By Thomas D’Agostino
WEBSTER - Oxford Town Manager Joseph M. Zeneski and Board of Selectmen Chair Jennie L. Caissie addressed the Webster Board of Selectmen on Monday April 23 to discuss the Inter-Municipal Agreement between the two towns in regard to sewer hookup. The contract is for Oxford residents to have the ability to tie into Webster’s wastewater management system. As customers they would pay for the service but cannot sell it to another municipality.
Dudley asked Oxford for a possibility to tie into the system. The Webster Board of Selectmen clearly stated that Oxford does not have the authority to sell the service to another municipality. “We clearly stated that you cannot do that (make an agreement with Dudley). So I don’t know how you went into an agreement by doing that.” Chairman Walter Ricci stated.
The Webster Board of Selectmen and Oxford officials amended some of the language in the original IMA agreement to state that Oxford can only use the facility for wastewater generated in Oxford. This amendment makes sure that if Dudley wants to use Webster’s facility, it must go through Webster. According to Mr. Zeneski, only a few Dudley residents wanted to connect to the system.
In other business, Dore and Whittier Architects, Inc. presented the board with an update on the new Park Avenue Elementary School. The present school is fifty years old and not only 23 per cent undersized, but the whole infrastructure has outlived its useful life. The heating and ventilation are outdated, the roof leaks, the building has no fire sprinkler system, and the operational costs are high due to inefficient and faulty systems.
The present grade structure is also a factor. Webster presently has a K-2 elementary school, 3-6 middle school and 7-12 senior high school. Superintendent Dr. Gregory M. Ciardi addressed the board, “These grade level configurations are very unusual.” Mr. Ciardi also stated, “We are fixing the school system at the same time we are fixing the school.”
Ninety eight percent of people surveyed on the subject stated they wanted a K-4, 5-8 and 9-12 grade structure configuration. Dr. Ciardi stated, “What this project does, it not only fixes a building problem, it creates an opportunity for a grade structure. It makes educational sense, it makes child development sense, and in fact represents what ninety eight percent of us wanted, those surveyed, wanted.”
At present, state reimbursement would cover a projected 77.9% of the cost leaving the town with about $15.9- 17.4 million dollars in out-of- pocket costs. If the voters choose not to have the new school built, the repairs to the present school would not be funded at all by the state and would total about 19.8 million dollars. This would only address necessary repairs, and the school would still need replacing. If Webster does not move forward with the project the current agreement with the state will expire and the community will lose funding.
Finance Committee Chairman Michael Finamore addressed the board in regard to informing the public that this is one of four building projects the citizens of Webster will be paying for. The police and fire stations were already approved, Bay Path School is the third and the Park Avenue School is the fourth. The Bay Path Article is on the warrant for the May 14 Annual Town Meeting. Mr. Finamore stated that he is all for the new school but just wants to make sure the voters are aware of what these projects will cost them. Mr. Finamore said, “We are not anti-school. What I’m bringing forward is the figures that it’s going to cost an average citizen in the Town of Webster that owns a house.”
The new sustainable “green” building would address these issues as well as provide 21st century learning facilities, special education classrooms, full handicap accessibility and would amount to a forty one percent projected electrical and heating cost reduction. The three level building is designed to be in keeping with the residential neighborhood by resembling condominium homes.
Town Administrator’s review for Fiscal Year 2012 was very favorable. Ratings are based on 1-5, 5 being the highest rating. The review was broken up into eight categories. 1. Planning and Organization, Mr. McAuliffe scored a 4.61;
2. Administration, 4.69.
3. Budget, Financial Planning and Town Meeting, 4.72.
4. Supervising Departments, Agencies and Offices, 4.42.
5. Communication with the Board of Selectmen, 4.5.
6. Communication with the Community 4.43.
7. Relationships with staff, 4.41.
8. Property management, 4.56.
The overall rating was 4.54 out of a possible 5. Chairman Ricci stated “I was very pleased to be the chairman with you as the Town Administrator.”
Mr. McAuliffe thanked and praised everyone who has been part of the town’s development and growth. Mr. McAuliffe also said, “It’s great to have a supportive board that recognizes we are all here for the same reason.”
Discussion on peddlers in town setting up and selling their wares was an issue. Local businesses have complained that peddlers are setting up and selling the same wares, taking business away from the town. Selectman Deborah Keefe suggested looking into the town issuing peddler’s licenses to the street vendors or having the authorities check to see if they have state licenses. The street peddlers would have to have a state license or a Webster license to sell in town. Selectman Keefe addressed the concern that the street vendors often set up on private property, or during holidays, doing business without anyone checking to see if they have licensed permission to be conducting sales. “We need to verify that these people have peddler’s licenses. Otherwise we can just send them off on their merry way.”
Ted Avlas addressed the board with the possibility of remote participation in regard to meetings where officials are unable to attend but can communicate from other locations. This will be a future issue for the board to vote on.
Board of Health Agent, Cathleen Liberty presented the board with an emergency preparedness handbook. The handbook will be available at the town hall for anyone interested in obtaining one.
Transfer of license for Webster Wine and Liquors was approved.
Waterfront Mary’s was granted an outdoor entertainment license for single solo acoustic acts from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. until the end of July. The license is under the stipulation that the music will be soft, unobtrusive and on weekends falling between the aforementioned hours.
Kitchen equipment from the A.J. Sitkowski School and the Webster Senior Center was declared as surplus by the board. The town has advertised to take sealed bids for the equipment.
St. Joseph parish was granted a one-day liquor license for their three-day festival.
Earth Day is Saturday April 28. Anyone wishing to volunteer may contact Debbie Rousseau at 508-949-0067; text to 774-272-1949; or email Deb Horan at