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Board of Selectmen Special Meeting Minutes w/attachment 08/22/2017

The Board of Selectman held a Special Meeting at 8:00 am on August 22, 2017 in the Meeting Hall of the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall. First Selectman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal and Selectman Skip Sibley were present.

  • Approval of Minutes:
August 7, 2017 Regular Meeting Minutes
A motion was made by Selectwoman Nosal, seconded by Selectman Sibley, to approve the minutes of the August 7, 2017 meeting. Motion passed.
  • Communication:  None
  • Appointments:  None                 
4.   Old Business:
  • Boathouse Hains Park Improvements Project
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported she did not have an update on the Boathouse. However, she did report she had spoken with Don Bugbee the Director of the Parks and Rec Department and he let her know that Bob Dunn is interested in taking over the Bathroom project and he supports this transition. First Selectman Reemsnyder has not had a chance to reach out to Bob yet but she intends to have a conversation with him soon. She has spoken with the co-chairs of the Boathouse project to make sure they are comfortable with this and they are both in support of Bob Dunn heading this committee and they feel this is a natural transition. Selectman Sibley also agreed this is a natural transition and supports a new committee be formed with a good cross section of people.
Selectwoman Nosal asked why Parks and Rec had changed their minds as they had publicly expressed they were not interested in leading this project. She would like to make sure they have a formal charge before moving forward to include; a timeline, budget, guidelines and frequent updates to ensure everyone is on the same page.
First Selectman Reemsnyder added that the contractor will be reseeding the grass on the boathouse lawn in the middle of September.
Selectwoman Nosal requested an update on the fundraising. Selectman Sibley reported they are no longer actively fundraising but are continuing to collect pledges that were made. In total, they have raised approximately $108,000 with over $50,000 being raised during phase II. He added that all of the expenses for the fundraiser were donated by the committee which included Candice Fuchs, Greg Hack and himself.   He reminded everyone that these funds will be used for projects outside the scope of work which may include a gazebo, picnic tables, etc. He also mentioned they are still in the process of planning for the plaque (may have this designed by Sophie Marsh) and where to put it so that everyone can enjoy it. They are hoping to have this completed by early fall and would like to get feedback from the new committee. The fundraising total has been reported to the BHPIC and has been shared with the Finance Director.
First Selectman Reemsnyder clarified that the remaining funds from the boathouse project and what has been budgeted for this year would not go towards a gazebo unless they went to a town meeting (if above $20,000) or the BOF (below $20,000), as that was not within the original scope .
  • Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported she has received an update from WMC for the repairs to the paving on Hartford Ave. from Bocce Lane to Pond Road. They will repave the entire area with some milling being done to make the corrections needed. This will be completed so as not to exceed the original estimate they had proposed as approved by the DOT. First Selectman Reemsnyder will be contacting WMC to confirm this and will report back to the BOS.
Selectwoman Nosal would like to schedule a meeting with Ed Steward to review the repaving portion and make sure the scheduled repairs don’t conflict with upcoming events that are planned for Sound View.
They will try to schedule a special meeting for later this week or early next week (tentatively Tuesday). Selectman Sibley would like to see an update showing the credits/costs and a summary of where they are to date. He felt there were a lot of change orders during this project and they were kept at arm’s length.
First Selectman Reemsnyder clarified they were aware of each step in the process and the BOS did indeed vote to approve the addition to the paving on Hartford Ave. She also noted the only change orders were on the HDE Piping and the Paving of Hartford Ave., with some changes in quantities of materials used during the project, which is an expected adjustment with DOT projects.

  • Academy Lane Fire Dock Update
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported the fire department has been down to test the fire dock twice, once during high tide and once during low tide and had excellent results which exceeded their expectations on both visits. She added that the final payment has been made to Machnick Brothers, less the retainage. They are still waiting to see if there is any additional invoicing from the engineer. Once that is all in place she will report to the BOS. She added that they are under budget and she will report the final budget at the next BOS meeting.

  • Blight Ordinance Draft
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported they had a special meeting on August 8th and she will get the minutes of that meeting to the selectmen so they can approve those minutes at the next BOS meeting. She has received the updated draft with the BOS comments taken into consideration from Keith Rosenfeld and has forwarded that onto the Town Attorney. She will report back when she receives feedback.

  • LED Streetlight conversion update
First Selectman Reemsnyder reminded everyone she had originally signed an agreement for design approval and fixtures to be used back in June and has sent in the initial fee.  In the meantime, the manufacturer of the chosen fixtures (Phillip’s) have come out with a new model which is even more cost effective, eliminates the need for dimmers and will help the qualification for a rebate from Eversource. This will additionally reduce the pay back on the fixtures to under three years versus a little over three years. However, they will not begin manufacturing them until Sept. 15th which will delay installation to October. She will follow up with the committee with these changes. The BOS discussed replacing any lights that are out before the new installation takes place.

