Finance Committee, Select Board disagree over storm clean-up By Chris Maza firstname.lastname@example.org
LONGMEADOW – While the Select Board and Department of Public Works Chief Michael Wrabel are following a more calculated approach to dealing with the issue of damaged trees and stumps, the Finance Committee is looking for quicker action to be taken. The Finance Committee will
host Wrabel and at least one member of the Tree Committee at its April 25 meeting to discuss the possibility of additional funding to begin grinding stumps of trees that were felled or taken down after the Oct. 29, 2011 snowstorm in a quicker fashion.
Some members of the Finance Committee disagreed with the Select Board’s desire to wait until later in the spring to develop a plan to address the issue, stating that
residents want to see movement, given the length of time that has passed since the storm. “Five months down the road there is no surprise that there are stumps that need to be taken care of and nobody’s doing a goddamn thing about it,” Committee Member Mark Barowksy said. “[They say] ‘We’re planning,’ which doesn’t mean [expletive] to me and I would say we’re going to give you X amount of dollars and you start doing the work by July 1. Start grinding. Do something. Let the residents of this town know that we’re taking some action.” Included in the warrant for
Town Meeting on May 8 is Article 11, which calls for the transfer of $20,000 from free cash to the DPW’s tree services, which will be used to start the process of stump removal and other tree work not covered by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA). The article also states that once
the growing season this spring is complete, a “comprehensive multi- year plan” will be formulated and presented at a Special Town Meeting in the fall. Several members of the
Finance Committee questioned at its April 4 meeting why a larger amount could not be appropriated and why more work could not be done more speedily.
Select Board Chair Mark Gold
told the Finance Committee that according to Wrabel, the DPW has counted 1,000 stumps along tree belts that need grinding and he anticipates finding close to 800 more adding that in addition to grinding, the town must fill the hole with soil and lay grass seed. “They’re going street by street
determining how many stumps there are and are developing a plan
KINDERGARTEN SCREENING LONGMEADOW – The Longmeadow Public Schools will be conducting its annual screening for Longmeadow kindergarten children on May 17 and May 18. The purpose of the screening is to identify children who are suspected of having special education needs so that further
evaluation can be conducted to determine this. The screening is a quick scan of functioning in the areas of speech and language, auditory and visual processing, motor development and vision and hearing. Although the screening is required for public school students, it is optional for private and parochial school students. Longmeadow children who attend school outside of the public school district, who will be 5 years old by Sept. 1, and have proof of residence are eligible for screening. Screenings are made by appointment only, parents may arrange for this screening by contacting Tammy Filiault at the Office of Pupil Services at 565-4210, ext. 29.
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for taking care of them,” Gold said. “We would much rather take a ‘ready, aim, shoot’ approach than ‘ready, shoot, aim.’” He explained that the Select Board wished to see a more complete plan from Wrabel on a course of action and planned to meet with him twice a month until a suitable arrangement was agreed upon.
Committee member Peter Landon said that while the Select Board has waited, people he talked to said they felt there was “a silence out there” regarding the mitigation of tree damage. Richard Foster, a member of the Capital Planning Committee, said it would take years for the town to recover from the storm and that a long-term plan is necessary in order for the work to be completed properly.
Gold added that in addition to
stumps, the town must address trees that are dead or dying in parks and other areas of town. “FEMA only took down trees
overhanging roads that were immediate hazards, but we’ve got park trees and trees that they cut branches overhanging,” he said. “Come a month from now we’re probably going to have 500 more trees without any leaves on them.” Barowsky said that the stumps
were a higher priority due to the residents’ response to the lack of action.
“The most prominent thing
when you’re in a service organization is to take care of your customers and this municipality is nothing more than a service organization,” he said. “When your customers start seeing you not taking care of their needs, then you’ve got a problem. Take care of the people who are footing the bill.”
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