Town of Greenfield
7 Sawmill Road, Greenfield, NH 03047
Thursday, May 28, 2020 – 4:00 PM
Selectboard: Chairwoman Margaret Charig Bliss, Selectwoman Karen Day, Selectman Robert Marshall
Staff: Aaron Patt, Town Administrator; David Martin, EMD;
Documents for Review/Approval:
- Payroll Check Manifest – 5/29/2020
- Selectboard Minutes – 5/21/2020
Items for Discussion/Signature in the Public Session:
1. CARES AACT GOFERR GRANT - COVID19 Reimbursements
2. Complaint – Fire Department Signage
3. Local Rivers Management Nomination
4. Avitar Letter – Eversource/PSNH Assessment
5. Planning Board LLA for Library scheduled
5:30 PM: Virtual Meeting Open – Dial In 1+717-275-8940
The meeting was called to order at 5:30pm. Chairwoman Charig Bliss welcomed everyone to the virtual Selectboard meeting. Chairwoman Charig Bliss opened the meeting and read a statement provided by the Attorney General’s office regarding virtual meetings. “As Chair of the Selectboard, I find that due to the State of Emergency declared by the Governor as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with the Governor’s Emergency Order #12 pursuant to Executive Order 2020-04, this public body is authorized to meet electronically.
Please note that there is no physical location to observe and listen contemporaneously to this meeting, which was authorized pursuant to the Governor’s Emergency Order. However, in accordance with the Emergency Order, I am confirming that we are providing public access to the meeting by telephone. We are currently working on providing additional access possibilities by video or other electronic means, however, we are a small town and that is not feasible for tonight’s call.
We are utilizing Freeconference.com for this electronic meeting. All members of the Board have the ability to communicate contemporaneously during this meeting through this platform, and the public has access to contemporaneously listen and, if necessary, participate in this meeting through dialing the access number posted online or by following the directions on the Meeting Instructions link from the Selectboard’s page on the website. The Website address is greenfield-nh.gov.
We previously gave notice to the public of the necessary information for accessing the meeting, including how to access the meeting telephonically. If there are problems with access, please email the Town Administrator and he will attempt to help you in real time. In the event the public is unable to access the meeting, the meeting will be adjourned and rescheduled.
Please note that all votes that are taken during this meeting shall be done by roll-call vote.
Let’s start the meeting by taking a roll-call attendance. When each member states their presence, please also state whether there is anyone in the room with you during this meeting, which is required under the Right-to-Know law.
Each selectperson noted that they were alone. EMD David Martin is home alone.
The Chair stated: “at this point I would ask that everyone mute their phones by pressing * (star) 6 (six). If there isn’t time for your questions tonight, you can email the Town Administrator and request to be on the agenda during the next meeting. If you have technical difficulties on your end with your computer, laptop, or other electronic device email the Town Administrator if you having trouble connecting in real-time and we’ll try to be of help.
Gov. Sununu’s Emergency Order #16 prohibits gatherings greater than 10 people. We'll ask that - to the extent possible - you submit your questions/concerns/comments to the Town Administrator via email in advance so we can have answers ready. Remember to charge whatever device you are using in advance of the meeting. I can assure you everyone in your town government is doing everything in their capacity to ensure your safety, their safety and Greenfield's future. With that said, I would invite participants to bring issues before the Board.”
4:00 PM: Adel Hale, Resident
At 4:07pm, the Selectboard welcomed Adele Hale, resident to discuss the parking lot clean-up project behind the Russell parking lot on Route 136, next to the former Greenfield Auto building. The area behind the parking lot contains junk, scrap metals, barrels and other refuse from the past. Ms. Hale outlined her interest in pursuing a Land and Waters Conservation Grant for clean-up of this town property. The need to tie the grant proceeds to a recreation purpose was discussed. Ms. Hale stated that ultimately she felt that as the project is budgeted in the DPW Buildings & Grounds budget this year, and the recreation purpose was limited to the trailhead area, the LWCF grant might not be a good fit. However, Ms. Hale reported that she is interested in pursuing the project and wanted to be of help to fix up that property. Further discussion resolved that the Selectboard would revisit the project with the DPW Manager and provide an update to the community.
Select Board Business Meeting
At 4:35pm, the Selectboard Chair took up a letter of complaint from a resident regarding the Fire Department’s sign message. The message has since been updated, but the complaint focused on a previous message: “Stay at Home, Is this trip worth your life?” The complaint questioned the need for “this kind of rhetoric that perpetuates more fear amongst our citizens and scares children, especially during these uncertain times”. The letter asks the board whether it would be better to promote a positive message that is “uniting, uplifting or positive” rather than a message that is not “favorable to a healthy community”.
