On Tuesday, November 12th, three new councilors took the oath of office at the town council meeting. Donna Chapman, Roy Moore, and Robert Muir were each sworn in for three year terms. Thomas Gleason was elected as the new council chairman, and Dennis Welch was elected as the vice chairman. Present at the meeting were councilors Chapman, Gleason, Moore, Muir, Matthew Noel, and Welch. David Nadeau was absent.
During public participation members of the community spoke about the streetlight policy. Carol Waig of Trails End said she understands the tight budget and attempts to save money, but she has seen street lights come under attack, and she isn’t happy, nor are other residents of the town.
George Schaffer of Kelly Lane said he was upset by the streetlight issue as well. He said that only a few new councilors were present at the public meeting. He also questioned why town manager Tony Plante stayed in the hallway instead of coming into the meeting, but later went in front of television cameras. About the streetlight issue, he said that people don’t apply common sense, but instead look only at facts and figures and make decisions based on that. “Maps don’t tell you anything until you get out into the streets at night and look at what’s going on,” he said.
Several councilors commented that they didn’t think anything should be done about the streetlights until they could examine the policy and have discussion around it. Plante said he was at the meeting, but in the hallway much of the time, because he did not want to sidetrack the discussion. “The point of the meeting was to hear from the public that had concerns about the streetlight policy, not to get into a debate as to the merits of the policy,” he said. He added that the notices posted on lights were not worded well, and led to an impression that they would be shut off after November 18th, which has never been the case.
During his report, Plante congratulated the new councilors and expressed his gratitude to outgoing councilors Peter Anania, Kevin Call and Scott Hayman. Plante’s report also included notice that a municipal partnership (MPI) application for Falmouth Road from Nash Road to Albion Road has been approved. This is a $384,000 project, of which 50 percent will be reimbursed by the state. Another MPI project on Windham Center Road has been completed after having to be repaved at no cost to the town or state, due to not meeting project specifications.
During his report, Plante previewed the town’s new website for the council. The site will be launched on November 19th, with a new domain name which will be announced in local press later this week, he said.
The town is also conducting a space needs analysis and facilities needs master plan, said Plante. The starting point for this is to look at current buildings to ensure that the town is making the best use of the buildings they already have, he said. Exterior work on the town office has been completed.
Plante concluded his report saying, “I’m looking forward to spending time as this new group comes together and works on its goals, figuring out what that means for me and staff, and translating what your goals are into reality.”
A motion to approve sending a letter in support of a grant application for improvements to the Donnabeth Lippman Park drew a heated response from one community member. Waig spoke again on this item, expressing her concern and upset at seeking grant money for a park that won’t be completed for many years over seeking funding for projects that already exist in the community, like the skatepark and bike park. “Why is it that we can’t put a little bit more effort into a couple of parks that we already have and that we’ve attempted to grow,” she asked.
Councilor Chapman said she agreed with Waig, and that the council would revisit those projects. “We have to work together to help one another to keep and have the things that the community expects us to have,” she said.
Noel clarified that the bike park was originally brought forth as a volunteer, grassroots effort, and the group that began it has disbanded. He also said that this grant is part of the master plan for the Donnabeth Lippman Park, and is a good opportunity to get the walkway components of the project completed.
Gleason added that any budgetary decisions will be made at budget time, and also pointed out that other than one day of vandalism, there hasn’t been a problem at the skate park since it hasn’t been supervised. The motion to send the letter of support passed unanimously.
The public can access agendas, minutes and watch the recorded meeting on the town website at http://www.windhamweb.com/topArticleList/Meeting_Webcasts.shtml.