Dalton Policy Restricts New Membership for Green Committe

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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DALTON, Mass — A town policy that does not allow family members to join the same committee blocked the addition of a Green Committee member.

Green Committee members Wendy E. Brown informed her peers at a meeting on Jan. 4 that her son expressed interest in joining the panel, however, a new town policy does not allow residents from the same family to join the same committee.

Town Manager Tom Hutcheson said this new policy is in place to avoid "the potential excessive weight of one opinion" and to get a broader range of opinions to best reflect the population.

Green Committee member David Wasielewski questioned why some other committees have family members on the same panel.

Hutcheson said committees that already have family members on the same panel prior to the new policy have been "grandfathered in." 

There are 4 vacant seats on the committee. Currently, the Green Committee only has three members. There has been little interest from members of the public in filling these vacancies.

The last member to join was Thomas Irwin who joined 17 months ago.

"The unfortunate thing here is that we have so few people on the committee that if somebody sneezes then the committee has no quorum, and we can't do anything," Irwin said.  

With that in mind, Irwin asked if this is something they could take to the Select Board to get a possible exception to this policy. 

Hutcheson preferred not to attempt this.

"I would much rather not do that. I would recommend against that, I'm afraid. I realized that the position that committee is in but it is, unfortunately, a bad precedent that I would not like to see repeated in other committees," Hutcheson said.

Another concern raised is that if someone resigns, then the Green Committee would no longer exist, Irwin said. 

Irwin felt because of this and with many boards struggling to fill their ranks, the town should reconsider this policy.

Hutcheson said he would look at where the town advertises for committee members to confirm the Green Committee is on that list.

The board mentioned possibly bringing Brown’s son, who is 22 years old, on,  having him on to help out. He would not be a voting member.


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Sidewalks Considered for Orchard Road Project in Dalton

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff

DALTON, Mass.—The town is considering including sidewalks in the reconstruction of Orchard Road.

Selectmen John Boyle announced during the Select Board meeting on Monday that the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)  may have grant funding available to fund sidewalks on Orchard Road. 

Boyle, the town's representative on the MPO, said the town can apply for Complete Streets funding through the MPO. 

To be considered, the town has to submit an application before April 1. If the town is approved the money will be available in the summer. 

DPW Superintendent Bud Hall and Town Manager Tom Hutcheson will be working on applying for the grant. 

In addition to this grant funding, the town can also use blacktop to create the sidewalks instead of concrete to keep the costs down, Boyle said. 

The town has also discussed sidewalk repairs with residents before the last town meeting where it was approved to add $10,000 to the sidewalk repair budget.

The road is used by some students who attend Wahconah Regional High School. The Select Board said during a September meeting that the town should first focus its repairs on sidewalks near the schools to improve student safety in high-traffic areas. More information on sidewalks can be found here. 

"I didn't even realize it myself but there are six feeder streets that go into Orchard Road. And they serve all the students in that northeast section of town that walk to [Nessacus Regional Middle School] and [Wahconah Regional High School]," Boyle said.

"I think it's really important and from a handicap point of view, you know we have a lot of interest there from various residents."

Despite interest from residents and officials, installing sidewalks on Orchard Road was originally deemed not feasible, this grant would change that.

The project was delayed for many years due to lack of funding. Over the years, the town applied for grants but was not approved. A few years ago, the town allocated funds for the project, which was utilized to complete the project's engineering and design. They are finalizing the designs now. 

The town was approved for a state MassWorks grant of $1 million so it can address the street's drainage issues. Addressing the street's drainage issues will utilize all of the funding received from this grant. 

The drainage project will be from Pease Avenue to the bridge. The blacktop on the other side of the road, near Wahconah Country Club, and from the Massachusetts Public Works building to Route 9 will also be replaced. 

During the meeting on Monday, the Select Board voted to add a letter to Hall's personnel file, praising him for his efforts in securing a grant.


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