Selectman Marshall provided his feedback on the complaint and emphasized that the Board and the agents of town government have a unique responsibility to review constructive criticism about the town’s messaging, because in the future the Board should look back and reflect on the feedback. The messaging may not have the sensitivity needed when weighed against the sense of urgency that is felt when confronting [a pandemic]. He stated it is important that the Board and its agents not see the criticism as negative or baseless. “We need to learn from this as we move forward”.
The Selectboard agreed to send a letter to the resident in response to the complaint.
Next the Selectboard discussed recent minutes submitted by the Emergency Management Response Team (EMRT) for their most recent meeting. Selectman Marshall stated that a similar criticism about the most recent EDDM town-wide mailing is another example of constructive criticism that is important to take into consideration. Criticism from residents is not unwarranted and not baseless. “As we are employees of these people, we want their feedback”. He cited the criticism of the EDDM’s report of 15 Covid-19 cases in Greenfield, which is not reflected in the data that the State provides on the NH.GOV website. The conflict with State reporting could create credibility issues, at a time when trust in government is so important. Selectman Marshall stated that the opportunity for feedback should be taken as a positive.
Emergency Management Director stated that he was not in agreement with Selectman Marshall regarding the criticism leveled against the recent flyer. The EMRT reviewed the numbers and felt that their message was appropriate. A discussion followed on the EMRT minutes. EMD Martin stated that he received a request from a member of the public looking for their minutes and he has referred them to the Selectboard’s office. On further discussion it was agreed that the EMRT functioning under the Emergency Operations Plan, with an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) open is functioning like a committee of government and the meetings are not departmental in nature. As such the minutes should be posted to the website.
5:00 PM: David Martin, Emergency Management Director
At 5:00pm, Mr. Martin provided an update to the Selectboard on recent developments with the EOC. The State has provided 12 gallons of hand sanitizer. Mr. Martin is recommending that the Selectboard look into the purchase of non-contact thermometers. Mr. Martin discussed masks and the availability of masks from the State of New Hampshire. The State is no longer providing free masks. They can be purchased through the NH liquor stores. Mr. Martin stated that the town should have a stockpile of masks for employees and for residents who come to the Town Office. He strongly urged the Selectboard to consider a mask policy for the Town Office for the future. Such a policy would require masks for people who visit the facility. Mr. Martin explained some of the features that he has found helpful with masks including anti-fog solution for his glasses.
The Selectboard discussed the number of masks that the town should have on hand. Mr. Martin suggested that the town purchase 1000 masks. The Selectboard agreed.
Next, Mr. Martin outlined that the Hazard Mitigation Program (HMP) is ready for the Board to approve. After some discussion, Selectman Marshall made a motion to approve the HMP. The motion was seconded by Selectwoman Day. On a roll-call vote, the Selectboard voted 3-0 in favor of approving the Hazard Mitigation Program document. This concluded the meeting with the Emergency Management Director.
6:00 PM: Selectboard Business Meeting
The Chair read a letter from John Haley asking to be nominated to the Lakes and Rivers Management Committee. Selectman Marshall motioned to appoint Mr. Haley to the committee. Selectwoman Day seconded the motion. On a roll-call vote, the Board voted 3-0 in favor of the nomination.
Next the Chair reviewed a letter from Avitar Assessing asking that the Board send a letter of inquiry to Eversource requesting certain assessing data so that Avitar can finalize utility assessments under the new guidelines.
The Chair reviewed the Consent Agenda and the Payroll Manifest. On a motion by the Chair and a second by Selectwoman Day, the Board voted by roll-call vote to approve the Payroll Manifest 3-0 in favor.
Next the Chair moved that the Minutes of May 21st be accepted as presented. The motion was seconded by Selectman Marshall On a roll-call vote the Board voted 3-0 in favor of accepting the minutes.
Next, the Selectboard discussed a recent inquiry from the new owner of American Steel Fabricators relative to a building permit fee. The Board requested that Building Inspector Borden provide feedback on Greenfield’s commercial permit fees.
Next, the Selectboard discussed an inquiry from the owner of the Hungry Goat Eatery relative to signage on the Town Common. The Board deliberated and determined that more information was needed to provide permission for placement of signs on town property.
Selectman Marshall reviewed the recent estimate for repairs for the 6-wheel dump truck owned by the town. The quote was generated in response to the Board’s interest in comparing whether or not the town could continue to operate the vehicle it owns versus purchasing a new truck, as provided by Town Meeting (Warrant Article #11). The estimate for repairs is $52,000. This is more than the down payment associated with the new vehicle. A discussion followed. The Selectboard asked that the DRA provide answers to several budget questions including whether the Board can enter into a lease purchase agreement with a lower down payment in light of the pandemic and its potential impact on revenue.
In anticipation of Mr. Marshall joining the Conval Selectmen’s Advisory Committee’s Zoom meeting immediately following the Selectboard meeting, the Board adjourned.
At 6:46pm, Selectman Marshall made a motion to adjourn the meeting; the motion was seconded by the Chair. The motion carried 3-0 in a roll-call vote.