EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 20, 2013

Familiar issues could be on Plaistow ballot

Residents could decide water, safety complex issues

By Alex Lippa

---- — PLAISTOW — There could be some familiar items on the warrant at next year’s Town Meeting. Two items which failed by 12 votes are once again being discussed as town officials begin to finalize warrant articles.

Selectmen on Monday discussed having voters decide whether to spend $30,000 to convert an existing fire suppression line on Route 125 into potable drinking water. Voters rejected the proposal, 345-333, last year.

“This remains a serious issue,” Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said. “After the water symposium in September, we are looking at just how we can try to fund that.”

But selectmen voted Monday not to recommend the study, 3-2.

“It’s an important thing to do, but I think there’s a better way of fund this than to ask everyone in the town to contribute at this point in time,” Selectmen’s Chairman Robert Gray said. “This should be done by a special assessment for people who are on this line. This would mainly affect the commercial base and very few residents would be affected.”

Last year, voters turned down a $25,000 architectural feasibility study for a potential expansion of the public safety complex, 348-336. Selectmen may ask voters for money to study the expansion once again.

This year, the town is considering a $25,000 study for the preliminary engineering phase to expand the public safety complex. The study would include a cost estimate on the complex.

“The money would basically come from impact fees which have already been collected,” Fitzgerald said.

Selectmen voted to defer recommending the article to a future meeting.

Other articles discussed included a $100,000 splash park at the Plaistow Area Recreation Complex.

“Plaistow is one of few communities in New Hampshire which do not have a reservoir large enough to swim in,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s important for the community to look at recreational opportunities to ensure our youth and citizens are able to have recreational facilities.”

Fitzgerald did acknowledge it would be a challenge to build a park.

“Because Plaistow has many challenges with water, it would be important to look at the engineering of it,” he said. “We are just looking at what it would take at this point.”

Other items being discussed include acquiring property to build a new highway garage, new unmarked police vehicles, and new defibrillators for police and fire use.

Gray said the highway garage and public safety complex need to be addressed.

“Existing town infrastructure is a critical need and an issue that we must start addressing right away,” he said. “We are working on several ideas at this point, while trying to keep the town’s portion of the taxes level. These issues must be managed in such a way as to keep the town moving forward, while keeping in mind the townspeople’s pocketbook.”

Fitzgerald said he expected discussions on the articles to continue in the next few weeks. They should be finalized sometime next month.