CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town will address broken emergency lighting and signage in public buildings.
The Selectmen met again with the Finance Committee on Tuesday night to go over the draft budget and they discussed further building maintenance and some immediate concerns over safety.
Specifically the lack of working exit signs and emergency lighting in town buildings.
"We definitely need to address this," Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said. "We can't have employees working in this situation and we have to address it."
Francesconi said much of this became apparent after a recent building walkthrough with a contractor.
Emergency lighting does not work in Town Hall, the fire station, and the community center. She said some fire extinguishers throughout town are not compliant.
She said the Selectmen were made aware of some of these issues years ago but nothing was ever done.
Smoke detectors are also a concern and Francesconi said there is a single smoke detector in the community center.
She said she is awaiting a quote for the project but anticipates it will beyond town staff. She said the item will likely have to be a warrant article.
"I can't imagine that it is going to be cheap," she said.
In general, the Selectmen felt the town needed to keep better track of various town projects and how much is spent on different town buildings.
In other business, the Selectmen continued their discussion on the harbor master and whether he or she should be appointed for life.
Selectman Robert DeAngelis said he talked with the West Stockbridge harbor master who agreed that appointing someone for life was odd.
He added that in his discussion with the West Stockbridge harbor master he found that harbor masters have a slate of important duties.
"They have quite a bit of power and have a lot of duties," he said. "They can carry a firearm and they are almost a police officer on the water."
He said the mayor or select boards in most communities appoint the harbormaster. He said this appointment is renewed every few years and that the governing body often sets duties and salaries.
Francesconi felt that a new job description was important and goes along with the town's goal of cleaning up job descriptions town-wide.
"It is something that we are working towards," she said. "It is hard to hold someone in negligence of duty if we don't have those duties listed. We need a written document so I think this conversation needs to be continued."
There is no word of this on the books in Cheshire and the Selectmen had no idea why the position is appointed for life.
"No one knows where it came from," DeAngelis said. "Maybe someone had the job for a long time and made it up so no one bothered them."
Interim Town Administrator Mark Webber said it was an ongoing joke that town employees and elected officials were appointed for life because they tended to stay in their positions for long periods of time.
DeAngelis said maybe the joke became the status quo.
"Maybe it was a joke and it stuck because people heard it so much," he said.
The Selectmen agreed that a larger discussion in regard to the job description needed to be had with the Lake District and the police chief. DeAngelis suggested that the harbor master lives near or on the lake, or at least in town.
"If there are accidents and what not and we need to make sure everyone is following the law," he said.
The current harbor master is the former Highway Superintendent Blair Crane. Although he no longer lives in town, he does return to address his harbor master duties.
Before closing, the Selectmen thanked DeAngelis for his service.
"Thank you for your time and your service to the town," Francesconi said.
DeAngelis will not seek a new term.
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