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Longmeadow Select Board makes a series of appointments

Date: 7/13/2017

LONGMEADOW – The Select Board met at Longmeadow High School on Monday to discuss a series of issues as well as appointments to the Board of Health, the Charter Review Committee, and a new Director of Veteran’s Services.

Board of Health
    Mary Pat Toye and Dr. Robert Rappaport were appointed to the Board of Health.  The two will be serving three-year-terms which will expire on June 30, 2020.  Michael Oumano was appointed to the associates term, which will expire on June 30, 2018.

Following their appointments, a motion was offered to change the configuration of the Board of Health.  Originally the Board of Health was set up with six members.  The motion was to have an additional two associate non-voting members that would sit in on all meetings and all discussions without having an active vote.  The Select Board believed that this would create more discussion in the meetings, as the additional two members would be able to express their opinions.

Charter Review Committee
    There was much discussion regarding how the Charter Review Committee should be chosen.  Select Board member Thomas Lachiusa suggested a process based on a system of numbers.  Vice Chair Person Mark Gold disagreed with Lachiusa’s process, and suggested they rank the individuals based on who they best saw fit of the positions.  

An agreement could not be found at the time of voting, so Town Manager Stephen Crane suggested they move forward and dispatch the rest of the business of the board and go back to discussing the Charter Review Committee appointments once all other business had been completed.

When the Select Board revisited the Charter Review Committee appointments at the end of the meeting, it was decided that the board would vote on their top six appointments in no particular order.  When this was complete, six people were selected for the Charter Review Committee, as well as two clear alternate spot holders.

David Martel, Larry Star, Arlene Miller, Gerard Nolet, Peter Landon, and Dr. Anastasios Angelides are now Charter Review Committee members with both Michael Clark and Elizabeth Bone serving as alternates.

Director of Veteran Services
    Lena Vellturo was appointed for the Director of Veteran Services position after a series of application screenings, two rounds of interviews and a standard computer aptitude test.  

“We had two finalists that we talked to, both were excellent candidates and it was a very tough decision, but we ended up recommending Lena based on not only her professional experience and her skills but also some of the choices she’s made in her resume where you can see she’s really pursued being a Director of Veterans Services as a career path,” Crane said.

Vellturo is a U.S. Army veteran and currently serves in a 747 Military Police Company in Ware.  She is new to Western Massachusetts, moving to the area only a few months ago.

“I’m very, very passionate about helping veterans and it makes me very excited to look forward to doing this,” Vellturo added, “I actually was at the senior center Wednesday and I got to meet a bunch of the veterans then and they’re a great group of people.”

Greenwood Pool
    Town Manager Stephen Crane brought the Greenwood Pool to the attention of the Select Board during Select Board comments.  Crane provided information regarding a $235,000 appropriation from the Community Preservation Act (CPA) to renovate the pool.

“The original scope and application was done by previous administration and Department of Public Works and when we had turned over we re-evaluated each capital project,” Crane added, “The process of dealing with the Greenwood Pool was a much larger scope of work which was why appropriation was so significant.”

The leaking of the Greenwood Pool had been a significant problem for a number of years, as tens of thousands of gallons of water was leaking from the pool.  Following the re-evaluation, it was found that a new approach could be taken.

 “They thought they had isolated the leak, and then there was additional leakage literally under the building.  It’s just one of those Pandora’s box type of projects,” Crane stated.

The Greenwood Pool was opened on Saturday, however considering the persistent leaks, follow up sealing of the pool is scheduled in the fall.

Longmeadow Street One-Way
    Board Member Marie Angelides brought up that directly in front of the Community House near the town green, the street has been made a one-way.  She asked Crane when the correct signage and markings would be made on the ground, as she believes it’s an eye-sore at the moment.

Crane stated that the town’s engineering department is developing a capital plan request for the next fiscal year to implement the improvements that have been designed for that one-way.

“It’s the orange stuff that prevents people from driving down the wrong way; it needs to be highly visible until we can do a physical improvement that prevents vehicles from going that way,” Crane said.

Converse Street Construction
    The Converse Street project had an original projection date to be finished in the spring of 2018.  Currently, the construction is ahead of schedule and it appears that the project will be complete in November.

“I said at the time, it’s going to be a rough summer for the people on Converse Street and those who use it to commute, and it has been.  By the end of it it’s going to be pedestrian and bike-friendly and it’s going to be a tremendous benefit to the community.  We just have to grind it out a little bit longer,” Crane said.

Long Range Master Plan Directive (LRP)
    The Select Board has formulated a letter that they will send to each of the town’s boards and committees in an effort to hear the group-specific goals and initiatives that they would like to see as apart of the town’s LRP.  In the letter, the Select Board asked the boards and committees to put this matter on their agendas to discuss.  

The Select Board is looking to have each boards’ and committees’ responses to this returned in writing by Nov. 1 so the board can review and decide on the next step of the LRP.

“Were going out to all of the appointed boards and committees and asking them to add to their agenda items and giving them a time frame of developing items that they would like to see included in the revised LRP.  By giving them a time frame, we thought that’d give us a chance to get some things done this year rather than stretch it all out,” Gold said.

Select Board Goal Setting
    A series of suggestions were made on how to increase the tax base in Longmeadow.  Lachiusa suggested a form of tax refund for home improvements.  This type of refund would increase property values, as homeowners would be encouraged to make improvements to their homes, which would then increase the home values.  Ideally, this would increase the tax base.

“This is a tool in the tool box.  It’s an idea, it’s a concept.  This is worth getting ore information and encouraging our professional staff to use this as a way to growing tax base and to increase the property values,” Angelides said.

When discussing fiscal issues Angelides said the town needs to decrease its operating budget by decreasing pension liabilities each year and decreasing the number of benefit positions to have a balanced budget.

“We need to start having some more long-term goals that will help us get out of the fiscal issues that we know we’re running into,” she added, “This is the time to put the smart goals in place.”