Saturday, April 19, 2014
By Keith Edwards email@example.com
FARMINGDALE — Selectmen promised residents who packed the town office Wednesday they will not buy a sand and salt shed that was rejected at the recent annual town meeting.
Doug Ebert, who was elected by his fellow selectmen as chairman earlier Wednesday, gave his word the town would not buy the property, nor would selectmen call for a special town meeting to propose the purchase.
“It is very clear to selectmen that you guys don’t want the town to own a sand and salt shed,” Ebert told the crowd that filled nearly every chair of the town-office meeting room and whose cars over-filled the parking lot.
“You’ve spoken, you said no. The town will not own one. We believe it could potentially save in the contract price (for sand and salt), but we won’t know that, because we’re not going to have a sand salt area, plain and simple.”
Resident Linda Leet pressed Ebert for even more assurance, because she said she heard rumors selectmen were going to buy the site anyway, despite voters rejection of the proposal at the annual Town Meeting Saturday.
Ebert said he can’t promise someone won’t propose the purchase again in the future, but gave his word selectmen would not call for a special town meeting to consider the purchase.
The rejected town meeting article asked the town to authorize selectmen to negotiate a contract up to $85,000, plus survey and closing costs, to buy a four-acre plot that has a state-approved sand and salt shed on it.
The parcel is owned by Bruce Ellis, and Ellis Construction, the firm that held the most recent plowing contract with the town. The firm stores salt and sand the company uses for the town.
Ebert, who said more people were at the meeting Wednesday than any other in his two years on the board, said he had heard from residents who suggested they had been deceived and the sand and salt property had not been approved by the state. So Ebert read a letter from a Department of Environmental Protection official stating the site is approved. He said a second site in town, owned by E.C. Barry & Sons, is also an approved site.
Russell Hubbard, who had asked to be put on the selectmen’s agenda to request the resignation of Selectman David Sirois, according to Town Clerk Phyllis Weeks, said he’d decided not to make that request and put his support solidly behind Ebert.
“I take this man at his word, and I support him,” Hubbard said of Ebert.
At a selectmen’s meeting two weeks ago, residents Hubbard, Rudy Martin, and two other men loudly and frequently criticized Sirois regarding town personnel issues.
And Sirois had a heated exchange with Weeks, who is retiring at the end of the month, regarding her work for the town.
Also at that June 12 meeting, Martin called Sirios and Rickey McKenna, former chairman of the selectmen who lost his bid for reelection as a selectmen last week, scumbags. Sirois responded, “bring it,” and motioned for Martin to come forward.
Sirois and McKenna walked out of that meeting about 30 minutes after it had started.
Wednesday, Martin said he was embarrassed by the language he used two weeks ago but said he was upset at how Weeks and former Deputy Clerk Deborah Barry were treated by selectmen.
He also said he had been told by a different DEP official than the one cited by Ebert the sand and salt shed did not have a permit by rule and the DEP was going to send an investigator to the site.
Resident Jo-Ann Choate said she was impressed with how selectmen handled themselves Wednesday and she hopes it continues. She gave them a list of more than a dozen concerns and rumors she said were going around town and asked selectmen to address them. Many of them concerned how the town chooses contractors for road and other projects, an issue for many years.
“I make a recommendation we resolve these issues and we have transparency and tranquility in this town,” Choate said. “So people feel this town is looking out for their behalf, which hasn’t always been the case. I’ll be back to follow through.”
Keith Edwards — 621-5647