Select Board Meeting Minutes 10/22/2019

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Town of Otis

Select Board Meeting Minutes

October 22, 2019


Call to Order:  Meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.  A quorum was present and the meeting was recorded.


Present:           Select Board members Gary Thomas, Bill Hiller, Larry Southard, Town                                                 Administrator Becky Stone, Cristian Sanchez, Jim Crandall, Karen Fink, Lyn                              O’Brien, Steve Nelson Jeff Gamelli, Patricia Richard, Mark Anthony, Frank                                     Tolopko, Donald Capponcelli, Jr., Marion Middleton, Paul Davis, Celeste                                             Watman, Derek Poirer, Russell Kitson, Sonia Morrison, Susan Ebitz, Walter                                   Engels, Larry Gould, and Nancy Crandall were present.


Review Meeting Minutes:  The October 8, 2019 Select Board meeting minutes were approved by Bill and Larry as written with Gary abstaining.


Pole Hearing:  A Verizon representative presented a map and request for a pole to be installed on Algerie Road, Job #4A0H3UT, to be jointly used by Verizon and Eversource.  Derek and Larry Gould had already looked over the map and plan and approved the placement.  The Board unanimously approved the pole position and signed three copies of the order to be filed.


Treasurer Business:  Town Treasurer Karen Fink presented bond notes to be signed by the Board.  She explained borrowing done through the state, which enabled the town to get very low interest rates.


Board of Health:

13 No. Lake Ave. – Mike Kulig of Berkshire Engineering came to present new survey plans prepared for the homeowners for a well variance.  Property survey matches the existing plan.  Good perc test results up by the road.  No abutter issues.  Jim Wilusz explained that the proposed well site meets maximum feasible compliance.  Well variance was unanimously approved.

192 Kibbe Rd. – Steve Nelson from Clearwater Recovery presented plans for a jet system with a 50% reduction from the lakeside to across the street.  Abutter has been notified.  Jim Wilusz approves the system, but instructed Steve to coordinate with the town highway department since it will be crossing the road.  Derek was in attendance and has no concerns with the system.  Septic variance was unanimously approved.

Hazardous Waste Collection – November 2nd, Great Barrington – Jim explained collection available to Berkshire County residents.  Flyers are available with list of items that can be dropped off.

            Permiting – Bill asked Jim about uploading plans to review site plans rather than having hard copies, which led to a discussion about the convenience of online permitting.  It would reduce time and hours necessary for filing permits with the Board of Health clerk.  Jim is a proponent of the town being part of an online system already being used by the Tri-Town Health Department.  He added that once a file is uploaded to the system, all permitting can be done through the system, not only BOH business, so that all work done on a property will be in the same file.


Surplus Equipment – Scag VPro Mower  – Bid Opening:

The following bids were submitted:

Russell Kitson – $711.36

Namiot – $525.00

Cristian Sanchez – $650.00

Loring – $652.99

Highest bidder was Russell Kitson who was in attendance and awarded the bid.


Highway Department:  Derek discussed license updates recently acquired by current employees and requested payroll raises on their behalf.  There was discussion and the Board unanimously approved $1.00/hr. raises.  There was also discussion with Derek and Jim to utilize the maintenance crew to keep up with snow plowing this winter, instead of adding another employee to the highway crew, and payroll to come out of Snow & Ice Removal for those circumstances.  Jim noted that he believes it might be better for the town to hire another highway employee, but is willing to try it this winter.  Derek added that Tyringham Road job was finished today and that the Waste Water Treatment Plant paving will be done tomorrow.


MLP Installation Contract for FTTX:  Bill explained the drop contract bid to those in attendance.  The bids were opened.  Sertex submitted the winning bid.  As soon as Sertex has been informed that they have been awarded the bid, they will order the job material and start the work.  They will also increase their crews to do the installations to get the town back on schedule, because the timeline for the completion of broadband for the town had been set back by the company awarded the work by Whip City Fiber.  The original target completion date was the end of the calendar year, but has been pushed out to the first quarter of next year.  Walter added that his personal experience with the work performed by Sertex was exceptional.


Fire Alarm Upgrades Bid Award:  Jim reported that $15,000 was budgeted to upgrade fire alarms for 4 town buildings:  Harmony Hall, Highway Garage and the 2 Firehouses.  Three vendors submitted bids to the town:  IBS, $20,552.26;  Lee Audio, $15,958.00;  and DAS Alarm $24,249.58.  The lowest bid was from Lee Audio.  In addition, separate from this contract, the town insurance company will give the town a grant for heating and water environmental monitoring.  The Safety Equipment grant is $1,884.  Larry Gould further explained that each of these 4 buildings have been brought up to code and that the maintenance department checks the buildings and fire alarms every day.  The Town Hall and Library were inspected in the fall.


