Council Looks Beyond Pandemic

While the virtual Town Council meeting on Tuesday, March 24, was understandably dominated by concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus, members were also able to address normal business items impacting the community.

-The Central Business District (CBD) Redesign

A resident from Precinct 6 called with concerns regarding French Square. French Square is being transformed into a parking lot to accommodate the displaced vehicles that will result from construction in the CBD. Anita said she objected to the square being turned into a parking lot, claiming that it had once been a sacred Native American burial ground and that it had old-growth trees.

“Poor decisions have been made over the years,” said the caller. “Please find alternatives to cutting down trees in the park and don’t turn it into a parking lot.”

Town Manager Austin Faison said that the Town had conducted an environmental impact study on the site and that the engineers had been in touch with different tribal organizations that expressed interest in the project. It was decided that an archaeologist will be on the site during the construction.

Faison also said that the trees currently in French Square are only 10 to 15 years old and not old-growth trees as the caller had claimed.

Gov. Baker has stated that he wants infrastructure construction work to continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Town is still expecting to break ground on the project on April 6.

-Transfer of Funds

Council voted to authorize the purchase of equipment for the Department of Public Works. This included a new F-750 dump truck for $40,663, a new John Deere backhoe for $26,225, and a new John Deere 544K front end loader for $42,214.

A request to transfer $35,400 from the Special Revenue Fund #520/Technology Grant to fund the second of a three-year software agreement with OpenGov was postponed until the next meeting. According to its website, OpenGov is an “integrated cloud solution for budgeting, performance, communications and reporting.”

-Committee Reports

The Finance Committee has been meeting remotely and has recommended favorable action on the aforementioned equipment purchases.

The newly reassembled School Building Assistance Committee met for a second time. It voted to approve the purchase of four Clorox steam-cleaning machines to help keep the schools sanitized.

The Public Safety Committee is postponing its meetings until after sequestering.

The Miller Field Committee dedication ceremony has been postponed until the fall, but work is still being completed and is around 95 percent finished.

-Upcoming Events

On Thursday, March 26,  Town officials will be meeting remotely with the project team for the CBD, including contractors and engineers.

The Town’s budget presentation was originally slated for March 24, but has been postponed until April.

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