Selectboard Meeting Notes – Full Speed Ahead; Ignore The Warnings

brattleboro selectboard

The Brattleboro Selectboard held a very long first meeting of Spring.

Despite pleas from the public, they pressed on with many issues they felt could not wait for new board members. From Community Safety to ARPA, the board ignored suggestions to improve their public perception and to increase public input.

Comments | 8

  • Preliminaries

    Last week the meeting was cancelled due to a snowstorm. This week they get started late while it is sunny and 50 out. : ) Their executive session must be running late.

    Chair Ian Goodnow – sorry we are a minute late. It is 6:20. I want to make a quick motion… new business 8G has been warned incorrectly – Committee Appointments should read “announcements” and the back up material is wrong, so given that, I move we remove it from the agenda tonight and put it on the next agenda.

    Daniel – we were supposed to meet last week and this agenda is a mishmash of last and this week.

    Ian – all in favor (5-0). I have a couple of remarks. I want to let everyone know that tomorrow night at 5:30 at Academy School is the first caucuses and then the informational session for representative town meeting. One big session to discuss all of the articles . A lot of info. A great meeting. Reps and the public are invited. In person and on BCTV. Also, RTM members should submit motions for other business should be submitted prior to the meeting to the moderator. Also, refresh yourself on Roberts Rules. Finally. RTM is at BUHS on March 25. And tonight is the last meeting of Tim Wessel and Jessica Gelter and I want to thanks them for their time. Much thanks for all the time you have given to the town. I believe in public service. Grateful to you for your time and effort and love for the community and thanks. We’ll miss you, and I’m excited to work with the new members at the next meeting on the 27th on March.

    Town Manager John Potter – Thanks Jess and Tim. Happy Spring to everyone. We had an election 2 weeks ago. It was busy and went smoothly. Higher than average turnout. Thanks to voters for turning out. Poll workers went above and beyond. Thanks to the maintenance crew with setting it all up and clearing snow at American Legion. And to American legion for hosting the polls and to the candidates. Second, an update about 16 Washington – we gave 10 days to fix violations, it wasn’t complied with, and now we are seeking relief through the court, but your order has been appealed by the owner. Chief Hardy want 6-8 candidate enrolled for the upcoming academy. They have a number of applicants. She will recruit for the winter academy. If all work out we’ll be down just 2 staff. The storm of March 14 was very big and DPW did 4x the work they did in December. Communications went well and roads were closed, and water kept running. The police did a great job checking up on people and helping those without heat. The fire department helped with emergency response and firefighters were kept busy. Carol Lolatte coordinated a red cross center at the school, getting them food and showers and other things. Red Cross was trying to hire her away from us ! Schools helped with the space. Others, too, plus food donations. Great teamwork to keep us resilient. Finally, planning director Sue Fillion said we are at the strongest towns contest up against Dunllen, NJ.

    Ian – a lot of comments! Liz, congrats for joining us for another 3 years.

    Jessica Gelter – I want to express gratitude for the two years I’ve been on the board. Exciting to step up and take this seat. Grateful for the voters that put me here, and for town staff for helping me understand how things work and what is important. Also, fellow board members. It’s been a wonderful opportunity and I always say get involved and stay involved, so you’ll see me again for committee vacancies. To peter and franz, four words of wisdom – patience, care, vulnerability, and humility. Those are the things I’ve carried with me.

    Tim Wessel – I did write a thing. A lot has happened in 6 years. In a way, it lines up with two different worlds. Exactly half way through, we went fully remote. I worked with good people before, then after. Then COVID. I spent 18 years as chair during 2020, then Ian and jess joined us. It has been an honor to serve with everyone. If you have a decent day, anyone on the board should feel honored, but also to put down work and connect with other elected neighbors to guide the town. Also to work with 3 town managers over these years. I would have stayed if John Potter hadn’t impressed me out of the gate. Thanks to the town employees. You learn a lot serving. I hope new members learn about the people who make the town run well, while trying to make it better. I’m proud of my achievements, and rather go through my list of accomplishments… one wisdom for the parting board. Passion is not policy. Policy comes from democrat policies and tools to get there. When foundations are ignored, the people who elected you get left behind. Build your foundations . It is slow, but it is the way you have a standing after you have moved on. I thank current and former board members for putting up with me. Each of you can be wrong 50 % of the time. I love each and every one of you. You are all part of what makes this town so wonderful.

    Ian – public participation…

    Frick Spruyt – I think you are all role models for elected office. This is a sign of healthy democracy. I have a copy of the petition about the housing policy review committee. I can’t improve it, so I’d like to offer you copies of this.

    Ian – thanks. You want signatures?

    Frick – it got about 300 signatures before the election. Town Clerk said it was a remarkable amount even though it wasn’t on the ballot.

    Kurt Daims – I work with BCS I’m manager of the project of the emergency housing project with motor homes. About not attending in person, perhaps we should stop now… I yield to Daniel…. no? Okay. I was absent, despite snide innuendo. I had received threat of an ugly mess here at the selectboard. People have harassed people staying int he shelter, and I have been harassed. Most people say they didn’t file the complain. I stayed away at the advice of my board. I was confident you would have a better meeting without me as a target for disruptive people. I was doing you a favor. I’m here now to emphasize the report we submitted. I trusted you would hear my testimony in the written statement, but you suppressed the statement, after want to hear from me. Jessica noted you all had received it by email. You lose credibility when you want to hear from Kurt but you refuse to listen.

    Ian – wrap it up.

    Kurt – you failed to respond as I brought the project to you over the last two years, so read a revised version of the report.

  • Consent Agenda

    A. Audit Services – Authorize Contract

    B. CannMaxx Tobacco License – Authorize Application

    C. The Porch Too First and Third-Class Liquor License – Authorize Application

    D. RS&L LLC, One Stop Second Class Liquor License and Tobacco License – Authorize Application

    E. Brattleboro Brewers Fest Festival Permit – Authorize Application

    F. Tri-Park Water and Sewer Grant – Authorize Application

    G. Monthly Financial Report – Accept Report

    H. EMS Update – Accept Report

    I. Annual Cemetery Contract – Approve Bid Award

    J. AARP Community Challenge Flagship Grant – Authorize Application

    K. Epsilon Spires Liquor License – Authorize Application

    L. Cameras at the Transportation Center – Approve Bid Award


    Ian – we won’t put the EMS or Financial reports on the consent agenda in the future, just tonight.