East Otis Schoolhouse Project:  Becky reported that she and Larry Gould have fine-tuned and revised the RFP for the rehabilitation project.  There was discussion on the language of the RFP and the process the town can take to implement this project based on the scope of design and construction work and based on procurement laws and MGL laws.  Sonia noted priorities that the Historical Commission has regarding the RFP and overall project.  Becky explained architects/engineers are exempt from MGL 30B, so the Board could simply hire an architect to begin the design work.  Larry Gould and Jim will meet with Sonia on site next week with an architect.  They will report back to the Board with the results of the visit.


Library – Digitizing Books:  Celeste Watman gave an overview of the process of archiving and cataloging historical records through the Boston Public Library, which is a program free of charge to the town and library.  The process can take weeks or months depending on the scope of work.  The BPL arranges with clients to take the items (loose, individual or bound) to be stored in a document room.  After items are scanned, clients have the option of having items returned or stored.  There is a camera security system for stored items.  Celeste explained that documents can be accessed through the internet on the BPL website after they’ve been scanned.  Lyn had a list of questions for Celeste regarding the program.  Lyn suggested to the Board that the town begin with a small collection first to try the service out a little bit at a time and then submit material annually.  Sue Ebitz encourages the town to submit unique items, such as old agricultural posters hanging in the hallways in town hall.  It was suggested, too, that the town share the link on the town website, so that anyone can access the historical items.  The Board unanimously approved the project.


Erbe Building Lease:  The Board reviewed and signed the lease renewal for the Erbe Building and will be presented to the Tenant for signature.


Other Business:


Sonia asked when maintenance could move Historical Commission items into temporary storage.  Jim explained they could do that now, because new locks were installed.


Jim reported that a Sandisfield resident made an informal request to be allowed to get a beach sticker, because they own land in Otis, though their house is in Sandisfield.  The Board unanimously agreed that this would be permissible.  Becky reported that a resident requested that the town change the transfer station operating hours.  After a short discussion, it was agreed that the hours will be kept as they are.


MA DOT Public Hearing on December 3rd, 6:30 pm at Otis Town Hall regarding Tannery Road.  This is a follow up with residents regarding the bridge being closed and part of the bridge replacement process.


Nancy submitted her letter of resignation as Selectmen’s Secretary.  Gary made a motion to accept her letter of resignation effective October 31st.  It was agreed upon unanimously by the Board.


There was discussion last year that a Mitigation Plan upgrade will need to be done, which will be around $15,000, in order to apply for grants through MEMA.  The Town has been awarded the planning grant and administrative staff and other department heads will be providing the matching portion through their time, which totals approximately $3,900.


Gary recommended that All Boards meetings be suspended until further notice due to lack of attendance.  Sonia recommends that the meetings be mandatory.  Bill agreed and suggested meetings be held quarterly.  Larry endorses the meetings, but can’t do Monday nights.


Knox Trail Sno-Riders Lease got final signature from Gary and copy will be made for Jeff Gamelli to pick up.


There was discussion about posting the current available Town Hall positions.  It was recommended that the Board call on former applicants, post the positions on the town website and in the town post offices.  Gary recommended setting up a Board meeting for next Tuesday for interviews.  Becky and Bill offered other options to fill the Town Administrator position.  The Board decided to post the job internally and within town.  Interviews will begin on Tuesday, October 29th for interested applicants to begin the process of filling the positions.


Adjournment:  At 9:42 pm the Select Board unanimously adjourned the Select Board meeting.



Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Crandall

Selectmen’s Secretary, Town of Otis



List of Documents


  1. Pole position petition, order for location and map for placement on Algerie Road, Job #4A0H3UT.


  1. Bond notes for signing from the Treasurer.


  1. Questions from the Town Clerk and answers from Celeste Watman regarding digitizing and archiving historical town records and a description of the Boston Public Library Digital Archiving Program to be filed with these minutes.


  1. Erbe Building Lease for FY20, dated November 15, 2019.


  1. Hazardous Waste Disposal flyer, November 2nd, 9am-noon, Great Barrington Recycling Center, 601 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington.


  1. Email from Becky to MEMA regarding Hazard Mitigation Plan and PDM 18 Planning Grant Funding Award, dated October 21, 2019;  Notes from Becky regarding estimated cost to do plan upgrade.


  1. Letter of resignation from Nancy Crandall, dated October 16, 2019.