WILMINGTON — On Monday night, the Board of Selectmen received updates and correspondence on a range of topics from COVID to ice cream trucks. The meeting started with a private executive session, which was followed by the tabling of some old meeting minutes that were omitting or misquoting the board members.
The first update came from Angel Donahue-Rodriguez, Director of Special Projects for the MBTA, on the MBTA North Wilmington commuter rail station platform.
He said the proposed project will use some of the funds acquired by the state delegation but will cost about $500k total. This includes a platform, a walkway between the platform and the parking lot, and a fence between the walkway and the tracks. He doesn’t expect construction to get started before spring 2021, partly because the MBTA can’t start new construction in winter.
Several board members and state delegation members agreed that starting before spring 2021 would be preferable. Jomarie O’Mahony shared her appreciation that the project would use recycled materials.
“That wouldn’t have happened without the innovation of the team at MBTA,” Senator Tarr added.
The board didn’t need to take any action on this item.
Under the COVID-19 update, Board of Health Director Shelly Newhouse shared that the town has six positive cases and two in quarantine.
Some new things that have come up include travel quarantine notifications, which she expects only to increase through the summer, along with complaints about people and businesses not complying with masks or other town or state guidance.
Police Chief Cavanaugh mentioned the town has received over $313,000 from the CARES Act fund for coronavirus spending. He added the town has plenty of PPE in case it becomes necessary to give out more masks.
While she was still on the call, Kevin Caira asked the health director about a couple of items that would come up later — an application for a license for an ice cream truck, and a request to have a car wash in the 4th of July building parking lot. Newhouse answered the board could advise both of these requests to contact her, although one was already required because it needed a food permit.
Jomarie O’Mahony asked Newhouse if the state counts by number of tests or by number of people tested — as in, if someone gets tested more than once do they count as many times as they’re tested — and Newhouse said it’s by tests.
Town Manager Jeff Hull ended this item by thanking Newhouse and Cavanaugh for the extra work they’ve personally taken on during this pandemic.
A number of communications were addressed at this point. The first regarded an opportunity presented by Town Accountant Brian Perry to restructure some of the long-term debt for the high school. He said this would save the town about $2.5 million, or $155,000 per year. The board expressed satisfaction at the idea of alleviating debt and making room for upcoming projects on the Facilities Master Plan.
The next communication explained that local aid for fiscal year 2021 would not be less than fiscal year 2020. While Hull said this is good news, he also mentioned that he wouldn’t be surprised if other cuts come in later this year given the state of the economy.
O’Mahony had sparked the following communication at the previous meeting. Her intent was for the board to reconsider and identify opportunities for board designees and recommended residents serving on different town committees.
For example, she shared how former Selectman Mike McCoy is serving as the board designee and current Selectman Gary DePalma is serving as a resident on the inhabitant by-law committee, and supposed they be switched. The board agreed to invite all of the committees to present and to share what spots need to be filled at a future meeting.
After a 10-minute recess, the board discussed a proposition started by Selectman Greg Bendel for training programs from KP Law. They eventually decided they’d like to sponsor the trainings on the effects of technology on public records and open meeting laws, private ways vs. public ways, conflict of interest, and conducting a flawless public hearing.
However, they voted to leave the choice and the schedule of trainings up to the Town Manager according to what seminars would be offered.
The Town Clerk, Christine Touma-Conway, came onto the call to talk about her two communications. The first regarded the state primary election on Sept. 1 with early voting from Aug. 22-28. She shared that the town has received more than 3,500 applications for early ballots and has mailed out over 3,300 so far. She cited 2016 and 2012 turnouts of 4.9 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively, to show that mail-in ballots have significantly increased turnout this year.
Touma-Conway’s other item was a suggestion to relocate the Nov. 3 election polling locations to the Shriner’s auditorium, which has significantly more space than all three normal polling locations combined. The board’s only concern about changing the location would be letting residents know about it. Touma-Conway offered that the town could send a postcard to every voting household and post signs at each regular polling location in case anyone showed up there.
Caira added the CARES Act could pay for the money to send out the postcards.
The board went on to vote in favor of an agreement with Olin Chemical for the installation of a water main from Main Street to Cook Avenue.
The construction proposed would tentatively begin in April and conclude in July.
They approved the addition of election workers and signed the warrant for the Sept. 1 primary election. They also approved the queuing of a patriotic rolling parade for the 75th anniversary of V-J day, lighting up the town common gold in observance of childhood cancer awareness through September, the renaming of ATI Realty LLC to 100 Eames St. LLC, and the hawk and peddle license for the ice cream truck Tony’s Ice Cream.
When it came time to recommend a board member designee to the committees to recommend OPMs for the town hall/school administration building and the senior center, they voted in Bendel for the senior center and Caira for the town hall/school administration building.
They also voted in favor to allow the Town Manager to keep the authority to approve the use of outdoor spaces upon request until Sept. 14.
The final item of the night was the approval for incoming freshman Alex Kennedy to use the 4th of July parking lot for a car wash. Since all of the shows that Kennedy was supposed to star in this year were canceled, Hull said that he’s raising money for the licensing and incidental expenses to put on his own show. Requiring that Kennedy reach out to Newhouse, they approved this request.
With no announcements or new business, the board introduced significant dates and a new weekly agenda item called “salute to service” where they will recognize a local veteran or member of active military. The next Board of Selectmen meeting will be in person on Sept. 14.