    Jess – we don’t put new liquor licenses on the consent agenda… so they can talk about their business….

    Ian – were they contacted?

    Potter – we suggested public comments if they wanted to do it…

    Ian – in the future let’s contact them…

    So consented. 5-0

  • Fire-EMS Service Delivery Approach – Adopt Approach

    Ian- Chief Howard and AC Kier… board, John will speak to this methodology for our consideration.

    Potter – this item is how do we figure out to go with fire and EMS services for the town. There is a team of town staff with previously unavailable data plus the Triton report. WE did Q&A with them. Key takeaways were that we need to address the deficiency in the response force and look at various model. Look at the report and make it out own. They gave us four general options. Staff has leaned into it and we realize there are three things that differentiate any approach. Is the EMS provider in house, contracted out, or a hybrid? Is it regional, or dedicated to Brattleboro? Is it to national standards for coverage? So for the past 22 years, the Town employed Rescue Inc as hybrid model, with both fire and rescue were a hybrid. Ambulances were regional. Last year the town switched to Golden Cross. Not a regional model… there are two additional staff are available to get us closer to national standards and ambulances dedicated to being in Brattleboro. Deciding on the best model going forward is complicated and involves trade-offs. We suggest deciding before FY 2025 budget. It is hard to make an educated guess to the total cost, and make require us to hire outside experts. WE recommend a four step process – keep things covered until a decision is made, do more research, develop a preferred alternative to present to the board, then implementing it by July 2024. Happy to answer questions.

    Ian – thanks for the summary. Board?

    Daniel – thanks, so John, in your four step approach – 1 was to secure a continuity of service, gather more information about three primary solutions?

    Potter – Table 2 explains the primary solutions. WE gave each a name. Regional or dedicated, who does first response, and who has best response –

    Daniel – the one less familiar s a dedicated contract EMS service?

    Potter – unlike with Rescue as a regional service and Bratt Fire doing first response, this would be for reposnder to provide all first response…

    Daniel – we’l ask for organizations to send us a proposal?

    Potter – we don’t have details yet. WE’ll request qualifications, then we could do a RFQ, then we could get cost estimates.

    Ian – Rescue provided a regional model that was hybrid. To our request they could reply that they want to do a regional model?

    Potter – yes.

    Jessica – I’m really excited that John is here to look forward to what is next. Two new folks won’t have the baggage of the challenging conversations of the last year to look at the data and move forward. I take issue with one thing. In the AP Triton report – there was a community survey that emphasized fast reposes time. What we have seen that fire and Golden Cross can meet that town need. That’s what we get from a dedicated town service. More people in that survey in other communities across the country. people really cared. Leaving the regional option on the table would be disregarding what the community was telling us in that survey. A regional service can’t meet community expectations and meeting calls in a timely manner. We saw this in dispatch data. We have to look at that. Is it a political move? or effective for Brattleboro? We hear the need for more firefighters on staff, or if no longer as EMS staff and just dedicated to fire, we wouldn’t need to hire more. In a hybrid model we have to hire more. It will be challenging justifying sending more to pay for a hybrid options. It’s a great process and I think all the models could be valid, but hybrid regional model should be taken off the table. That is how I see it. Done for the moment.

    Liz – I agree with my esteemed colleague, but need to keep in in there for comparison because of interest int he community. I appreciate the approach that has been taken in this analysis. This cold look at what we want to receive can take out some of that emotion and focus on best service.

    Tim – I appreciate you bringing up the community survey. Rich said it wa remarkable amount of feedback. I don’t agree about taking it off the table. We want to see the choices. Seems like taking it away would eliminate one regional provider.

    Ian – would the RFQ or RFP have the service standards we want?

    Potter – yes, that’s likely – what service standard could you meet in a regional model. That could factor into decisions about costs. Tradeoffs between costs and standards.

    Chief – over last 7 months we need two dedicated ambulances in Brattleboro. We had to learn on the fly. 2-3% of the town we need a third.

    Ian – the hybrid and dedicated models… what about the full municipal EMS model?

    Potter – we’ll have the service standard to meet. We will need to explore the financial implications to the general fund. We have a team all working very hard on breaking down the financial aspects of that model… how close could we get to the national standard? Numbers of firefighters, the design of the shift… it will help us find a preferred alternative.

    Ian – the timeline is important. Need to make a decision in a timely way. Are these proposed dates achievable?

    Potter – yes, it should be fine to meet those deadlines.

    Tim – a question – in the memo it says there was never a guarantee within town bounds… can you explain that phrasing. How often.. how often was there a significant delay or concerning delay?

    Chief – can’t give you an exact, but we waited for ambulances for 30 minutes for out of town… getting the patient transported.

    Ian – which is why the regional model must be hybrid… it requires a local response to be there.

    Tim – a question in a couple of months…

    Ian – the public…

    Dick Degray – All set? Tim just asked my question – how many times in 22 years has Rescue not been able to respond to a call for transport? To say that 1 or 2 times is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There’s no guarantee of in-house service if we have multiple incidents going on. So, I find it a bit disingenuous about the guarantee. Nobody… any outside entity.. I guess the language being used here is somewhat bothersome to me. This is an aside against our former partner and I don’t think we should be susing language that kinda assails them when they have been a great parter. Never in my 8 years on the board did anyone say they didn’t meat the need. That needs to be in the forefront also. Not to make one entity look bad that could be our partner. I don’t think I know the whole story. I have to accept that, but let’s have a level playing field going forward. A big part is the financial impact on taxpayers.

    Ian – thanks. I appreciate the comment. Some clarity – there is mixing.. the guarantee is about the three models. The regional model doesn’t devote any ambulances to any municipality, but a dedicated contract would have a dedicated amount. We look at percentiles as better measures of times estimates. It is a contractual question – will there be ambulances devoted to our town, or to the region. The comment is well taken but don’t conflate those things.

    Kate O’Connor – super cold water. I don’t think you shouldd consider this or the effective response or ARPA – all are EMS. Staff is seeking guidance about EMS services. This is the last meeting of the board and a new board in 6 days. They need to be involved in this discussion and giving guidance. two of you aren’t going to be here. It’s is really important that the new members are involved. The voters spoke. It is 6 days. For the health of the community you would play these until the first meeting in April . You aren’t going to be making the decision. They need to be here asking the question and giving guidance. If you vote tonight, you kept two people out of the discussion. 3 people making up rules for 5 people? The others may have helpful ideas. Defer these conversations until April. Put your agendas and wanting to be in on the decision. The people who will be here in 6 days need to be in on this. Nothing says you need to decide these tonight.

