Selectmen Discuss Phone System, Beautification Needed
written by Lynn S. Ulsh, Bulletin ReporterThe Bellingham Board of Selectmen met on July 14 to discuss a town-wide phone system and DPW updates, and to hold public hearings for licensing issues.
Town Administrator Denis Fraine and Lewis Moretsky, a telecommunications consultant from the Upton Group, addressed the Board regarding the installation of a consistent phone system for public town and school buildings. Fraine noted that the fiber optics have been in place since 2010; however, the town currently uses 18 different phone systems, the oldest of which dates back to 1965. One of the systems had been owned by Telecom, which was bought out in 2009, and no updates have been made to the system since the change of ownership.
The town put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for companies to bid to replace the hardware and install a new, modern system townwide. Fraine noted that the town had received bids from 20 companies with plans for three types of systems: a one-system plan, a two-system plan, and a hosted “cloud” system. Moretsky explained that after studying the choices, they felt that the hosted system would be best for the town.
The initial investment will cost $84,000 for the new hardware via e-rate given to school and public buildings such as libraries. Thereafter, the cost will run the town $5–6,000 more per year. Moretsky noted that the system will be a state-of-the-art, modern system with 4-digit dialing, voice mail, voiceover IP, conference calling and other features. Fraine said that they will ask for the money for the system at the October Town Meeting. If it is approved, installation would take place within 60 days.
Fraine also emphasized that the 911 system is separate and provided by the state and will therefore remain the same. Additionally, the old hardware will be listed for sale. Moretsky noted that although most American towns are looking to go to hosted systems, some of the old hardware can be sold to places in South America.
DPW Director Don DiMartino reported that as of July, residents will receive quarterly bills with trash, water and sewer bills on the same invoice. Residents had received four bills previously with two semi-annual water and sewer bills and two semi-annual trash bills. Now, all three services will be on the same bill, received once a quarter.
He noted that the previously approved $210 annual fee for water-system improvements will be split into $52.50 quarterly payments, which will be reflected on the new bills. The first projects to be undertaken will include eliminating dead-end pipes, where water sits stagnant, by connecting them to form loops. A dead-end pipe from Pulaski Blvd. will connect to one on Wrentham Road, and dead-end pipes will be connected on streets off of Locust Street.
Additionally, water-main work will commence on Cross and Taunton Streets. DiMartino said that the goal is to time projects to complete curb-to-curb asphalt resurfacing after working on water pipes rather than simply patching the roads.
DiMartino announced that the DPW will be requesting funds at the October Town Meeting to purchase a new salt shed to allow for purchases of road salt when the prices are best and to stock up with good-quality product. He noted that because of the unusually harsh winter in southern states, there was a short supply of road salt available, which made them extremely nervous since Bellingham prides itself on its ability to clear the roads.
Selectmen Chairman Michael Connor noted that the Bellingham Parks Department that week had taken down 99 illegal signs from utility poles, town property and vacant lots. Also, the town received a grant to purchase a two-seater ATV for police to use to patrol for illegal use of ATVs on public roadways as well as private property. Connor noted that Bellingham has become well known to ATV enthusiasts, and the police had received several complaints.
Selectman Jerry Mayhew also brought up two areas needing attention. He said that Pulaski Blvd. is the only street in town with utility poles running down both sides of the street with wires crisscrossing from both sides. He suggested that discussions be started with the utility companies to make the area more aesthetically pleasing.
Additionally, Mayhew pointed out that a letter dated March 2013 instructed the Beverly Club to take its sign down, but the owners have not complied. The building has been vacant for several years. Now the building has been deemed unsafe and must be razed.
At the June 9 Selectmen meeting, the Board held a public hearing to discuss complaints against St. Nick’s Art, Coins & Books dealers on Mendon Street. The business had been cited for not following regulations regarding the photographing and documenting of each piece of a collection and holding the collection for 30 days before resale. The Selectmen noted that the laws are in place to protect the business as well as the customers from the sale of stolen items.
Mayhew said that Bellingham does not want to get the reputation as “the fence of the world.” He added that they should not accept what they don’t want to identify and that, if they doubt ownership, they should call the police immediately. The Board put the business on notice that the license will be revoked if they do not comply with the regulations for documentation.