was agreed Andrea would investigate cost.

Police Department– Following Chief Tollett’s recommendation to increase officers’ hourly detail rates from $60 to $75, in line with the rate charged by area towns, Jay Jacobs moved to accept the chief’s recommendation for new detail rate for the town. Andrea Hodson seconded. All voted in favor.

Silver Lake Parking Plan
Following up on the public hearing, Andrea Hodson began deliberations on input from those who oppose the plan, those in favor, and those who have suggested modifications. She noted the board would address what can and can’t be considered and what will be tabled to another day, but would not make a decision tonight. The board instead plans to share the final plan with the DOT and the public and finalize it, prior to voting on it. This meeting tonight would not include public input.

Ms. Hodson then referred to her notes (see attachment to these minutes), summarizing the various comments and highlighting Lake Host data between 2007 and 2020.  She cited the increase in number of boats on the water during these years, from 447 to 2,142, stating this reflects increased congestion. Reiterated was the Lake Host statistic that, if the proposed parking plan had been in effect in 2019, there were only 3 or 4 days in which there would not have been adequate spaces for boaters and lake visitors.  The goal now is to reach a number of spaces that isn’t arbitrary but reasonable and based on data.

Ms. Hodson then turned to the assessment of 21 lakes in southwestern NH around the state, overall showing an average ratio of 28 acres of lake to 1 parking spot. Spofford, as an example, offers 16 spaces. Granite Lake has 2 to 3, Nubanusit – 83, Skatutakee – 5 to 6. With 30 or 31 spaces in Harrisville’s Silver Lake plan, that would calculate at 11 acres per spot, more than double the number available for similar acreage of lake surface in this area of the state.

Further reviewing public hearing comments, Ms. Hodson noted the Fire Chief, following consultation with numerous agencies, recommended doing away with an emergency vehicle only space, saving it for the public. Public hearing comments further included the following: concern about proposed spacing (40’ in length) and location of tandem parking given the length of boats, trucks and trailers (the spacing was based on Fish & Game input, which uses an average);  where parking would be safer, with the suggestion that tandem parking would be safer on the south side of Breed Road; recommendation for pedestrian crossing signage north and south of the boat ramp on Breed Road; ensuring adequate spaces for swimmers; the need for enforcement, at Silver Lake and all water bodies in town; ideas for creating new spaces, through expansion of the south side of Breed Road, or through land acquisition; the pressure on Silver Lake due to more restrictive parking elsewhere in the state; request for a tie-down area; and that regulating parking is akin to privatizing the lake.

Some at the public hearing recommended no plan, but Andrea stated there is a plan from 2010. Many at the public hearing noted that 2020 was different because of the pandemic and the drought and conditions will be different. The reference to safety concerns was questioned by the Fire Chief, who cited one fender bender in his 17 years as chief, as well as others. Questions also arose about getting input from the Traffic Safety Commission. Access versus safety were the central issues.

Following the recap, Ms. Hodson asked fellow board members what issues should be considered and how, and what should be tabled. The parking plan schematic was exhibited on the screen. Board members first considered the Fire Chief’s recommendation to cede the emergency vehicle space and agreed. They then took up shifting tandem spacing from the north to the south side of Breed Road for safety and visibility reasons.

Following Jay Jacobs’s comments that he doesn’t see parking on both sides of Breed Road as safety issue, from his experience and that of those officials in town who know safety, but he believes it’s a boat-loading and access issue that is more properly dealt with by the state, the board debated its role in managing access. He also asked the board to talk about safety around the whole town, on village streets and other lakes and ponds, and reiterated his question what constitutes an acceptable limit, that the state should dictate this. He wonders about the perception of discriminating against the public in allowing only Harrisville residents on a state resource. His colleagues disagreed. Kathy Scott emphasized the need for more regular enforcement and police presence, given increased activity and increased popularity of boating and lake hobbies address signage and Seaver Road.

Andrea Hodson returned to the map, proposing to switch the tandem parking from the north to the south side of Breed road, and to offer a place to tie down with a flexible, or multi-purpose, space depending on the need at a given time, adjacent to the boat ramp. Mr. Jacobs said he didn’t hear from anyone in the boating community that they don’t want parking on the north side and, as long as it can be done safely, he’s in favor of it.

Kathy Scott turned to compromises, proposing allowing parking for a certain number of single vehicles on the north side of the road, and a handicap space. Andrea Hodson was against adding parking for both sides of the road. Ms. Scott suggested sending the proposal to the DOT for comment.  Don Scott will revise the plan schematic according to the these modifications discussed by the board.

Once again, Mr. Jacobs disagreed with claims of safety problems and cited safety issues every day in the village, believing there’s a difference between a problem and an issue. It reminds him of the hysteria over perceived safety hazards over the 101 bypass. Ms. Hodson believes the proposal offers a safe, orderly plan. Kathy Scott and Ms. Hodson both believe it’s the board’s job and responsibility to manage, with Ms. Scott also citing an ecological threat. Following further discussion, Jay Jacobs asked if the town has any right to manage the number of boats that go into the lake? Andrea Hodson noted the need for further research on carrier load in relation to acres of water surface and permitted parking. She added the board would revisit and attempt to finalize the plan at its meeting next Thursday.

Mr. Jacobs then moved to take whatever plan we have and take it Town Meeting for voters to decide.He believes it’s a large enough issue and that townspeople should weigh in. Andrea Hodson noted it’s too late for this Town Meeting, and that the board has discussed this over the past summer and fall. When Mr. Jacobs suggested waiting until 2022, she disagreed with waiting another year before putting a plan in place. There was no second to Mr. Jacobs’s motion.

Andrea Hodson moved to ask Don Scott to revise the map to reflect the proposed compromises, including moving tandem parking to the south side of Breed Road, change out the emergency vehicle spot for an open space, include a tie-down area and offer a few single spots on the north side of Breed Road.
Mr. Jacobs proposed 10 spaces for this area. At next Thursday’s meeting, the board will work to settle the plan.  The board stated that any further public comment can be submitted by email to the townhall@harrisvillenh.orgaddress for input into the public file.

Other business
Highway Department– The board will advertise employment opportunities at the Highway Department, with the goal of filling one full-time position and potentially, longer term, two. The Road Agent currently has two candidates.

Memorial Day Ceremony– The board okayed Rodger Martin’s proposal for an outdoor, socially distanced ceremony and asks that he discuss the plan with Jeff Cady and David Belknap.

Wells Memorial – Town Generator Maintenance Agreement – The board signed off on the agreement to share 50-50 with Wells Memorial the cost to maintain the school’s generator.

E-911 liaison – The SB will discuss with EMD Jeff Cady and Police Chief Tollett.

Equalization Ratio – The SB acknowledged receipt of DRA’s notification that the town’s Equalization Ratio is 85.5%. This is based on total assessed value of properties in town compared to the market value, the latter of which is experiencing an increase in towns across the state.

Audio loop technology – The board has conducted preliminary research on a telecoil based system, as audio loop requires people to have a certain type of hearing aid. Andrea Hodson will get more information on the alternative technology and will check with other audiology clinics in the area.