image description
The board has hired Foresight Services for an engineering study of retaining wall on Cross Road.

Clarksburg Eyes Retaining Wall Problem, Delays Accountant Hire

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

The wall is showing some significant deterioration.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Select Board on Wednesday approved spending $18,700 for preliminary engineering studies on a troubling Cross Road retaining wall. 
 
There is significant deterioration in the concrete wall along the south side of the Cross Road across from Hall's Ground. 
 
Town Administrator Rebecca Stone on Wednesday said Highway Foreman Kyle Hurlbut had planned to be at the meeting but the roads required his attention because of the snow that night. 
 
"What he's looking is for a motion to contract with Foresight Services. They do a lot of our engineering for us, they're out of Pittsfield," she said. 
 
The money is coming out of the engineering line item and from other funds. 
 
Select Board member Danielle Luchi asked if a lower bid had been sought. 
 
"We could bring it out to bid but Foresight has been our go-to and they've been very, very good to the town over the last few years, said Chairman Ronald Boucher. "We really don't have to go out to bid for engineering studies."
 
He said the cost for the study was unfortunate — "crazy money" — and that they could imagine what the cost for the project will be. 
 
"You got to make sure you do it right because you're talking about, you know, basically public safety," Boucher said. "It needs to be addressed and it's something that we really can't wait on."
 
Parts of the wall have been falling out and there's potential to damage to both public and private property. 
 
"I drove by and took a look at it today," Luchi said. "It's definitely in need of repair."
 
The board got some good news that dealing with issues with its sewer lines won't be as expensive as expected. The town had signed on with DPC Engineering of Longmeadow earlier this year to comply with an administrative order from the state Department of Environmental Protection to survey its infiltration and inflow issues. 
 
Justin Skelly, project manager with David Prickett Consulting LLC, said Phase 1 of the project is being completed and he was back before the board for the next phase. 
 
He explained that DEP has been pressing municipalities to address failings in their systems and has begun fining towns and cities. 
 
"Essentially the intent was to get towns who may have ignored their sewer systems you know for the past 40-50 years to really start considering what's buried under the ground," Skelly said. "It's to plan ahead until instead of waiting for things to break, it's essentially an asset management framework."
 
The first phase "checked a lot of boxes" for DEP and is expected to wrap up by March. Follow up work will be based on the results of that study.
 
"Originally we were talking about something in the call it $90,000 range," Skelly said. "Speaking with Rebecca and DEP, we've come up with some innovative ways to really trim it down." 
 
The Phase 2 cost is now expected to be about $27,200 and will leave the town with a GIS database of every sewer pipe that's in the ground and the condition of the infrastructure. This will allow public works to plan a capital budget for anticipated replacements. 
 
The second phase would commence in the new fiscal year and be completed by the end of 2021. DEP had indicated July 1 would be the "hard deadline" and Skelly said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would likely be checking in at that point. 
 
Boucher asked if everything was on schedule and Skelly affirmed it was and the DEP was aware of their progress. 
 
In other business, the board appointed Jessica Sweeney as temporary town clerk. Sweeney had been appointed a few months ago as assistant to Paul McLatchy III, who had stepped into the vacant post to help the town through the election season.
 
"Congratulations Thanks for all the hard work you've done so far," Boucher told Sweeney. "We appreciate it very much."
 
Town meeting has voted to make the town clerk an appointed rather than an elected position but another needs to be taken at the annual town election to complete that process. 
 
The appointment of a town accountant was delayed after board members questioned the applicant's working from home. 
 
Angela Garrity had been put forth unanimously by the search committee. She works for Richmond full time as both town clerk and accountant and is also the accountant for the town of Hancock. She had also worked for the Williamstown Fire District but said she had given her notice. 
 
"What I can tell the board members is for me, she checked all the boxes that needed to be checked," Boucher said. 
 
Garrity was confident she could handle Clarksburg and said she could put in hours on Friday afternoons and weekends and be available by email and phone.
 
Luchi, however, questioned if she would have any office hours during the week, noting there had been discussions about ensuring communications between staff. Select Board Allen Arnold echoed some of her concerns.
 
Stone said most of the accountant's contact would be with the treasurer and that access via phone or email did not appear to be an issue. 
 
"If that were the case, we wouldn't have put your name forward because you're tied up in Richmond Monday through Thursday during the day," she said. "So that's just the opinion coming from the search committee that vetted the applicants."
 
Boucher said the retiring accountant, Donna Estes, a member of the search committee, indicated that being in the building was not a necessity.
 
"I think Angela's a great pick and I just want to thank the committee for putting her forward," said Luchi. But, she was concerned about setting precedent for other employees. "It's a very convenient way of working, but I don't want everyone to think that they're always going to work from home."
 
The board postponed a decision until after Tuesday's tax classification hearing set for 3:30 p.m.
 
The board declined a single bid of $50 for its 2006 police cruiser, believing the town could get more from the scrap yard. 
 
• Boucher named Theresa Denette to the Finance Committee, which was affirmed by the board. The town moderator appoints the Finance Committee and town meeting voted Boucher as moderator when no one stood for election to the position. 
 
1 Comments
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to info@iberkshires.com.

Cruiser, Backhoe, Bridge Top Clarksburg Capital Requests

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Town officials will be considering department requests for vehicles and equipment in the fiscal 2022 budget. 
 
The Police Department, Highway Department and library presented their budgets and capital plans to the Finance Committee on Monday. 
 
Police Chief Michael Williams's budget includes a request for a new police cruiser and police clerk. 
 
Williams had asked for a new vehicle last year to replace the decade-old Chevrolet Tahoe but had been asked to put it off another year. 
View Full Story

More Clarksburg Stories