GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 19, 2012

Essex Town Meeting tonight features sewer, safety issues

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — ESSEX — This town’s Special Fall Town Meeting set for tonight is set to ask voters to approve an article opening the door to new options on sewer connections, along with money for police and firefighter safety equipment.

Selectmen are hoping that, if passed, the sewer article would allow people to apply for larger sewer systems than the standard design flow of 330 gallons per day.

After studying the system and the town’s sewer capacity for about five years, officials are ready to offer up a new option. While keeping the moratorium, which simply requires an individual review process, the new article will allow individuals and corporations to apply to use more sewer water per day.

“The proposal is to begin allowing certain control in design flow,” Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki has said. “Instead of just saying that a moratorium is in place, it will say if you desire additional flow under the new rule, the person could develop and ask for more.”

If the change to the sewer connection moratorium passes at tonight’s Town Meeting — slated for 7:30 p.m. at Essex Elementary School — it will need approval by the state attorney general before going into effect.

Also tonight, police will look to residents to pay for a new police cruiser as well as for repairs to headquarters.

The Town Meeting warrant includes three articles related to police funding: whether the town should raise money to pay for a new cruiser, protective body armor and electrical control weapons — basically Tasers, and repairs to the roof of Memorial Fire Station on Martin Street, the headquarters of the town’s Police and Fire departments.

Police Chief Peter Silva has said the items are all sorely needed.

The department has three cars and tries to stay on a cycle of replacing one each year, as the oldest vehicle in the fleet inevitably reaches 100,000 miles of use after three years, a number that, according to Silva, can be translated to about 130,000 miles if you add on the extra idling time that most police vehicles undergo.

The oldest vehicle in the department now has over 100,000 miles on it, he said.

If tonight’s Town Meeting votes to replace the cruiser, the department will either sell or trade the older vehicle, Silva said.

In another warrant article, Silva asks that the town find money to purchase electrical control devices, commonly called “Tasers,” for officers to share, at a cost of approximately $12,000.

Also in the realm of protection, Silva is hoping to outfit all of the force’s officers, about 20, with body protection vests. The vests cost about $1,000 each, but some of that money could be recouped in grants, according to Silva.

Silva said the vests worn by officers now are reaching the end of their five-year lifespan. And, he said, new technology has created better vests.

The third warrant article asks that the town appropriate money to either replace or repair the roof of the Police and Fire headquarters.

Fire Chief Daniel Doucette said patching may sustain the building, but the 40-year-old original roof might have just reached the end of its usefulness.

The Town Meeting will be preceded by meetings of the selectmen and the Finance Committee, respectively, at 6:30 and 7 and also within the school.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.