Select Board OKs business loan for carver Pinske, bond amount for portion of gravel pit restoration

By Shawn Cunningham

Pinski at Select board

Wood carver Barre Pinske, who has been working toward expanding his business for a year, comes before the Select Board for the second time seeking a loan approval. /Photo by Shawn Cunningham

While the Chester Select Board had a quorum of three for its Wednesday, Aug. 7 meeting, the absence of two members who had attended the July 17 meeting combined with the presence of one member who had not lead to complications in completing an economic development loan discussed at that previous meeting.

The application to the Chester Development Fund by carver Barre Pinske for a loan to help with the purchase of an industrial milling machine for increased production of wooden bear statues was discussed in open and executive sessions on July 17. The five-year loan — for $12,000 at 3.25 percent for the first year and adjustable after — was presented for a vote last Wednesday. But board member Derek Suursoo, who had been absent from the July 17 meeting, had planned to abstain from the decision. Without Suursoo’s vote, the loan would have been postponed to the Aug. 21 meeting.

A frustrated Pinske explained that the loan process had taken up a lot of time and involved delays. Pinske said that he had started in the the fall with small business consultant Deb Boudrieau, then worked in the winter with Bob Flint of the Springfield Regional Development Corp. and this spring with the Chester Economic Development Corp. , which advises the Select Board on business loans. He added that it would be nice if the board “could get going with a vote tonight.”

“I’m completely out of bears right now,” Pinske said. “If I had the machine right now, I’d be making more.” He added that the installation of the machine would mean taking a portion of his Depot Street building apart and he would like to get going on it as soon as possible before the weather makes if difficult.

The board understood Pinske’s frustration, but Suursoo said he could not vote without knowing the whole story. Board member Bill Lindsay wondered if the details discussed previously could be discussed in an executive session so the board could move forward. At 8:19 p.m., the Select Board moved downstairs to town offices for an executive session with Pinske.

I could get a loan from other people, but I wanted to go through the process to see how it worked. … If I had worked (making bears) for the time I put into the (loan) process, I’d have the money in my pocket now.
Carver Barre Pinske

While the board deliberated privately, Pinske returned upstairs in Town Hall, where he explained that he has been promoting the Route 103 corridor for arts-based businesses, sending out notices of available properties and telling artists about the town and the development fund. “I could get a loan from other people,” Pinske said, “but I wanted to go through the process to see how it worked.” Saying that it moved slowly, Pinske noted, “If I had worked (making bears) for the time I put into the (loan) process, I’d have the money in my pocket now.”

When the board returned at 8:43 p.m., Suursoo made the motion that the loan be made, but adding a mortgage deed (using Pinske’s building as collateral) in addition to the promissory note and security agreement that the board had suggested in the previous meeting. Pinske objected, saying that the machine should be collateral enough. Chairman John DeBenedetti agreed – referring to the loss the town took on a loan to a now-closed restaurant – saying he did not “see the benefit of being behind the bank.”

Even though DeBenedetti agreed with Pinske, the motion to use Pinske’s building as collateral  and the loan passed 3-0.

Bond for proposed gravel pit restoration

In other business, Jeremy Brodney and Kevin Morton came before the board to discuss the amount needed for a performance bond that would ensure that restoration work on the gravel pit proposed for the Eddy Farm on Potash Brook Road would be done. The question was what bond amount to require for restorative work on excavation that could be taking place as much as 20 years in the future. After a detailed discussion of the four phases of work and the size of each of the phases, a motion was made and passed to require a $2,500 bond for Phase A and to ask a representative of the Eddy family to re-approach the town at the end of that phase to negotiate the bond value for the next phase.

Vendor permit granted, but not necessary

The board also took up a vendor permit a food truck to be operated at Chester Hardware by Michael Kennedy. Gianina Kennedy spoke on behalf of the business, which is to be operated five days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 or 7 p.m. She reported that Matt McCarthy of the Recreation Department had approached them about operating at the old ballfields on Route 103 since the previous snack shack had been washed away in Tropical Storm Irene. They would not however operate at the Pinnacle since the stand that’s there now supports the operations of the Rec Department.

DeBenedetti pointed out that the hardware store and softball fields are private property and the town’s vendor permit only covers businesses that are operated on town property. Chairman DeBenedetti asked if the Kennedys wanted to vend on the Green and Kennedy said that was not in their plans. Julie Hance, assistant to the town manager, retrieved the ordinance from the town office and confirmed that it was not applicable to this situation. After more discussion of whether the ordinance should be changed to make it necessary to get a permit to vend on private property as well, Suursoo moved to grant the permit and that passed 3-0.

Bill Lindsay suggested that this ordinance needed to be reviewed so the Select Board would not have to go through this again.

The board also decided it would prefer to be at full strength to review Chapter 7 (Administration and Enforcement) of the proposed Unified Development Bylaws, postponing the session until the first meeting in September with a goal of sending the bylaws back to Planning Commission for its meeting on the third Monday of that month.

During the public comment time, Lister Wanda Purdy noted that the town needs three listers and currently has only two. Lister is a part-time paid position and anyone interested in applying should contact town hall.

The town is also seeking a representative for the regional Transportation Advisory Committee. Anyone interested in serving on behalf of Chester should contact Town Manager David Pisha

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