At a Tuesday night meeting, Warren Select Board members met to discuss a variety of needs including a sheriff on Plunkton Road to deter speeders, public input on the effectiveness of Zoom meetings, a new fire truck for the town and a new road crew employee.
SPEEDERS ON PLUNKTON
At the June 23 meeting, Warren resident Mike Malekoff alerted the board of speeding on Plunkton Road. Malekoff lives on the dirt portion of Plunkton and frequently experiences cars and trucks barreling by at speeds of 50 to 60 mph, despite the 35 mph speed limit.
“Now with summer and the heat, Blueberry Lake parking areas are all filled. People are parked on the road. Kids are walking and biking on the road. This is a safety issue. The 35 mph speed limit is not being observed,” said Malekoff, who suggested that the town lower the speed limit to 25 mph.
Select board chair Andrew Cunningham pointed out that lowering the speed limit wouldn’t help those who are already exceeding the 35 mph limit and instead recommended that the town instruct a sheriff to survey the road and even put a flashing speed sign up, the kind that reflects drivers’ actual speed back to them. “That’s my view of what we need to start with, posting the sheriff out there and putting the sign out,” said Cunningham.
Regarding the effectiveness of Zoom meetings, the select board encouraged members of the public to reach out with feedback on their experiences attending select board meetings over Zoom. “If people are having trouble with this format, give us your feedback,” said Cunningham.
From the select board’s perspective, meeting over Zoom has been a great experience. Select board member Camilla Behn said, “It’s very comfortable not having to leave the house for a meeting.” Cunningham noted an increase in public participation since the start of digital meetings. “I feel like we’re getting more public input now then we ever did,” said Cunningham.
One member of the public, Dave Campenelli, told the board he liked Zoom meetings because he could listen while having a beer at home.
For the time being, the board will keep meeting over Zoom. Additionally, next week, the board will decide if it wants to return to meeting every other week instead of weekly.
FIRE TRUCK PURCHASE
At the meeting, the board also approved the purchase of a new fire truck for the town at a cost of $289,800. The new fire truck will replace engine No. 3, the town’s 30-year-old fire truck. According to Jeff Campbell of the Warren Fire Department, the new four-wheel drive fire truck is nimbler than the last, given its smaller body. The truck fits four people in the cab and can carry 400 gallons of water.
“This truck is truly going to enable us to fight fires just as well as before. And it’s going to get us places where, before, we needed a truck with chains,” said Campbell.
Warren resident Gene Bifano protested the purchase of a fire truck without a compressed air foam system (CAFS), a system which uses fire retardant foam instead of water to extinguish fires. When the board voted to purchase the truck, Bifano said he would get a petition signed with over 200 signatures to demand that the town put CAFS on the new truck.
NEW ROAD CREW POSITION
Finally, select board members discussed hiring a fifth road crew member, as a space has opened on the road crew since the firing of the previous road foreman in early June.
When resident Dave Campenelli asked how this employee search was related to the firing of the previous road foreman, Cunningham explained that the town terminated the foreman’s employment and immediately filled his position. “If you think about it as everyone moved up a rung on the ladder, now the bottom rung is open. So it doesn’t have to be someone with 10 years of experience,” said Cunningham.
According to Cunningham, the hiring of a road crew worker now as opposed to later allows the road crew to have a better workload for the summer and to have a cohesive unit going into the winter season.
Select board members agreed to speak to the current road foreman and will make a decision regarding the position at their meeting next week.