    Ian – thanks, Kate.

    Daniel – I hear you. When we put the agenda together we took some things off because of the election. Franz and Peter were invited to an Executive Session and we began to get up to speed. It comes at the request of staff to reapply in a timely manner. What do you need today that can’t wait?

    Potter – what can’t wait? It is important for the town and you want to keep working on it. You can always revisit it if the new board disagrees. We hope this board will act responsibly.

    Ian – the ultimate decision will be by the new board. Just proposing a direction to go in tonight… the new members will be a part of the discussion.

    Tim – it is tempting to make good impact. This seems like setting up the next board for succe, but I hear that. This was supposed to be on the 1th and not last moment. i wanted a path laid out before RTM, so they could comment.

    Ian – good point!

    Tim – there isn’t a role for RTM, but we can gather comments.

    Liz – I don’t see this path forward from anything we were charged with after AP Triton. Just a practical method of how to decide for the town. We were told to do this and we’re just doing it. And it will continue. We’ve had delays. It’s not going to matter if we start now of if the new board wants to tweak it. I don’t think there is anything objectionable. It has two lanes… three lanes…

    Tim – can I ask follow up questions of Kate? What are we missing if we decide tonight? Are we cutting off a possibility going forward?

    Kate – it is not for you folks to give guidance to the town staff.. part is the schedule.. and who should we ask. They need to be involved in that. All five of you won’t be here. Liz just said what does it matter… then wait two weeks. I would have said this on the 14th. Why are you holding on that you need to make the decision. It’s a new phase. You did your jobs, turn it over to the new people. Do it in April with the new people.

    Potter – I think there is a lot of town business that if we keep stacking up, it gets hard for staff to do that. It would be better to be able to know how to move forward.

    Franz Reichsman – as one of the two people, I’d like to thanks Kate for an important theoretical point. I haven’t heard anything objectionable in the planning process… maybe I’d have some there thought on the timeline, but I don’t. I have no problem with the discussion d the proposal to move forward.

    Ian – I did two in the room. Zoomland….

    Bob Oeser – this discussion could go on for some time. I’ll try to be brief. Listening to Kate, I agree. Looking at the proposal. I wonder if the distinction between dedicated and regional is really a meaningful distinction – page 3 talks about Rescue and that BFD would take over care on the scene. Some have concerns about the language. Some transport situations are unresolved conflicts. If they had been resolved we wouldn’t talk about this today. It’s about patient care. The level of care was a common denominator. The only difference was a breakdown of a relationship. WE need to mend that relationship. Regional and dedicated – some says regional is better. That word “guarantee” seemed to indicate that somehow you’d get a guarantee with one model over another.

    Ian – wrap it up

    Bob – was there ever a time Rescue missed a call while contracted with Brattleboro?

    Chief – they didn’t miss a call. We waited for them sometimes.

    Daniel – it is unhelpful to hear anecdotes. Let’s hear from real people rather than use Bob’s second hand info. Hard to make a decision. I’d urge if people have relevant information to bring it forward. We will make the best decision with he most information.

    Daniel – I want to speak to Kate’s thing. I hear you from a perception point of view. If Jessica and Tim abstain, we could still do the intent. The only thing lost by delaying two weeks… it is complex and the Town manager’s office is very busy and we are asking them to pause that process… other than perception, no reason to do this.

    Peter Case – I guess I see the benefit from voting tonight. I see Kate’s point about delaying it and letting the next board decide. Perception has created a lot of the rift. It’s all about messaging. If there isn’t any excuse other than being busy. Ian, you were busy tonight.. if there is truly no harm to delay, then I would advocate for that. I’d also advocate that as presented, I don’t hate it either, but for perception… pass it tonight it looks bad. Push to the next board but new people helped make the decision.

    Tim – I kinda.. thanks for the abstain suggestion. It’s non-committal. It might make sense to me now. The perception argument would hold more weight if three people had been elected, not two. I’m going to abstain because I am concerned about perception. But anything tonight shouldn’t be decided tonight…and that’s ridiculous.

    Jess – i always was planning to abstain, and integrity is maintained by three members. We are elected to a full year. We can continue to serve in our last month of service.

    Ian – if a lame duck period is something we dislike, the charter can be changed.

    Tim – but we have to serve Saturday to defend our budget.


    3-0-2 (Tim and Jess abstain)

  • Fire Department Effective Response Force

    Ian – I turn this over to John.

    Potter – this is about establishing assumptions about fire suppression for Sept 2023. A concern of AP Triton. An effective response force in Brattleboro is outlined… we are looking for an underlying assumption.

    Chief Howard – AP Triton said we need an effective fire fore. That means for a structure fire you should have 16-17 people there on scene within certain times. With Rescue, when we had two medical calls, if a fire came through we had three people. Since July 1, we now have five people on two different trucks. We need to set standards. WE want to have 6 firefighters minimum at a structure fire. Fire grows 16x in 3 minutes, then it grows faster and faster. Call 911 and a couple of minutes pass making the call, then we respond , then we show up with two people… it isn’t safe and we’ve done it that way and gotten lucky. Studies show that safety increase with increased firefighters… 5 person company is better than 4 and better than 3. The people make a difference. People don’t realize the rucks don’t run themselves. One person runs the trucks. Another does a 360 walk around the building to determine a method of attack. Two people.. it’s not good. With three people, the third person can stretch the line. If a fourth, then you can have two people take the hose line. There are OSHA regulations. We can skip that with life safety issues, but we otherwise can’t go in with two people. You’ve all read that my staff is tired and overworked. We haven’t changed staffing . Our call staff has dropped. We rely on mutual aid, but they are in the same boat. Hard time staffing. We don’t know what mutual aid will bring. Depends on time of day. Greenfield and Keene guarantee five people. These are some considerations. We’d like to see new people by June and the town manager has good ideas for funding them. take action to help my staff work safely.

    Ian – thanks. The call staff – that’s volunteer firefighters (yes) That was a thing of the past, for various reasons.

    Potter – just asking you to set the minimum standard as a goal.

    Liz – how does this translate into a number of people we need to hire?

    Ian – this is just a goal.