5.  New Business:
  • Cross Lane Playground Committee appointments
First Selectman Reemsnyder reviewed the draft charge of the committee which is to oversee the installation of the ADA accessible playground at Cross Lane Park as it was presented by the “Love Your Playground” committee of the Jr. Women’s League. At a minimum, this will include approval of the process followed by the “Love your Playground” Committee, review and approve project scope, confirm cost estimates as reported to the BOS and BOF, develop a budget and budget reports, plan and implement pre-installation and site preparation, oversee the final installation of the equipment and fencing and other tasks as needed. The committee must meet all FOI requirements with respect to the posting of agendas and minutes. The committee should provide regular updates to the BOS and Park & Rec Commission.
She added she currently has three applications for the committee -  Anna Reiter, Missy Garvin (also on the Park & Rec. Comm.) and Meghan Anderson, all of whom are on the current Love Your Playground committee.
The BOS went on to discuss the charge and suggested that the committee review and approve the process, adding a date the BOS and BOF approvals, reaching out through the bulletin for other interested members, making Don Bugbee an ex-officio on the committee along with  having the Director of Finance attending at least the first meeting. The BOS agree the committee should be made up of five members’ and they will vote on appointments at the next meeting.

  • Governor’s Emergency Budget cuts
First Selectman Reemsnyder clarified that the budget the Governor has released is an emergency budget that will happen if the legislature does not pass a budget soon. She printed this out for the selectmen so they could see what is happening with other communities, along with a summary of Old Lyme. She reminded everyone that back in the spring when they were planning the budget they took into consideration the state’s financial situation and budgeted conservatively. The BOS discussed the 2017 FY state funding using the example of the ECS funding they budgeted for and the amount they received, funding through surplus and continuing to find ways to save money. First Selectman Reemsnyder will keep a close eye on this and keep the BOS updated on any changes.

6.   Public Comment: None
7.   Other Business:
Selectman Sibley prepared some remarks he would like entered into the minutes and read a prepared statement (see attached).
First Selectman Reemsnyder refuted his comment about this being political and stated this has nothing to do with the upcoming November election.
Selectwoman Nosal added that she was concerned that Selectman Sibley, although very supportive of this project had so many concerns that he voted to abstain on the vote at the last meeting. Selectman Sibley clarified that an abstention is used to convey that there is not enough information to cast a vote.
8.   Executive Session: None    

9.   Adjournment:
A motion was made by Selectman Sibley, seconded by Selectwoman Nosal, to adjourn at 9:00 am. Motion passed.
Respectfully submitted,
Patti Broedlin

Attachment (statement from Skip Sibley):
At our last Board of Selectmen meeting on August 7, this board approved the expenditure of approximately $100-k to authorize the purchase of new playground equipment for Cross Lane. During that meeting, we dedicated approximately an hour of discussion mostly due to the many questions I had on specifics. Anna Reiter from the Jr. Women’s League did her best to answer. At the conclusion of that discussion, there was a vote by the Board to move ahead with the purchase order. Two in favor and one abstention from me.
Normally I’m very excited about projects that improve things for the Town. It was very troubling to me that I could not vote in favor of this expenditure and I want to offer my explanation. I want to start by saying I still feel this is a great project and appreciate the hard work that the Junior Women and others have already invested. Having been part of many projects over my career, I’ve learned over and over again that good planning leads to good results. I’ve been a big supporter of this playground upgrade from the beginning and want to see it be a big success.
That said, in my opinion I’m very concerned about the project’s official start. In our rush to get this equipment ordered, this Board went against many of the lessons we’ve learned over the years. Specifically I was surprised that:
  • There was not a Town appointed committee to give oversight to this project that’s now involving significant tax payer dollars. This is a big shortfall. I understand that a ton of work has been done by the Junior Women, but things changed when the Town put their $150-k skin in game about 6 weeks ago. Once that happened, certain established process rules should’ve been followed.
  • No Town review of competitive bids comparing different options. This Board approved a selection without even seeing all the numbers. Again because of using tax payer dollars, we need to make sure that things are competitive and fair. I don’t feel that was done and actually asked at this meeting to have a spreadsheet prepared to help better understand before making a decision.
  • No Budget. This Board has been recently criticized by our Town Treasurer for the lack of a Hains Park budget. I feel several Board of Finance members shared in that feeling that better financial controls need to be in place to reduce surprise overspends. Our lesson learned from the Boathouse experience, is to develop standard budget formats so that future projects will be even more successful. Ironically, that at this same August 7th meeting, this board actually discussed the draft bid policy that will support this goal. Yet, when it came to the Playground we made the same mistake of moving ahead without a solid budget.
  • We know that the Cross Lane site is challenging in terms of wet lands and soil stability. In fact, we hired an engineer to evaluate the best place to install this new playground. At our meeting, I saw for the first time an actual sketch of the layout. However, I was surprised to learn that no verification that footprint will actually fit given the site’s limitations. I asked specifically of any staking had been done or verification with our Public Works Director and the answer to both of these points was no.
  • Finally there has not been a formal vote of acceptance from our Park & rec commission. I understand that they have been kept in the loop and were good with the concept. However, now that the Town is investing significant money on Town property, the ownership of the new playground by default will becomes Park and Rec. I feel that a formal vote from that Commission should’ve been done before jumping ahead with this purchase.
In summary, Bonnie even said at the meeting we are doing this backwards. To me, that’s crazy and I don’t understand why. I know the reasoning was the deadline to get this project done before winter. But I don’t understand why the rush to get a new playground ready for winter. I hope it’s not for other reasons that this was being pushed along so hard. I must share that several people that I’ve talked to about this have suggested that this is all about the upcoming November election. I really hope that’s not the case. Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

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