Essex Town Administrator’s Report| Feb 3


Report covers from January 7, 2023, to January 20, 2023

Further Discussion with Respect to Town Hall Bell Tower Roof Repair

At the last meeting, Chairman Pereen indicated that she was working to line up a roofing contractor to repair the storm damage to the bell tower roof on Town Hall.  She has now had the chance for a contractor to look at the job and will be able to update the Board on what is required.

School Budget Collaboration Group Meeting Summary

The TA participated in the subject meeting along with Chairman Pereen and Finance Committee Buttrick on January 18, 2023.  Personnel and officials from the Town of Manchester and the Manchester Essex Regional School District were also in attendance.  The meeting featured a discussion regarding a process that could be initiated to review individual class sizes (as opposed to class size averages) and a plan for possibly funding the school budget deficit with overrides in both towns (as opposed to using District and/or town reserves), with an eye toward sustaining District budget growth for three years at a time.  Selectman Bradford subsequently met with me, Chairman Buttrick, and Town Accountant Soulard to discuss the Town’s specific assessment of this most recent collaboration group discussion.  Chairman Bradford plans to make remarks and to make a recommendation on the district’s operating budget needs at the present meeting.

Massachusetts Municipal Management Association (MMA) Annual Meeting

The TA attended the subject meeting in Boston on January 20 and 21, 2023.  The meeting provides a good opportunity to network with other municipal personnel and to attend presentations concerning current municipal topics.  Further, the meeting includes a full trade show with many vendors offering a variety of municipal products and services. 

Continued Review of Annual Town Meeting Article Topics

At the last meeting, the Board again reviewed the list of possible Annual Town Meeting topics. The TA has revised the document in accordance with the Board’s guidance.

Community Planning Grant Small Group Meeting Summary

Chairman Pereen and Mr. Zubricki met with Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) personnel, the Planning Board Chair and Vice-Chair, and the Town Planner with respect to advancing the goals of the Community Planning Grant on January 17, 2023.  MAPC will eventually develop recommendations for zoning changes to the Fall Town Meeting.  A joint meeting of the Selectmen and the Planning Board will be facilitated by MAPC on January 25, 2023, to formally introduce the public to the project and to begin mapping out the process for the work.

At the meeting on the 17th, the group also discussed the Town’s state of compliance with the new requirements of Chapter 40A, Section 3A, since the Town is a “MBTA-adjacent small community”.  All communities are expected to either be compliant with Section 3A or to file an “action plan” to become compliant with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) by January 31, 2023.  MAPC personnel had already run a tool known as the 3A Compliance Model (provided by DHCD) and found that the Town’s mixed-use zoning district is likely adequate for the Town to achieve full compliance.  To that end, the Town Planner is working with DHCD to submit a formal request for certification to DHCD (which will still require the filing of an “action plan” since DHCD is not yet ready to review requests for actual certification”.

Off-Season Event Sub-Working Group Meeting Summary

The TA attended the subject working group meeting along with Economic Development Committee (EDC) Chairman Jody Harris, personnel from our project consultant (Civic Space Collaborative-CSC), and members of the business community on January 19, 2023.  The sub-working group is assisting CSC to develop details with respect to a planned, off-season even in May of 2023 that is aimed at driving business to downtown Essex.  Generally, the group is focusing on the weekend of May 19-21, 2023, with near-term marketing performed the weekend before, when the Town is usually full of visitors for Mothers’ Day.  The event will be spring- themed and will have a wide variety of activities including some offerings in public spaces and some offerings within local restaurants and retail shops.

Town Placemaking Plan Site Visit Summary

Our Placemaking Plan consultant (Civic Space Collaborative – CSC) led a downtown site visit on January 19, 2023, to brainstorm ideas for a more cohesive and visually-pleasing collection of downtown public spaces.  The Chairman of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) and several members of the business community participated in the tour.  CSC will now review notes taken and suggestions made during the site visit so that some initial recommendations for the content of the Town’s Placemaking Plan may be provided.

Recommendation: Board discussion as necessary.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Holiday

The office was closed on January 16, 2023, in observance of the subject holiday.  This report is available at on the morning after any regularly scheduled Essex Board of Selectmen’s Meeting.

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