    Jess – the standard as a goal makes a lot of sense. The need for 6 people seems pretty clear. This is one of the outcomes we were anticipating coming out of a strategic planning process with the fire department.

    Ian – in the AP Triton report…

    Daniel – the standard is a high standard and we’ve never met (17 people). How long have we been as were are and why now?

    Chief – the big change came in 2000 when we did first repose for medical emergencies. We often get more than one, so 4 people are out and 3 can go to fire calls. Most days, vacation, sick days, training… often down to six people. It’s been an issue for a long time. It’s in a report. We were looking for this in the report.

    Daniel – I’ve been on the board for three years. Has this been something you’ve wanted in budgets in the last few years? (yes) and in collective bargaining? (yes) So we are catching up a bit? (yes) So if we approve a repose of 6 that’s still far short of 17. We are in collective bargaining with 4 unions right now. OK. I’m in favor of us setting a g9oal that is adequate to meet all hazard responses.

    Ian – will we check to see the 6 is sufficient?

    Chief – will depend on the EMS process chosen… those are different situations. How it gets funded is key.

    Tim – I’m in favor. A safe and wise thing to do. It’s my last meeting. How would you respond to” the board messing up the relationship with Rescue and fire dept should just go to fires. ”

    Chief – If you go with third party, we will always do first response My staff won’t sit there if we are minutes away. We won’t wait for a third party. Not the right thing to do. I will do that.

    Liz – Good answer!

    Dick Degray – The conversation – I support the conversation, but why didn’t this happen during the budget process? The Chief talked about using $350k… and getting these people on staff by June. You have RTM in 5 days. You would make an amendment of to the budget for additional staff. I don’t disagree with he staff, just the timing of the conversation, the timing, and the funding source. You can accomplish the same thing by voting on Saturday.

    Ian – I want to pause you. That’s appropriate for the ARPA conversation. But now just talk about the standards.

    Dick – you had the Trident report in December – why wasn’t this in the budget discussions? Not at the last meeting in march. That’s a fair question.

    Ian – yea, that’s relevant.

    Jess – whatever change may happen it is a transition in the next year and may not need to be in the general fund budget until we know more. There are two options John proposes that won’t require additional staff, and if they do it in-house EMS, there are other funding sources.

    Liz – transition means it is a one time effort not part of the annual budget process. We should discuss it in a different way.

    Ian – important to discuss now.

    Daniel – there is a conflation – what we are doing now is to set a goal. We can achieve it in a variety of means, but we should set the goal.

    Franz – Chief, you gave three figures corresponding to 3, 4, and 5 people.. what was that a percentage of?

    Chief – life safety of occupants, extinguishing the fire, saving buildings, and reducing environmental effects.

    Franz – send the reference… thanks. In The AP Triton study it says you have 7 available and 2 on EMS calls, then there would be 5 available (yes) so I have trouble squaring that with only two or three people show up.

    Chief – multiple medical calls.

    Franz – wouldn’t it be a firefighter and one contracted EMT? (yes) I’m having trouble lining the numbers all up. A lot of number have been thrown around. Do we need a different staffing model, or more staff.

    Chief – yes, and yes.

    Franz – looking forward to learning more.

    Daniel – Table 1 and Table 2 speak to some of those items .. in the memo. This other questions are collective bargaining questions.

    Ian – other members of the public? No? A motion?


    approved 5-0

    Ian – we’ll take a 5 minute break. back at 8:15 ish.

  • Community Safety Fund – Discussion and Update

    Daniel – (to Fish) most of the stuff is done by staff, meeting multiple hours a week. I know how much time they’ve all put in. A two week pause…. When you pause for two weeks, something else will come in. Sometimes our job is to make decisions for staff can do work. Even that the board voted for the process

    Jess – oh yeah..

    Daniel – what do you think we’ve been talking about? I try to speak up. People can hear this….


    Ian – OK. We’ll reconvene at 8:19. I need to gather my things. Community Safety Fund – Discussion and Update. This is mine. There is brief memo with an attachment, but it wasn’t in our backup materials. There are copies. It’s part of the chart that Town manager Elwell made. Pages 13-18. Apologize for the small print. So, board. Everyone was here for the community safety discussion. This discussion led to hiring of consultants and the selection of volunteers to engage in a dialogue about community safety. The report was presented in 2021 and in it were a variety of recommendations – we’re adopted some, and some are goals, and some can be polices. An element was providing funding for some recommendations. – 13 through 18. It was $200k, but up to $300-350k. The hope is to talk about next steps with this funding and pot of money. There are a variety of community ideas. I’d like to hear from board members, then the community, then let us provide guidance to the Town manager going forward. Grateful fr Joh to step in and look at this. One reason we delayed was because we didn’t have a town manager and we can start this work up again now. So, board members… the fund and where you see next steps.

    Liz – I appreciate John Potter’s suggestion. We promised the public we would provide opportunity to present to us. I support the suggestion that we use town staff and consultants to do a basic review of initiatives to see they are legal and complimentary. It’s a great unknown of what initiatives are out there. Unless we hear about them, we can’t decide what to do with the fund.

    Daniel – I’ll aim for three minutes. Why is this on the agenda? On Dec 12, Jessica wanted to discuss the fund allocation process. last spring we set a goal to develop the process for the fund. We didn’t get to it. I want to make sure it gets on an agenda. There were always more time-sensitive needs. We are discussing the fund today, but it can’t be discussed on its own. It comes out of a process. It was never a recommendation. It’s a way to operationalize… it will be insufficient to do everything in the report. We imagine, two or three of us over coffee, that some organizations raise money, and some community members involved in the report process – it is clear that from our lack of action means we don’t have capacity to move forward. There isn’t a home for this work in town govt. This board is committed. WE want to operationalize as much of this as we can. I’d like to ask for help… a department, a staff person, to bring forward every day this work. Like the sustainability coordinator. Northampton has a dept of community care. Amherst has a similar program. Durham and Boulder, too, and other examples outside of government. I’d like that we consider some amount of this to establish a department to move this work forward to take it off the town manager’s plate. His plate is already full. I’d like subject matter experts.

