TEWKSBURY — The Board of Selectmen met Tuesday to make new committee assignments and hear about the town’s plan for snow removal in winter of 2019.
The Department of Public Works received a request for removal of a red oak tree at 3 Darby St. from resident Robert Lee. Lee indicated that he thought the tree was hazardous, having almost been hit by a falling branch. DPW director Brian Gilbert, a certified arborist, said the tree was healthy and there was no need for removal; he said that pruning and branch removal could help make the tree safer. It is unclear on whose property the tree sits, so the issue went to the board for a decision.
“I don’t feel comfortable with my quality of life, knowing that a branch could come down at any time,” said Lee.
Abutter Joseph Derose opposed the removal of the tree because he believes it to be healthy and safe, and benefits from the shade of the tree. The board voted unanimously to not remove the tree. Gilbert will oversee the pruning of the tree.
Gilbert presented the town’s snow removal for sidewalks plan. This year, the town will be purchasing a third sidewalk snow tractor. Gilbert noted there is no bylaw that requires homeowner and businesses to clear sidewalks; however, the selectmen floated the idea of sending out a mailer requesting business owners to be stewards of the sidewalks for their customers’ sake.
He also mentioned that the DPW is working to move away from salt and sand treatments to preserve sidewalks. The DPW clears 19 miles of sidewalks; Gilbert said that the goal of the department after a snowstorm is to have all major walkways cleared within 32 hours of a storm.
Resident Carol Marquis raised concerns over a lack of sidewalk treatments and discussed the dangers slippery sidewalks can pose to older residents; Gilbert explained that salt can make the sidewalks more slippery, and in fluctuating weather conditions, it can be safer to allow the ice to dry naturally.
She also asked about sending a mailer to residents to ask for their help in shoveling smaller side streets for older residents; board member Jayne Wellman Miller suggested using the CodeRED safety alert telephone system instead of a paper mailing.
The board discussed volunteer board and committee appointments from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. Letters were sent to current volunteer members asking if they wished to be reappointed to their boards. The board voted to reappoint all committee members who wanted to continue to serve. The board will be posting openings for vacancies for the next two weeks.
The board addressed its own committee assignments. Miller was appointed to be the Tewksbury representative to the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments. Mark Kratman stepped off the Beautification Committee and was appointed to the Zoning Bylaw Committee. Miller was also appointed to the Beautification Committee. Jay Kelly was appointed to the Community Preservation Committee. Brian Dick was appointed to the Athletic Field Use Committee.
The board briefly discussed a recommendation from a resident to change the name “Board of Selectmen” to “Select Board.” Dozens of communities across the Commonwealth have chosen to adopt the more gender-neutral option. Such a change would most likely come about as a result of a non-binding vote in a town election.
The board approved bond anticipation notes for the streetlight conversion project.
The board approved town counsel invoices.
The next meeting is scheduled for June 4, 2019.