Headed by Clean Energy, the program gathers residents who are interested in solar to do a group buy on the materials. A company is chosen as the vendor and the intent is that the more people who sign up for it, then material costs drop because of the bulk purchasing.
The program has seemingly taken off across the state but much to the chagrin of local contractors who feel it attracts out-of-state companies that put pressure on customers and provide misinformation.
The Selectmen have asked Town Administrator Jonathan Butler twice in recent months to look into the program on the town's behalf and on Wednesday, Butler said the town is qualified and can fill out the applications to enter the program. However, the town needs to demonstrate that there is local interest.
The Board of Selectmen put the item on next week's agenda to develop a plan to find those in town interested in the program. The plan can include such tactics like polls or surveys.
"I am absolutely interested," Selectman Michael Ouellette said. "I would love to get involved in the program."
In other business, Butler took exception to a recently published report regarding back taxes. The article listed Charles "Rusty" Ransford and MJD Reality as owing the majority of the back taxes.
While there are significant back taxes owed, Butler said the town is and has been in working to get compliance without using public funds.
"We don't ignore problems," Butler said.
The former Duteau Collision at the corner of Edmunds and Commercial streets, owned by Ransford, has been in tax title for years, Butler said, but the town is waiting to pull the trigger until the state's brownfields grant funding is available.
"The town has been in position for some time to take possession of that building if we choose to do so. The owner of the property volunteered to give us the property at one point," Butler said. "But there is a catch. It is a contaminated property. It comes with significant environmental liability."
Ransford owes somewhere in the $100,000 range in back taxes on the building and the Board of Health has cited him multiple times for hazards. But simply taking it would place the taxpayers in a position to pay $50,000 to $80,000 to remediate the site.
The brownfields grant would allow the town to clean the site without the liability, Butler said.
"It would put us in a much stronger and, in my opinion, a much more responsible position to take that property rather than just taking it an passing that cost to the taxpayers," he said.
The other property cited is the former Curtis Fine Papers Mill. Two consecutive businesses had gone bankrupt at that site and current owners MJD Reality had entered an payment plan to have them pay the back taxes.
The Board of Selectmen had some harsh words for MJD a year and a half ago when the company had again fallen behind on the payments. But that property, too, has environmental concerns and Butler said he is continually working with the owners to get those taxes paid.
The goal, he said, is to solve the problem without using many public funds. However, Butler said he is not backing those who are not paying their taxes but rather supporting the efforts the town is making behind the scenes.
Also in other business, Butler reported that the town's Department of Public Works will be extending the handrails on the bleachers at Renfrew Park. Parks Commissioner Barbara Meczywor has approached the board at each of the last two meetings asking for the work the town had not set aside funds to do it. Butler said the DPW staff has the ability to do the work in-house and will do so as soon as the parts come in.
Police Chief Richard Tarsa also reported that he has met with residents of Crotteau Street who have been complaining about a neighbor as well as that building's landlord. He said police and the landlord have made it clear to the residents that the building is being watched. Tarsa said the landlord was cooperating with trying to resolve the neighbor's complaints.
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