    Jess – So, we have talked about safety this year – people’s feeling of unsafeness downtown, and we are putting in new cameras at the transportation center, and we could do that because we have infrastructure around the cameras…. staff, funding, etc. There is no infrastructure for the community safety fund other than out goal of finding alternatives to pricing, and so on. I think that creating a department is a helpful idea. To continue the action plan but also to bring in the expertise that we need to take this on. Pieces have slid to the police department, which is antithetical to goals we have. One of the findings was #8, was that poverty homelessness, lack of belonging, were named as largest threats to community safety… developing infrastructure around this and an institutional commitment is essential to going forward. Great place to start .

    Tim- so, I’m a little… I feel like I missed a meeting. I thought this was a general guidance to town staff.

    Ian – I’m hearing two directions toward a staff member or department. To bring expertise…

    Liz – we promised a meeting so people could present proposals and I’m hearing others say a decision already made to go in a direction. It’s a clear difference of opinion. We promised we’d listen community alternatives, then decide. I think you guys have already decided on an alternative.

    Tim – just trying to keep up.

    Jess – this wouldn’t cut off a community process for other allocations. Like small business loans and grants, working with folks on proposals and bringing them to the board, but someone with leadership and expertise to make successful proposals happen.

    Liz – I have a mobile crisis team design suggestion for ARPA funds, and other things suggested outside of town government. A variety of things. A lot of people in the community we promised an airing before we hire a dedicated employee. It could become a defined the police argument that I’m not happy about.

    Ian – how to utilize the funds and what expertise?

    Tim – a couple people seem to be moving forward quickly. Attached to the memo are suggestions that are interesting but need to be discussed. They are all areas of government we don’t do. That’s the first question… what do you want government to do for you? How do we pay for it? I personally don’t believe the town would make a good social service agency. We have a lot of expertise in town. If the town became a quasi social service agency… a department? That wasn’t warned. There seems to be some conversations that didn’t involve me. There were last minute emails that drive me crazy, but some places are doing exciting things, but how would they work here? We’re not Boulder. We never have the open conversation about… we accepted the recommendations. WE thanked the committee. Then it was on us to take the 41… I appreciate the community work and the sentiment. I feel like the police don’t have to deal with all the things… we have to have the conversation about what in the recommendations we will move forward on, and what are dead on arrival. It was a flawed process. The committee did good work, but it wasn’t instructions. It was kind of a mess. It was our job to get that mess together, and not for us to hire someone to have the power to decide. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we did this… proposal? I don’t want to criticize the report. I lived it. Let”s go forward with good ideas. Later on, if we need help…

    Ian – we can give direction for next steps. We need to have this discussion. It is messier when we have less direction.

    Tim – I want to leave with what really struck me was the attachments – all are begging discussion about what people want us to do.

    Liz – this page of recommendations. Elwell left us with a half done response. One of the first steps that we owe ourselves as a board is to have staff take the time to finish up our response to these recommendations. It needs to be done. part 2, is to air the alternatives … we have been promising and need to keep our promises in those two areas – an overall response to how the town feels going forward and we need and airing of what the town has to say with us about what they’ve been working on as alternatives all these years. WE need to know what they are. I don’t see hiring a person to be the answer to that.

    Daniel – I acknowledge my colleagues… I made a proposal for a department. When we create new positions in the past it has been slower

    Liz – and warned…

    Daniel – the warning as for a discussion of the fund and I’m proposing a use. I am looking for buy in to explore this idea further from ian and Liz. Other towns are doing it. Town manager’s office is buys and shouldn’t do this now. We didn’t talk about this when Jess asked because John wasn’t here. We said we’d have an equitable process and this ain’t that. But an idea… any interest in pursuing this? I’ll bring it back up when new members arrive. This work is important. The second recommendation is to operationalize as part of regular town process to avoid a return to usual. That’s what I propose with a position or town to explore this work.

    Liz – I see daniel’s position as an idea dn there are other ideas in the community. We should hear all ideas before efforts are extended. Let’s have an airing of all the community would seek to tell us.

    Daniel – what does that look like?

    Liz – to hire people in the community to help judges what ideas are legal and compliment existing services and are effective elsewhere and to organize the process they are presented in a public meeting and make recommendations.

    Daniel – Like a consultant to look at the recommendations and to get proposals to bring about the recommendations? And we’d develop a forum and we’d consider those things? Sounds similar to what I’m proposing.

    Ian -a discussion of the community safety fund, but we need to give clear guidance. Let me finish. I work with the town manager’s office and don’t feel this work belongs in that office. We assume it because Elwell took it on with his own passion. I don’t think that department is where the work belongs. Under Liz, it sits with Town manager’s office and a consultant. There are monies out there for this work and we are good at seeking out and getting grants. These things will require money. I’d like to use the $350k to leverage more funds. It could be within the town, but maybe not. If any recommendations will be Town functions, like Rapid Response team… where would that be in town?

    Tim – this is frustrating to me. I want to get to the meat and potatoes of the document for a long time. I have wanted to streamline this by saying what won’t happen. We kind ignored a few hat are so dumb that invalidate the full document. I think the next board…. one attended the community safety meetings… get a new document and get more community buy-in. It was a stage and needs to go beyond that stage. I support the idea that a big idea that has worked elsewhere… better to do one or two good ideas rather than many unsure items.

    Liz – I support Tim and deciding what is a municipal function vs other organization’s roles. That reckoning needs to happen. Town staff can wrestle with that and get back to us.

    ian – we don’t have the expertise…

    Liz – the first part is preparing a response to the recommendations. The second part is understanding all the recommendations in the public we may or may not have expertise. There is some expertise, but the town is capable of finding a consultant to bring this process along. But we can’t hire a high-level town staff person. Too far a commitment for right now.

    Ian – we are clear… we are not clear…

    Jess – we need more information about options. Costs. You may find the cost is surprisingly high for the expertise we need. I don’t think the work of reporting the next column is so tough – there has been good work going on around many of these. Does the town manager’s office have time or focus to do that right now.

    Ian – it is up to us.

    Eli KCG – the select bard voted 5-0 to implement these two years ago, making a commitment to all of them. We’ve watched as you struggle to get this back on the agenda. Glad you are doing it now. You voted to accept and implement all of them. Is this the meeting to hear proposals? Set that meeting! The idea of community safety has been bandied about for a few weeks and I’m excited by it. It would provide some continuity, and 20-30 year plans. One more idea – where will it live – put it in the first floor of the transportation safety. that’s where you need community safety resources!

