CLAREMONT — In addition to selecting a new council member, the city council accomplished a few other things Wednesday night.
In the mayor’s report, Charlene Lovett is continuing to press the State House for a budget that will help the city. After she learned of Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of the budget approved by the General Court, “I called the governor and asked him to please sign the budget for communities like Claremont.
“I said, ‘If you’re not going to sign the budget, what is the plan? Because we can’t afford to wait.’ He asked that I also call the Speaker of the House and the Leader of the Senate, which I did,” said Lovett.
“Communities like Claremont do not have the funding to go it alone,” Lovett continued. The budget passed by the Senate included critical funding for Claremont to make infrastructure repairs, and would also ease the burden on local taxpayers by restoring school aid. If that school aid is not restored, the school district will face a 4% reduction in state aid.
“We will continue to communicate with the State House on funding,” said Lovett.
In other news, the July 4 celebration was a big success. Lovett extended thanks to McGee Toyota, the event sponsor, and the city’s parks and recreation department. “Over $1,700 in donations were collected for next year’s celebration,” she added.
In the city manager’s report, Interim City Manager John MacLean said the city got a cheaper deal on its electricity supply. “In the past we’ve done it as part of a consortium with Newport and (several) schools. This year we’re going it alone ... We got the best rates we’ve had in 10 years.”
He said the city had signed the contract as a single entity simply because the other members of the consortium weren’t ready. However, the city got a 30-month contract with Patriot Energy “at a significantly reduced rate,” which will save about $40,000 over the contract period.
In the citizens’ forum portion of the meeting, citizens are invited to speak on non-agenda items for up to five minutes.
Norm Brouin of Ward 3 objected to the plan to repair the city hall roof. The roof, which has been leaking for some time, has gotten to the stage that water is dripping on stage equipment and lights in the Opera House.
Earlier in the meeting, the council had authorized the city manager to move forward with the roof repair project, disbursing funds to the contractor. The council voted to waive its purchasing policy to get the project done, which will begin at the end of October and take four or five weeks. The repairs will tackle the flat roof, and the copper capping of the stone coping surrounding it.
Councilors Andrew O’Hearne and Jon Stone voted Nay. Brouin brought up the subject again in citizens’ forum: “This leak didn’t pop up overnight. We’ve had plenty of time to put it out for bids.”
Brouin also complained that one of his neighbors has installed a tiny house on his property, and appears to be getting ready to put in a few more. “We need an ordinance before this thing gets out of hand,” said Brouin. “I wish you would really push the subject on tiny houses.”
Brouin stated that he feels property owners outside the city limit are paying an unfair amount of taxes.
Jim Contois also spoke during citizens’ forum. Contois has been gathering signatures on a petition to oppose American Recycling’s expansion on Industrial Boulevard. The scrap metal recycler is hoping to open a construction-and-demolition waste transfer station next to the train tracks. After recyclable material is separated for reclamation, the remaining C&D waste would be moved onto railcars at the new facility and shipped to Ohio, where disposal is cheaper.
In previous meetings American Recycling owners and employees said the waste is sorted before it is hauled to the facility, and it would not be hazardous. To keep dust down they intend to spray the debris with water.
“This facility represents a lead hazard,” said Contois. “The city council needs to embrace the Master Plan — 81% said they want to discourage land use that negatively impacts environmental quality. The state Department of Environmental Services (to which the company is applying for a permit) and other governmental services are reactionary. They will not protect our children.”
Contois noted that Maple Avenue Elementary School is “1,000 yards away” and that a residential neighborhood is near the site. He objected to the facility being open to the air. “There’s a brand new transfer facility on Lover’s Lane, just over the line, and it’s closed in.”
There will be a public hearing on American Recycling’s permit application, July 22 at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center.
Editor’s note: The Maple Avenue Elementary School is 2,000 yards south of the proposed transfer station site.