By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Department heads and the town manager gave reports to the town council Tuesday night at the Fall forum held at the Robert A. DeLeo Senior Center. Department heads were given two-minutes to summarize their work done since the forum held last Spring. The council, as directed in the town charter, holds the forums twice a year to keep residents up-to-date with town services.
First up was Superintendent of Schools John Macero. He stressed that the biggest area that has to be addressed is technology and he urged the town to make the necessary investments to keep the school system up to date.
Next, Fire Chief Paul Flanagan shared the town’s new fire engine and fire boat, but his biggest point was the need for a new fire station.
“The last time one was built in this town was when McKinley was President,” he said, adding it cost only $12,000. Flanagan estimated a new station would cost much more that. He also noted that the fire apparatus does not fit in the building and they are currently using a storage pod.
In the police department, Police Chief Terence Delehanty said things have been going well with the “Coffee with a Cop” program, bike rodeo, and with the Explorer post. He noted that the town’s police are combatting the opiate epidemic with officers trained on Narcan and the department’s work with recovery coaches for those with addiction problems.
“A lady came up to me the other night and thanked us for helping her son (an addict) and that he was doing well,” Delehanty said.
The department is in need of new police cruisers, but Delehanty said it is also time to invest in non-lethal weapons such as Tasers.
In the Department of Public Works, Director Steve Calla shared that the radio-readable meters are moving along and all 4,500 accounts should have them by 2017. The department has also been working on major water main projects, they revitalized French Square and completed the Mariana Fabiano accessible playground.
In the Facilities Department, manager Richard Cifuni explained how they have been working on the restoration of the cupola on Town Hall. They have also replaced 11 of the 16 large windows at the police station and implemented a new maintenance program in the school department.
Nancy Williams, director of the senior center and Council on Aging, said the 24-year-old building is in need of some upgrades. So far they have replaced a freezer and ice maker, installed automatic doors for easier access, painted and replaced blinds. They have also implemented a new check-in system. Williams said they will also need to replace some toilets that are too low. The heating and cooling systems on the roof also need to be replaced.
In the Inspectional Services Department, director Al Legee said they have worked on building and zoning enforcement , including houseboat regulations, Air BnB issues, illegal apartments and restaurant inspections. Hoarding and mental health issues are something also being worked on, said Public Health Nurse Meredith Hurley.
At the ice rink, Director Bob DiMento said they have replaced the compressor and motor for the ice, repaired heaters and painted.
In the library, Director Diane Wallace said they have been working on updating the collection, catalog records and building issues.
“The building has issues and needs updating,” she said.
In other town hall departments it was reported that over $500,000 in grants have come in. There have also be software upgrades in the finance department, the treasurer’s office and assessor’s office. The town clerk’s office is also work on the preservation of vital records.
In the Veteran’s Services department, Veteran’s Agent Roseann Trionfi-Mazzuchelli announcedthat the department is in the process of replacing flags and they are looking for the donation of flags to be used outside. She has 50 families participating in the food bank and 200 claims have been made for veteran’s benefits.
Town Manager James McKenna said he is working
on the three M’s – “management, motivation and moving” the community forward. With that in mind he stated that future projects are in the works, primarily Lewis Lake, the Belle Isle Marine Ecology Park and the Center business revitalization.
“There has been a dramatic restoration and moving forward of the community,” said Town Council Peter Gill, who attended his last fall forum in a professional capacity because he is not seeking re-election to the council.