    Frick – as a neighborhood watch organizer I’d like to suggest…I’d like to have a close look at hiring somebody makes sense or if people feel the job is covered so they won’t step up. Empower the people in the neighborhoods. Worked in Frost and Elliot St neighborhoods. Funding to train people in neighborhood watches. That’s my reaction.

    Ian – neighbor to neighbor level…Frost and Elliot…. one light pole still has something painted.

    Azlan Thompson – As Eli said, it is interesting that you want to consider the recommendations. We spent a year on that, and the board approved in March 2021 was to move forward on the recommendations and it was a 5-0 vote. The debate happened. You all voted to move forward. I’m hearing that the board doesn’t have expertise and what Ian said… if you want to support what you voted would be to have someone hired to do the work. I’m hopeful about that.

    Emily Megas-Russel – the main things I want to … I echo the sentiments about whow we’ve had a couple of years to get community opinions – Tim can you give me your attention? – we’ve also done this in review situations. It takes a lot of labor. Is that the conflict we have? The amount of time and labor to explore these issues. We need more time, labor, or energy? I spoke to John about this… he said the Coop could have benefitted from this sort of position so we didn’t have to always call the police. Community members already call town members for help with problems. Someone could really focus their time and labor, and working and paid to do the labor that we’re all doing unpaid, to understand what might be possible? This would answer your questions about what would work for the town. We need time and labor and resources to figure it out. The capacity to weave it all together, too.

    – thanks for a bold proposal. This is an exciting meeting. I emailed all of you I’m Alex Fisher in person!… I want to share thoughts of not using a disbursement methods. One time funding won’t move projects forward. $350k one time is not a meaningful or sustainable amount. Building capacity and infrastructure is one of the only way to get out of this circle to keep coming back to this meeting. I am happy to talk with anyone about this. We need the infrastructure in the town and we actually have the funds to do it. I support tim and liz support something big, and bold…

    Dick Degray – interesting conversation. Tim was saying the board accepted the study but didn’t mention that they didn’t accept all the recommendations. I talked to some people who were involved who felt their input wasn’t taken seriously and left the commits. The two writers didn’t share it with the rest of the comity? I heard that but don’t know if it is true? The last speaker spoke of the money. $350k is almost nothing. The skating project is bigger than that. We haven’t heard any proposals from the public yet. Not in favor in hiring another staff person. Staff are busy but not overwhelmed . It’s been two years. What’s going on? How many ideas put forth tonight. Just hiring a full time staff position? Maybe a consultant to help sort out proposals. This is a minimal amount of money. We don’t need a new staff person. There will be more pushback as more people find out.

    Ann Louise Wagner – there were other pieces with the last speaker. One thing – I spend time in schools about problem solving and the first step is assessing the obstacles in the way. Time and expertise are in the way here. How do we get the time and expertise to bring it to fruition? The second thing, there’s a concept of hearing community input on what to do. That’s what the community safety review was.. getting the input from those most impacted. These are the results and they’ve been sitting here. It’s ok not to have the expertise, just invest money to get folks to do it.

    Jess – here’a a list of things CSR wanted funding for – housing, food shelves, community garden, spaces for belonging and connection, BIPOC run programs, restorative justice programs…and more. Some of the things explicitly mentioned.

    Daniel -yes, that is a list of things. There is not the expertise in this room to bring forward those things. I work for a social service agency. It’s what I do. We don’t have additional capacity. We can barely meet the demand. We can try to build capacity a few ways. We could seek a contractor to learn more about how to do this. We’re bad at creating a process. We could ask a contractor to create a process. We could use the $350k or the ARPA funds or General Fund. Or we could establish a position so we’ll have the long term role. Contractors won’t have the same deep connections over time. There might be other ideas. It’s clear there’s some disagreement here. I’d like to be impactful and sustainable. I’d like to finish in 2 years and see this done. There isn’t a whole lot of anguish but we do need to move forward in a meaningful way. How about we come back in 6 weeks and explore the ideas further and between now and then we can find out how other communities did their programs… my proposal, Liz’s proposal.

    Ian – the Northampton Dept…we can find out.

    Tim – this isn’t part of our warned discussion. The first thing is the document needs to be converted… this isn’t the document for moving forward. make it our own. It sounds like you are proposing a new town department to do something.

    Daniel – what I just said was to ask the town manager’s office to see how other communities have brought forward this kind of work.

    Tim – I don’t know what that means?

    Ian – we warned this to talk about the fund. The recommendations are part of the fund, but the discussion was spending some of the fund – on a contractor or something more permanent. Let’s get more information. It gives the community another warned meeting to discussion. This conversation is about how to spend some of this money.

    Tim – ok.

    Liz – I want to take Potter at his word. WE have two tasks…to finalize the recommendations into our own town document and there is money hat can be spent to assist, then there is money that can be spent to get a consultant hear what they people have to say. These other suggestions are one among many, and this idea doesn’t get primacy because we got five emails this afternoon. We need to hear from the community…

    Jess – the minutes – town staff was to move forward implementing the recommendations – that’s the town document with the implementation table. That is very clear that the board adopted what Elwell adapted for them.

    Ian – it was that some things were done, and some that might get done, and some we were couldn’t do…

    Liz – some said unlawful, this is dumb, etc… we need to establish those as our own document. His chart said we were accepting some and not others. We need to finish that work and have it as an accomplishment.

    ian – we need to move on.

    Fish – so, if I thought I understood, I’m completely lost now. The review took place, was voted on, now $300k is sitting in and account… it means something and can do some good. Do something with it. Find someone who can advance the conversation. Or if all are approved, find what are actionable and find ones to do right away. Or refund the police until the idea is ready. If we won’t use the money for this. I’ve been listening and hearing the irritation – the room better behaved than the board – but a meeting could be set to discuss these issues.

    Franz – the point of order…there is no motion that has been made. No motion, this could go all night. Everyone has a response. My advice is to make a motion that can be voted up or down. Keep to the task at hand.

    Ian – I’ve talked to Bob F about why we do motions at the end of the conversation. In a week we can talk about… I need everyone to stop talking when it isn’t their turn. We can give some direction.

    John U – Want to remind folks that at the end of the meeting I proposed talking to service providers around town to come up with alternatives and it was approved. We have expertise in the community. It can be a fruitful path and not too expensive.

    Daniel – not too clear at the proposal.

    John – It was written up and I can bring it up again…

    Liz – Emily and Shea chose not to move forward with it. It is the same type of community airing of what might be a fruitful alternative.

