Northfield Selectboard approves 3 more uses for ARPA funding

  • Northfield Town Hall. The Selectboard recently approved another round of allocations for its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, with money being used to buy Town Hall door locks, office equipment and a five-piece desk for the board’s meeting room. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

For the Recorder
Published: 12/16/2022 4:29:46 PM
Modified: 12/16/2022 4:27:08 PM

NORTHFIELD — The Selectboard approved another round of allocations for its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, with money being used to buy Town Hall door locks, office equipment and a five-piece desk for the board’s meeting room.

New locks for Town Hall meeting room and exterior doors were approved unanimously during the Dec. 6 meeting at a cost of roughly $25,152. Town Administrator Andrea Llamas said the Town Hall has almost run out of keys to the offices, which she described as a security issue because there are “a lot of keys out there to people’s offices.”

The $25,152 includes paying for a locksmith to come and remove all the doors that work with the existing keys. The locksmith will then change the building to have a master key and key fob, which will be accessible to Town Hall employees and also the Police and Fire departments.

Llamas said if an electrical issue arises, there will be a key in a lockbox behind Town Hall. When the key is put back into the lockbox, the code will be changed and that new code will be relayed to the fire chief, police chief, Highway Department and whoever else might need to access the lockbox.

The second ARPA funding allocation the Selectboard unanimously approved was $8,975 for Town Hall office equipment. The equipment (a cross-cut shredder and a folder inserter, plus a stand) will be for Treasurer Michele Turner. Llamas said the folder inserter and stand will be for folding and inserting bills and stuffing envelopes.

Additionally, a five-piece Selectboard meeting room desk costing $9,039.29 was approved by a 3-2 vote.

Selectboard Vice Chair Heath Cummings and Clerk Bernard “Bernie” Boudreau were opposed to the idea of using ARPA funding for the meeting room desk.

Boudreau said he opposed using the ARPA funding on meeting room desks because “there might be something that we need more than this.”

Cummings said he wasn’t in favor because the company that would be manufacturing the desks — MassCor, which stands for Massachusetts Correctional Industries — profits off people in prison. According to MassCor’s website, the program runs 17 manufacturing operations, teaching vocational skills to approximately 500 inmates.

“I don’t like for-profit prisons,” Cummings said. “I just don’t feel like capitalizing off somebody who may be in jail for whatever means. … I’ve never been a fan of MassCor and I don’t want anything to do with supporting it.”

Selectboard Chair Barbara “Bee” Jacque and members Alex Meisner and Mary Sullivan-Bowen voted in favor of the new desks, with Sullivan-Bowen saying she feels this project will give inmates something to do.

“I understand what he (Cummings) says about using prisoners to do work,” said Sullivan-Bowen. “I know nothing about that, except that my gut feeling is it gives them something to do and a purpose. It says, ‘Look, here’s your second chance.’ We’re all about rehabilitating.”

Jacque said she was in favor of the desks to help with the positioning of microphones, cords and other equipment used during meetings. Meisner felt the desks would be “a nice gesture to enhance our local government.”

Business Park Committee dissolves

Also during the Dec. 6 meeting, the Selectboard approved dissolving Northfield’s Business Park Committee, effective immediately.

According to Meisner, who had met with Business Park Committee member Barry Bordner, members are coping with health and personal matters, making it difficult for them to continue their work. On top of this, Meisner said the committee felt there was a lack of support from the town, “making it very hard for them to want to meet and get anything accomplished.”

The purpose of the Business Park Committee was to evaluate the prospects of creating a multi-use business park in town, including potential locations, the nature and types of businesses that might be housed there, public or private ownership opportunities; and to outline the actions needed to create the park, according to the Northfield town website. The committee was formed in late 2018 out of an interest in fostering jobs and economic development, and would report no less than quarterly to the Selectboard.

According to Meisner, Bordner said many individuals are still interested in the Business Park Committee, and would like to see the work be passed on to people like Mallory Sullivan, the town’s new grant development director, and others to “carry the torch forward in a non-committee fashion.”

Jacque noted the Selectboard can always reconstitute the group as something potentially larger in the future.

Sidewalk plowing

Highway Superintendent Tom Walker also came before the Selectboard to report that the Highway Department is in the process of getting a smaller sidewalk plow that would be more maneuverable and narrower that its current equipment. Walker said this plow would take up 4 feet, rather than 5½ feet as the department’s other plow has.

He said he plans to use the sidewalk plow on Main Street, head up Moody Street, turn onto Highland Avenue and circle back to Main Street to see how the machine manages.

“I don’t want to take this new machine and beat it up the first year,” Walker noted when describing the planned route. “Parker Avenue, for instance, is horrible.”

A notice from Walker, sent by email on Wednesday, noted that the snow removal equipment for the sidewalks is not in the town’s possession yet.

“At this time, residents are still responsible for removing snow from the sidewalk abutting their property,” Walker’s notice states.


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