October 21, 2013
Present were: Mayor Grenier, Councilors Rozek, Theberge, Nelson, Remillard, Benski, Higbee, Otis and Morgan Allain
Others present: School Board Chair Nicole Plourde, Superintendent Corinne Cascadden, PWD Director Mike Perreault, Community Development Director Pamela Laflamme, Waste Water Superintendent Henry Noel, media and public.
Area Agreement Update
Ms. Cascadden reported that Berlin has been discussing an AREA Agreement with Milan who is in the last year of a 3 year agreement for tuitioning students from Milan to Berlin. It is not unique to amend, withdraw or dissolve these agreements. Milan is also looking at a cooperative school with Gorham. With Dummer there are 16 possible students who choose what school they want to attend; however with Milan the AREA agreement affects about 70 students and the tuition from these students is an integral part of the school’s budget. For that reason, the School Board has offered the AREA agreement to Milan to educate all the students. There would not be an option to send some students and not send others.
As Milan discusses the AREA agreement and whether they want to add 7th and 8th grade to the Milan Village School, one question that comes up is about the governance in the Berlin school system and whether there could be a voting school board member from the towns represented by an AREA agreement on the board. Ms. Plourde emphasized that the overall goal is to educate students in the most fiscally responsible way possible.
If Gorham were to tuition to Berlin, a lot more courses could be offered. Minimum standards are harder to achieve with a small school and combining effort could lead to better programming for students. Mayor Grenier indicated that he is not opposed to the idea of allowing representation on the School Board to communities that have a long term AREA agreement. The question could be put to the voters.
Mayor Grenier added that Berlin has a dependent school system that gets its funding from the City Council and he would not support changing the funding mechanism. The Charter could be amended by getting a question on the next election’s ballot.
Councilor Benski confirmed that the proposal is to put on a voting member. Ms. Cascadden indicated that having a non-voting member is an option that is available now. Parents of AREA agreement students are involved in several aspects of their children’s education such as, curriculum development, PTO, and leadership team.
Mayor Grenier stated that adding a board member would create a board of six which may be difficult; adding another member would create an odd number.
Mr. Wheeler informed the Council that CMA Engineers is receiving a National Award from ASCE for the Mt. Carberry Landfill Leachate Siphon Project. The project that CMA was faced with was taking leachate from the landfill to the treatment plant. In a letter to the City Manager, CMA gave credit to Henry Noel who had the idea of creating a siphon from the landfill to the treatment plant where there is a natural elevation change of 600 feet.
Mayor Grenier added that the AVRRDD Board was going to build its own treatment facility. Through the process of value engineering, it became obvious that the best solution to treat the leachate from the landfill was to work with the city. He thanked the engineers, and AVRRDD for the team effort to get this job done. Councilor Theberge added that such a gravity fed system also avoids energy costs into the future. Councilor Rozek commented that we are very fortunate to have Henry at the treatment plant.
Ms. Laflamme reported that WREN will be the nonprofit to carry out the grant and the resolution will need to be amended to name them. A Food Co-op is the natural extension from the Farmers Market which has been very successful. The study will do a market analysis to find the right property and it is the initial step to see if a co-op would work here.
Councilor Otis asked if the feasibility study is made public and Ms. Laflamme replied that it is and its findings will go to a public meeting for input on the benefits and to see if there is community support.
Fireworks Display at Parade of Lights
Ms. Laflamme explained that Sherry Anderson had called asking if there would be a fireworks display at the Parade of Lights because preparation would need to be done ahead of time. Councilor Nelson commented that the Main Street Program should be in charge of funding for fireworks. Councilor Rozek moved to appropriate $3,000 to the Main Street Program for fireworks; Councilor Remillard seconded and the motion carried.
Hutchins Street Reconstruction Cross Section
Mr. Wheeler reported that as a result of a Council discussion about power poles on Hutchins Street, PSNH was contacted about relocating power poles. As it turns out PSNH had plans to move the poles and by working with them, the poles are positioned for the realignment of Hutchins Street.
Wright Pierce was challenged with creating room between traffic and pedestrians and it seems like there is enough room for a sidewalk on one side with a buffer. Councilor Rozek mentioned a full walking loop from the Cleveland Bridge to Twelfth Street.
There being no further business in Work Session, Mayor Grenier called for a five minute recess, then on to the Regular Meeting.