HAMPSTEAD – A decision by the Police Building Committee to shut down construction for the time being did not sit well with two members of the Board of Selectmen.
The board is the authority for making such decisions.
Board Chairman Sean Murphy expressed displeasure and surprise that no one from the Police Building Committee was at the board’s Wednesday, Feb. 26 meeting to discuss construction plans. But he learned that an email he had sent requesting the committee to attend the meeting didn’t reach the committee members.
Selectman Rick Hartung said he had attended the committee’s meeting at the construction site of the new station on Feb. 24, when a decision was made to shut down construction for the time being.
“It was decided that it was prudent to shut down construction operations for now due to the extra costs involved in trying to deal with snow and cold,” Hartung said. He said site work would continue when appropriate.
“The committee plans to come to the board at the March 24 meeting after the numbers get crunched and decisions made on how to proceed staying within the budget parameters,” he added.
Selectwoman Priscilla Lindquist challenged Hartung, saying a single selectman cannot make a decision for the board.
He responded that he hadn’t made any decisions. He said the committee members decided that paying extra because of weather didn’t make sense, after the expense of additional ledge removal. He said the committee members decided that shutting down for the next three or four weeks made sense.
Police Chief Joe Beaudoin, a member of the Building Committee, apologized for the committee’s making the decision when it should have been brought to the selectmen to decide.
Murphy reiterated that decisions such as shutting down construction should have been made by the selectmen, not the committee.
“This board makes those decisions based on the input from the committee, the architect and contractor,” Murphy said.
Beaudoin promised that it would not happen again. He said the decision was made by the committee and the contractor, architect and the Clerk of the Works, and was based on input from all of them but in retrospect, he said he recognizes the actual decision should have been made by the Board of Selectmen.
In other business at the Feb. 26 meeting:
• Hartung asked that reorganization of the board take place prior to the March 11 election.
“I want to discuss changing the chairman position only,” he said, adding he thought this would ensure consistency and that an early reorganization had been done before.
Lindquist said she objected to reorganization of the board prior to the Town Meeting, when voters will have chosen either to return the present chairman, Sean Murphy, or will have seated his challenger, Joe Guthrie.
Murphy said he was not in favor of making any changes now.
Hartung, however, made a motion to be appointed chairman effective at the March 10 Selectmen’s meeting, the day before the election. Murphy called for a second but when there was none, the motion died and Hartung said that now everyone knows where each member stands.
• Ordway Park Committee member Joe Guthrie asked the board whether the Ordway Park Committee’s report in the Town Report is the one the committee submitted. He was told it is a condensed version, as the submission was too long.
Guthrie questioned who was authorized to make changes to the committee’s report, and Murphy responded that Selectmen’s Administrative Assistant Sally Theriault had made the changes, reducing the length and omitting references deemed inappropriate. Murphy said the Board of Selectmen approved the condensation of the report.
Guthrie said he and the committee object to what is included about the committee in the Town Report and are concerned that it was modified by a non-member.