Freedom — August 10, 2009 — Freedom town officials are considering a ban on fireworks; citizens can voice their opinions at a Public Hearing during the Select Board’s meeting on Monday, Aug. 24.
The issue was raised by Police Chief Josh Shackford at the Select Board’s meeting on Aug. 3. Shackford introduced his idea by stating that it’s something that Fire Chief Gene Doe would likely support and something that he himself, in the past, has resisted. His thinking on the matter, however, has changed.
According to Shackford, complaints about fireworks has increased dramatically over the last couple of years. He noted that use of fireworks used to be fairly limited to the 4th of July weekend and then they’d be all over with; over recent years, use has expanded to the point where there are fireworks every weekend at one place or another around town, and citizen complaints about the noise roll into his office.
Chief Doe concurred, saying that though he doesn’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, the fireworks are getting out of hand and his concern is the fire hazard and potential personal injury that fireworks present.
The Police Department, under current regulations, has little ability to crack down on private fireworks; action is only possible in response to a citizen complaint about noise. Shackford suggested an ordinance — presented to voters as a warrant article – banning all fireworks, including firecrackers. The Select Board has scheduled a Public Hearing on the issue, to be held during their regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Aug. 24, at the Town Hall.
Shackford informed the Board about two additional items. First, he’d like to post a sign at the end of Haverill Street and facing the Mount View housing development, prohibiting ATVs. Haverill Street starts at the southern end of Mount View, where it intersects with Maple Street; from there it snakes south along the shore of Ossipee Lake until it meets Pauli Point Road, turns sharply left, runs by Totem Pole Park, and ends at Pequawket Trail.
According to Shackford, while both Mount View and Totem Pole allow ATVs, they are not allowed on town roads, and the problem of ATVs using Haverill Street has been escalating. The Select Board directed Road Agent Scott Brooks to install a sign.
Second, Shackford informed the Board about complaints of fast-moving traffic on North Broad Bay Road. The speed limit is 30 mph and when the department clocked vehicle speed, they found that drivers were sticking to the speed limit. Shackford said that “it looks like they’re flying” but they in actuality are driving slowly enough. He and the Select Board noted that in order to lower the speed limit, an expensive road survey would need to be completed and it’s only a problem a few weeks every summer. No action was taken.
Maintenance of Town Buildings
A citizen asked from the floor if all the required repairs to the Town Hall had been completed. The Board had closed the Town Hall in June until safety repairs could be completed and the building re-opened for public use in July. According to Board Chair Les Babb and Chief Gene Doe, most of the repairs have been finished. Doe needs to call back the contractor to work on the upstairs doorway that leads to the back entrance behind the stage, and a ripple the carpet in the ground-floor entrance way needs to be removed.
The citizen commended that work that has been done, such as privacy locks on the bathroom doors to replace deadbolts, and emergency exit sign illumination. The Board was asked if all this work had been put out bid. Babb answered that it had not, because the bidding process is time-consuming and the Board needed to get the building open again soon as possible. Put out bid, the building would likely have remained closed into autumn, which would have made citizens unhappy — for example, the building is booked solid this week for Old Home Week events.
Asked how much the repairs had cost, Babb estimated $10,000. Which prompted more questions from the floor: Do town officials complete a yearly review of public buildings? Does a maintenance schedule exist for town buildings? Is it cost effective to wait for something to break and then fix it? Would it more cost effective to establish a schedule and replace items before they break down?
No firm answers to these questions were achieved during the course of the meeting, but the questions did inspire an informative and heartfelt discussion about the Select Board’s budget-building process, the voters’ budget-approval process, the town tax rate,and the Select Board’s desire to balance town expenses on the one hand with an affordable tax rate on the other.