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Ashland selectmen decide against moving police station

June 10, 2021
ASHLAND — The June 7 Ashland selectmen's meeting in the conference room in the Utility Building was the first attended by all five selectmen in person since they switched to Zoom meetings during the pandemic last year, and the first meeting attended by Fred Welch as the newly appointed Town Manager. The selectmen narrowly decided to not move the Police Department to the Town Garage/Utility Building. They also discussed other issues, such as a proposed policy on idling town vehicles, repairs to the Fire Station foundation, the mask mandate, and the Fourth of July celebration.

Town Manager Welch asked the selectmen to decide on the proposed move of the Police Department to the Town Garage and Utility Building, as all changes to town buildings require their approval. The Police Department now has cramped quarters in the Town Hall, which it shares with the Town and Utility Offices. There is no place to park the police vehicles indoors. The previous Town Manager and selectmen were

considering moving the Police station to the Utility Building where they would have two bays to keep their cruisers inside. The discussion quickly involved the somewhat controversial decision to move the utility clerks from the Utility Building to the Town Hall, as some selectmen wanted to move them back from the Town Offices to the former

utility office. Selectman Alan Cilley made a motion, seconded by Robert Letourneau, to not move the police station to the Utility Building at this time. The discussion revolved around two points of view. It was pointed out that the Town office was not ADA compliant and that the available space in the Town Hall for the town and utility offices was now too crowded, forcing people to wait outside the building. Selectman Andrew Fitch suggested that moving the Police Department out of the Town Hall would create more space for the utility office there and that the Town Hall could be made ADA

compliant. In the end, three selectmen, Cilley, Letourneau and Ann Barney voted in favor of the motion, while Fitch and Chairman Eli Badger voted against it. Badger pointed out that computer system changes would have to be made to the Utility Building to accommodate the systems now used by the utilities if the utility clerks returned

to their former quarters. The town is now waiting for estimates for those changes.

Town Manager Welch had presented the Selectmen with a No Idle Policy, which would require town employees to turn off town vehicles instead of leaving them idling, saving money and reducing the environmental impact. Objections were raised about police cruisers on duty and snowplows in the winter, when idling is necessary, but Welch stated that those situations were covered by the exceptions written into the policy. In the end, the selectmen voted 3 to 2 to table the proposed policy for now.

The Town Manager reported that there were a number of holes in the Fire Station foundation. Since the building expense lines of the separate departments were combined into a town wide building expense line in the 2021 budget, the selectmen would have to decide to fund the repairs to the foundation. They all agreed that the repairs had to be made, but wanted to wait for an estimate of the costs.

The selectmen voted unanimously to open all Town buildings to the public and to end the mask mandate in them. Barney pointed out that anyone who wanted a vaccination for Covid could now easily get one. Anyone who wishes to continue wearing a mask in Town buildings is free to do so.

Welch reported that he had reviewed the plans for the Fourth of July celebration, found them in order and had signed the necessary documents such as vendor permits. The proposed road race on North Ashland Road on July 4 will have to be approved by the Selectmen, so it will be on the agenda for their next meeting.

Public Works Director Craig Moore asked for and got the selectmen's approval for the relocation of a wooden light pole near the Common Man Restaurant as part of the Main Street sidewalk project. The selectmen approved the updated version of the Town Investment Policy. Cilley asked that the applications for the Finance Officer position be sent to all the selectmen, and was told that would be done the next day. The selectmen reappointed Mardean Badger as one of two Ashland representatives to the Lakes Region Planning Commision. (Eli Badger abstained from that vote.) The second LRPC representative position remains open, so volunteers are welcome. The selectmen ended their meeting with a non-public session.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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