    Alex Fisher – thanks. I’m going to take a deep breathe. This was a little wild. I’ll take a moment…. I’ll try to follow in the words of behaving well. So much work has been done by the folks you chose to do the work. The RFP process for consultants was so much time and effort. I’m excited how the town has moved forward with a HR department, and hiring Norma Hardy, and John Potter. There is wordsmithing here. Are we committed to community based responses to harm in the community. Do you want to see it happen? Yes or no? A real question. Some are saying yes and others aren’t responding which is disconcerting. Paradigm shift are hard work. Opinions have changed on this board. This fund is a distraction. It’s a small amount of money. The work needs to get done. I hope the town commits to building capacity for safety. Commit to the work, and not fight over ideas and memos and recommendations. I’m excited about ideas that move it forward.

    Liz – I propose a motion – we solicit a review of the community safety review intiatives, hire a consultant as needed, and the community safety fund should [pay for the review process.

    Ian – would you amend it to include info about a consultant being a department?

    Liz – as an alternative?

    Tim – I need to hear this again.

    Liz – (reads motion plus alternative…)

    Daniel – How would we find the … we want the advice of a professional… how wh=ould we go about that?

    Ian – that’s what John will tell us.

    Potter – I would think about different approaches. maybe an RFP.

    Danniel – would it be drafted by the Town Manager’s Office?

    Potter – it would be up to you.

    Ian – it would come back to us.

    Daniel – the trouble with the conversation – give me a minute – we accepted them all but we all had some thoughts about the,. We knew work was needed to unravel it, and then we didn’t discuss it for a year. I know many people in the room, and Liz knows others, and we want to do something for the good of all of us. Let’s not get too upset and take the motion and keep moving forward.

    Ian – John – does the motion make sense to give you guidance?

    John – I think so…I’d like to hear one more time.

    Liz reads again.

    (They make another change)

    Jess – the role of the consultant would provide expertise on reviewing initiatives and complete the CSR recommendations.

    Liz – and this might be one or more people.

    Jess – could be staff or a consultant?

    Ian – all in favor


    Ian – sorry if I was short with you Daniel.

    Daniel – we decide who is chair next week…

  • Town Match for Winston-Prouty Campus Development Grant

    Patrick Moreland – The town has a housing action plan. Winston Prouty center owns 180 acres with developable property and want to explore the potential for new housing. Town is already helping to assess water and sewer needs there, and in your packet is a letter and info asking for $50k to support the development of housing on the propposerty. It would match a grant from Thomson Trust to hire an architectural firm. Funds from the revolving loan fund. It has $190k but we can support this.

    Liz – the revolving loans fund or program income?

    Moreland – the fund begin as program income, then they get returned as unrestricted revenue. Both of them are the revolving loan fund. If we do a community development project and loan out the money as program income, then it comes back as unrestricted revenue.

    Ian – hear from Chloe?

    Tim – I invited Chloe to suggest this to the board. It would be good to show we have some skin in the game.

    Chloe Leary – thanks for considering the request. I’ve been thinking of what an honor to ave an asset we can contribute to the huge problem. We’re an unlikely suspect in housing, but we do need the community to help us. It isn’t our project. We can take it on, but demonstrations of support help us show others. It is a big project. This is a foundational step toward making this a reality. It will happen in phases, but this is a small amount and a big amount and a big step for something critical in our region.

    Ian – Tim, thanks for getting this on the agenda. WE need more units and this is a small step we can take toward that goal.

    Daniel – maybe i missed this – I’m in favor and think the project is really the most important housing project in town. This would be profoundly impactful. is this ament of money timely enough?

    Chloe – perfect timing! Thompson Trust are good partners but good timing to match funds.

    Liz – as we discussed, I support this project. It’s valuable because it is mixed income and mixed use. It can be harder to get public funding. Our support and other support is valuable to the development in terms of not hitting a roadblock. I wish them success.

    Franz – I live in the neighborhood there. Looking at the infrastructure, what about transportation. 300 housing units would change our neighborhood drastically. How will people come and go. There are only two access points – Maple and maybe Canal Street. This would double the homes in the area. I support it, but want to make sure transportation is a prominent consideration going forward.

    Liz – any good masterplan architect will provide for proper egress.

    Tim – it is a plan… it might not be 500 units. It gets us to the point where we can look at this and work it out.

    ian – Town is about to invest in the project. I request that you come back and tell us how it is progressing and hear more as we move forward. We have done some neighborhood meetings. It’s a community project.



  • Um... ARPA?

    Ian – we’ll move on to ARPA preliminary project and set asides…

    (I can’t believe they are doing this now…)

    Potter – you wanted project that the money could go to. We compiled a list of projects. The result was that we have 31 projects with info on all of them and prioritizations. Total was $7.7 million. Two immediate need projects were $350k for increasing fire department staffing and money set aside for Fire EMS set aside. This will allow funding of EMS choice if the board approves it, without bonding or needing to buy ambulances and other start up supplies. If another option was chosen, the money gets returned and reused.

    Jess – It’s late, we committed to being inclusive for ARPA funds but we need to address these and discuss other items….


    Liz – I thank town manager Potter for providing this list. Has a potential mobile crisis team design. I support this.

    Daniel – we set a goal for an effective force, and I said we need to see how to achieve it. I support this recommendation from staff. ASAP. A decent effective response force is needed for public safety. $1.7 million is a lot of money. As we learn more about EMS options, setting this aside gives us an option later on. If we don’t, we won’t have a way to fund it without taking out a bond or something else. The public is probably raising some eyebrows. But if we are serious about these services and this is one time money fr a one time generational action and a lie alignment and we can say yea or yea in September.

    Jess – A good place to stick it. If the path is chosen for an in house EMS service, there can be another discussion about whether to use the funds. This isn’t definitely using it, just saving it in case we want it.

    Ian – $1.75 million is about transparency. The board considering moving to full municipal EMS. ARPA funds have to be part of the conversation. I will vote for this. So when we discuss where we go with EMS, this is an element of the discussion. Not just the differences in services, but we can allocate immense ARPA funds to make it achievable. We’re all thinking about how we will fund it. WE need to think about the funding source. Good to know what costs could be.

    Tim – why do we need a set aside and not just say that might be an option? Convince me why we wouldn’t pay for salaries with something other than ARPA? I object that they are together.

