Duxbury Select Board discusses engineers, roads and Zoom

The Duxbury Select Board at a Monday night, June 8, meeting heard a pitch to hire a town engineer, among other things.

Duxbury resident Ben MacKinney addressed the board with some advice for improvement. He suggested that the board hire a town engineer.

“Some of our biggest financial liability in years past and in the future is transportation and infrastructure spending, upgrades, maintenance and disaster recovery,” said MacKinney. He’s right: Duxbury, like most towns, spends a lot of money on road maintenance, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, even with grants.

MacKinney is an engineer who’s been in construction his whole life and says he still learns new stuff every day. “The nuances of this stuff can be hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said. Take unit price bidding, for instance, in which a contractor is paid for the actual quantity of each line item performed as measured in the field during construction.

Board chair Kevin Garcia agreed that a town engineer could be helpful. “With some of these projects, I don’t think we have 100 percent of everything we need to know before we proceed,” said Garcia.

MacKinney acknowledged that nobody is interested in spending money right now and that the board has done a good job at “wearing a lot of hats,” when dealing with contractors, agencies and engineers. Still, he held firm that the town could benefit financially by hiring a specialist who understands the nuances of the construction projects being pushed forward by the town.



At the meeting, the Duxbury Select Board also voted to keep using Zoom as the primary digital communication tool for the town going forward. The town plans to create its own Zoom account and give the login information to the heads of all Duxbury’s different boards: the planning commission, the DRB and the select board.


Regarding a plan to fix rain-damaged Crossett Hill Road, the board voted to allot eight nonconsecutive weeks of total construction time toward fixing the road and set a project end date of November 30, 2020. Before eventually agreeing on a project end date of November 30, the board argued over the deadline.

Board member Richard Charland argued for a September deadline. “You want to have that road open in September, assuming that you’re going to have buses, and the kids are going to be going to school,” said Charland. “That’s the priority, getting that road open.”

On the other hand, Garcia said that shortening the project timeline would deter contractors from applying for the project. “I don’t want us to limit who we can have as a contractor. Some might be able to start July 1 and be done in October. Others might be able to start August 1 and be done in November.”

Ultimately, the board voted 3-2 for a November 30 deadline.


Finally, the board voted to extend the zoning application processing time to 90 days. Normally, the wait time for application processing is 45 days, but the state authorized select boards to extend the processing time 90 says, given the new social distancing work circumstances surrounding COVID-19.