streetlight turn-off delayed a month;
new reverse 911 system proposed
DUDLEY – The posting of streetlights to be turned off has begun and will continue, but actual implementation of the shut-off will not occur until after November 5, to allow for further discussion by selectmen.
Board members at their Monday meeting made public safety their primary topic. Selectman Paul Joseph began the discussion by saying that he has had more calls about streetlights than any other issue in his nine years on the board.
Voters at last May’s town meeting authorized the board to turn off selected street lights in order to save approximately $11,000, part of a larger budget cut. Mr. Joseph calculated that the cost to turn off the streetlights and the cost to turn them back on would be about $10,000. Spending $10,000 to save $11,000 was not a wise investment, he said.
Selectmen Steven Sullivan disagreed, saying the voters at town meeting had spoken. “It’s a symbolic act on the perceived wishes of the voters, the people that showed up and voted.” He noted only 100 people, out of 6500 voters, came to the meeting. “People don’t care,” he said.
Selectman John Marsi argued for keeping the lights on. “I don’t think people were thinking about streetlights at the town meeting.” He said the lights should stay on for safety reason, citing “a rash of housebreaks” recently. He said they don’t happen on the main roads, but in people’s neighborhoods. “I’d be beside myself if something happened.”
Selectman Peter Fox told members of the board that he had also had many phone calls. The callers put “constructive criticism” on him, he said.
The money to keep the lights on could come from “free cash,” which is money not spend in the last fiscal year. The preliminary free cash amount is $212,000, which has yet to be certified.
Selectmen will consider the streetlights along with other department priorities for the allocation of free cash at a future meeting, and moved to reschedule the actual streetlight turnoff until after November 5, the date of the fall town meeting. Chairman Jonathan Ruda asked Town Manager Peter Jankowski to prioritize the requests from town departments to reinstate the cuts that had been made at the May meeting.
New reverse 911 system
Fire Chief Dean Kochanowski reported that he and other town public safety officials have met with Emergency Communications Network (ECN), a company that provides a high speed notification system called CodeRED, which allows local governments to alert citizens of public safety emergencies.
The chief noted two recent failures of the existing system, when residents were not warned of a water supply problem, and a major storm, in a timely manner. The system currently in use is that of the Sherriff’s office, and is scheduled to be removed from service at the end of the fiscal year.
The CodeRED system will assure that a “high percentage of people will get the message,” said the chief.
Nearby communities that use the system include Grafton, Northbridge, Sterling, and West Boylston, communities with which he is familiar. The board requested that the chief also talk with communities that are not on the ECN reference list, to get a complete picture.
- Wednesday, 03 October 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News