    Ian – to me it is a simple answer. We do a set aside even if we don’t. It would be irresponsible to decide on money if we plan to use it for full fire EMS. WE’d do a set aside without saying it, so this is transparency and this is the amount.

    Tim – ok.

    Jess – the salaries – I think this is a unique situation because we are in exploration and in learning mode right now and haven’t landed on a path. Not fair to put it in the general fund if we don’t need to expand the fire department later on. It is a fair one time use.

    Liz – anomoly…one time.

    Daniel – John?

    Potter – I don’t have much to add. By treating it as a set aside, it frees up the rest for spending before September. And staffing… that’s an allowable use of ARPA funding – a one time cost. It’s appropriate if you want to do it.

    Tim – this is bugging me. I’m going out on a 4-1 vote. I remember back to Kate’s comments about timing.

    Beth K – this is about $350k. My understand is that they need two people regardless of what we do with EMS. In that case it shouldn’t be ARPA money and should be in the budget. Increase the town budget. It’s an ongoing expense. Not a one time expense.

    Daniel – amending the town budget – that’s July 1, and we want to hire these folks yesterday. The budget takes effect July 1, and we need to do it now.

    Jess – the other piece. do we need them no matter what form of EMS – the chart we have shows that there is a model we could have where the FD provides no first response – then we wouldn’t need additional staff. But we heard that he’d do it anyway. That would be a board policy decision.

    David l. – thanks. I object to the motion to tap ARPA for fire dept staff and to set it aside for the FD EMS. On several occasions we called for sustain public input and was assured that would happen. We know have staff generated projects and no sustained public engagement in use of the funds. Start the project with a community discussion of public preferences of how this be spend. I will offer an amendment at RTM to add $350k to change the staffing which I support.

    Chief Howard – as mentioned, we need the positions regardless, and we’ll do first response no matter what as I”m Chief. Regardless of the model, the fire department will do first response and we need three people.

    Dick Degray – I agree with Dave. You could see the dominos falling. Getting public opinion when you are at the finish line. Public opinion should come before the board votes on these. I’m the third to say take away the $350k and bring it up at RTM. This isn;’t transparency. No discussion with the public of ideas of what they’d like to see. No discussions with the public. We have been excluded, and you’ve just taken the town manager’s list, which is none of what the town manager suggested, and you’ve followed like little puppies. You are at the finish line and it doesn’t matter.

    Franz – I like the list of possible projects. So many good things to talk about. A solid foundation for spending the funds. This could have been put off for new board members to participate in. What I really think.. this should eb split in tow. I have less of a problem with a set aside, with decisions not yet made. The issue of spending to hire firefighters that if it is do important, the board can spend money in an emergency, You can allocate funding thought this fiscal year then remaining funds in the coming year. I advocate splitting the motion. Regular budget should fund firefighters.

    Ian – having the motion means we can split it!

    Tim – is the suggestion viable? As it exists, I will vote no on this motion.

    Ian – seems foolhardy to allocate the funds from ARPA if RTM will move to take it from the general fund. There are creative ways to o this. And if this is a recurring cost.. maybe it makes more sense for RTM to consider.

    Jess – operationally, what if it doesn’t pass, can we come back to it.

    Daniel – the issue for me is less about how it gets funded and more about we add to staff quickly. In the financial report we see a challenging overtime line. Hiring three staff will help reduce overtime, which is good for the public. I respect RTM but want action today.

    Liz – one of the compelling things Chief described was having just two firefighters responding to a fire. I want to remedy this sooner.

    Tim – we’re mixing two idea. We have 5-0 to move quickly on hiring.

    Ian – If the board moves to hire immediately using emergency funds, and RTM can fund it as of July 1 or we can use ARPA funds after RTM.

    John – that’s a possibility. can’t think of a reason…

    Patrick – approve the ARPA funding then un-approve it after RTM. Doubt we’ll hire anyone before Saturday.

    Jess – what about temporary funding til July?

    Bob Oeser –

    Frick – Franz said what I had in mind. We want to keep our chief so not hire four people. He’s been doing great job. Why not just fund 3 months. Can you vote on something contingent on RTM decisions?

    John – approve it now, and if RTM changes mind we can revisit it, but can still move forward.

    Bob –

    Daniel – if the board votes to use it to hire more firefighters and then RTM votes to use funds, we don’t have to use their advice. What are the options?

    John – not following you Daniel.

    Tim – if RTM adds fund, the board isn’t legally obligated to use those funds, but we generally do. It’s a clear mandate.

    Ian – what would the amount be for 3 months..

    Potter – just approve the full amount and we can back it out later if they fund it.

    Ian – can we make a motion contingent on that?

    Bob Oeser – Good discussion.I caution a couple of things. $350k is a recurring expense for personnel. The set aside is bothering. It messages that you’ve already made a decision. It’s 3/4 of the ARPA money being used for this issue. ARPA funds are for not recurring expenses, not for start up costs of equipment or starting new programs.

    Daniel – Bob I hear you about the ARPA funds… people need to know it is a lot of money for a set aside. Just putting it out there. As for the decision. No decision has been made. Everyone’s working hard on this. Don’t know what else to say about it.

    Kate O’Connor – This is a decision that needs to wait for the next board. The next board will decide how to spend this. It can wait. Everyone’s acting as if the money will be stolen if there’s no decision tonight. There are two new people. Please wait. Wait til after RTM. No need to set aside anyone. No one will use it. If you just want to say you have a plan, no need to take action tonight. You are rushing and ramming this through. Let the new people do this. I wish you wouldn”t one on this tonight.

    Fish – I view the money like a carnival game – grab the money and stuff it in your pockets. Two parts – some for fire department staffing?

    Ian – $350k to hire three fire fighters…is it recurring cost? We’re split on it.

    Fish – and $300k would be for three months? (No, now through end of FY24.) Still in favor of separating it. It seems like were days away from RTM. Seems prudent to wait to see if we can get that money approved. Maybe this conversation goes away. Separate them out if voting tonight.

    Jess – we need to be fiscally responsible no matter the outcomes of future decisions. We’re funding our standard. Maybe RTM will support us. If not, it is there. We will set money aside and if we need it it will be there.

    (they break it into two motions)

    Staffing at $350k – 3-2

    Set Aside – 4-1 (Tim against)

    I’m done, but they’ll do more! (11pm)

  • It's nothing

    “$350k is almost nothing.” Wow, spoken like a rich person.

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