Select Board considers special town meeting to OK fire truck purchase

By Karen Zuppinger

The Chester Select Board agreed last Wednesday to consider holding a special town meeting to allow voters to decide whether to allocate $250,000 for a new fire truck. The Chester Fire Department hopes to get approval for the truck now, but pay for it in 2014, thereby saving the town about $10,000.

Det. Matt Wilson, who is also a firefighter, came before the board to request the special town meeting after he learned that 2014 models would be subject to new federal guidelines governing diesel engines that would add several thousands of dollars to the vehicle cost. The capital item is not included in the 2013 capital budget request that will come before town voters at the Monday, March 4, annual Town Meeting.

Wilson added that the town could also receive a repeat customer discount from the truck builder, thereby saving another $24,000.

Town Manager David Pisha said that he thought that the savings made it worth calling a special town meeting.

If town voters were to approve the truck purchase, the manufacturer would put the plans in the pipeline for construction this year with delivery and payment in 2014.

Select Board member Tom Bock asked if the town could postpone the vote. “The discount price is available for 40 days,” Wilson said, “And that 40-day period expires on March 14th..”

Chairman John DeBenedetti asked about the future of the current engine. Wilson explained that the truck isn’t worth much in trade. “I think that the company would offer us about $9,000 (in buy-back).” But, he added, “We would benefit more from keeping it and using it as a water truck. The town (property owners) receives a discount through our insurance by having such a truck on hand.” He added that whenever there are new buildings or renovations, insurance companies call “the fire department to see if we have enough water resources on hand to combat potential fires.”

Flooding in Mountain View

Jake Arace speaks to the Select Board about the continuing problem of flooding in the Mountain View neighborhood.

Jake Arace speaks to the Select Board about the continuing problem of flooding in the Mountain View neighborhood.

In other action, resident Jake Arace came before the Select Board once again regarding flooding on his and his neighbors’ property on Mountain View Road. He has approached the board several times concerning the issue, the first being Nov. 16, 2011. Arace said that after the most recent rain and melting snow his property again experienced flooding and standing water in his basement and in his garage, which freezes, causing the concrete floor to crack.
At issue is the inadequate street drainage near his home, right off Route 103 South.
Arace also presented photographs documenting the damage.
Board member Tom Bock recalled that years ago the town had tried to solve the problem with dry wells, but that ground water has risen into the wells. Arace added that the wells now are clogged.
DeBenedetti reiterated that an engineering study would be conducted to see what could be done to solve the problem, which could include vacuuming the drains. He added that this doesn’t help the community in the short term, but that it was all the town could afford to do at this time.
Board member Derek Suursoo then suggested that Arace may have legal recourse if the previous owner had not disclosed the problem when he purchased the property about 18 months ago.
Arace responded that the drainage issue had not been disclosed, but that since he bought the property from his mother-in-law, legal recourse was not an option. Later, Arace said that his mother-in-law had said that there was not a problem when she was living there.

Fall Festival on the Green dates set

Chester Rotary club representatives Malcolm Summers and Nancy Rugg received permission from the Select Board to use the Green for the 2013 Fall Festival from 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20th to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22.

As it did last year, the Rotary will be allowed to close off traffic all the Common to all but business owners, residents and those with special needs and prevent parking on both sides of Main Street bordering the Green.

Summers said that these measures greatly added to the safety of patrons, including those in wheelchairs.

Parking again will be provided behind Newsbank.

Michael Alon of DaVallia Art and Accents, located on the Green, expressed his concern that he was one business owner who was not notified in advance that the Common would be closed. “Our store does about one-fifth of its business during this time of year. We were fine. But it would have been nice to have notice before the decision was made.”

Summers, who had asked Alon to attend the Select Board meeting, said, “We had a group of volunteers going around door to door informing business owners and residents of our plans. Unfortunately because it was our first year and we were all new to this somehow Michael fell through the cracks. It was an oversight on our part and I apologize.”

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