Pelham Beach Closed Until Further Notice
by Lynne Ober
“We received news from NHDES (NH Department of Environmental Services) that the beach water in long pond at Veterans Park has high levels of cyanobacteria,” began Pelham Parks and Recreation Director Darren McCarthy. “We received formal notice from NHDES at 3:00 p. m. on Tuesday and had lifeguards close the beach based on the directive from NHDES. If you went swimming on Tuesday before we received the notice please shower or bathe as soon as possible.”
Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, can cause health problems. According to NHDES, Cyanobacteria blooms are aesthetically displeasing in sight, odor, and taste, as well as potentially toxic to domestic animals, livestock, waterfowl, and humans. Exposure to toxic blue green algae can cause nausea, vomiting diarrhea, mild fever, skin rashes and eye and nose irritations. NHDES urges that anyone exposed shower or bathe as soon as possible. NHDES reports that to date there have been no documented cases of cyanotoxin-related illnesses in New Hampshire.
NHDES has been monitoring public beaches for more than 20 years. Today they take water samples at more than 180 public beaches and carefully monitor for any pathogens that pose health risks. For more information on this NHDES has asked residents to call them at the following numbers:
Judy Conor - Director of Limnology - 271-3412
Sara Sumner - Beach Program Coordinator - 271-8803
Kim Bleier - Beach Inspector - 568-7765.
McCarthy will be monitoring the situation at the beach and closely working with NHDES experts. Until he gets clearance from NHDES the Town beach is closed.
Family Fun Day A Hit on a Hot Summer’s Day
by Lynne Ober
It’s an annual event that it is enjoyed by parents, campers, and staff who attend Summer Camp in Pelham. For the first time, Family Fun Day was held at Dennis Lyons Memorial Park, with the addition of the skate park earlier this year, there was even more for attendees to enjoy.
According to Camp Director, Mary Johnson, approximately two hundred and fifty kids were expected to participate. “Last year we had a day here and then had Family Day at the camp. This year we decided to hold Family Day here.”
Counselors, Junior Leaders, and campers joined teams and played basketball together.
At the skate park, Counselors watched the tricks performed by both campers and Junior Leaders. “Watch me,” called one happy cherub as he shoved off the steepest ramp at the skate park. His mother weakly smiled and tried not to envision a crash at the bottom, but he quickly arrived safely with a huge grin.
A climbing tower was set up under the trees. Trained instructors helped campers into climbing gear, gave them a brief overview of what to do and then carefully held the ropes as campers climbed into the sky. Those waiting in line called out encouragement as the climbers tried to reach the top. Once a climber reached the top or asked to be helped down, the two instructors gently lowered them back to the ground. “Ooooh. I’m flying,” called out one camper on the way down.
A giant slip and slide was the place to be with the “I wanna get wet crowd.” Campers took a long run and then slid down the slide while water misted and sprayed on them. “Get really wet and you’ll go really far,” called out one camper to the others who were waiting in line. Counselors took advantage of the spray and stood where they could get benefit from the cool mist while watching.
A line formed at the bounce house. Campers who were bouncing called out to parents watching and waved to passers-by. “Look at me. I’m really jumping high,” squealed one camper to her mother.
The giant inflatable obstacle course was a hit. Campers could go through alone or could race a fellow camper to the finish. “Cowabunga!” yelled one boy camper when he beat his friend. “Let’s do that again.”
“The amusements [climbing wall, inflatable pieces] were paid for with the grant we received from the Hillsborough County DCYF Incentive funds,” said Pelham Parks and Recreation Director Darren McCarthy. “We wouldn’t have been able to put on this event this year without that grant.”
“The Junior Leaders organized this event,” said Johnson. “It was a great learning experience for them.”
“Food and drink provided by our Junior Leader program will be used as a fund raiser for their end of the season trip to Six Flags amusement park,” said McCarthy.
“Chunky’s donated all the ice. Our Camp Arts and Crafts Director Julie Slattery’s dad donated the rolls. The grandfather of Anthony Shepherd, one of our campers, donated the hot dogs. Hannaford’s donated to the food too,” said Johnson. “It’s a real community event and everyone pitched. I think that Grand Rental always gives us an exceptional deal on the rental of the inflatable amusements.”
Johnson, who along with McCarthy, planned to grill hamburgers and hot dogs was thrilled that the Junior Leaders would use the money for their trip to Six Flags. “Tickets are really expensive and this makes it easier for all of them to go,” she smiled. “It’s just a good day for everyone all around.”
Code Enforcement Process Explored
by Lynne Ober
Growth has brought many unplanned consequences to the Southern Tier of New Hampshire. No where are growth pains more keenly felt than in Pelham.
Pelham Selectmen, who receive frequent questions from residents about code violations and the lack of resolution of said violations, asked Code Enforcement Officer, Roland Soucy, to meet with them and examine the process that is used in determining whether a code violation has occurred or not.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Victor Danevich carefully explained that Selectmen didn’t want to get into the specifics of any one code violation, but instead wanted to explore the process and understand what worked, what didn’t and what the Town needed in order to make the process work.
Toward that end Selectmen had prepared a list of five questions that they had shared with Soucy. Danevich said that he would read each question in order to begin the discussion.
The first question asked about how a reported code violation is tracked; how follow-up is done in a timely manner.
Soucy explained that the Planning Director tracked complaints. “Every complaint is recorded and a file started,” Soucy stated. He told Selectmen that the Planning Director would assign him to go out and investigate.
“It’s a losing battle managing complaints,” Soucy said, explaining that the number of complaints was growing. “We are reacting to everything – even anonymous complaints. Taking anonymous complaints is a problem. They [people who complain anonymously] are trying to use me to abuse somebody.”
When Danevich asked if the complaints were valid, Soucy seemed to indicate that they were, but turned the conversation to the amount of written documentation required of him. “It’s tough to do that documentation. The Planning Director is the Zoning Administrator and he has final say.”
When Selectman Jean-Guy Bergeron commented, “It is important to document in writing. We need that kind of documentation to follow a case,” Soucy maintained that it took a tremendous amount of time for him to generate a document and contended that it didn’t make any sense to generate a file on every complaint.
As Selectmen continued to query the documentation process, Soucy offered that he used to sit with the Planning Director and make a brief verbal report. He told Selectmen that he preferred to use that method and to have the Planning Director document the process, again reminding Selectmen that he was no longer Zoning Administrator.
When Selectman Tom Domenico asked Soucy how Selectmen would answer questions from constituents about code violations being investigated if written files were not maintained, Soucy said, “That’s not your job. The majority are anonymous calls.”
Danevich stepped in and said that the request for written documentation goes beyond the Planning Director. “We [Selectmen] are asking for documentation. We feel that the Town has grown to a point where it’s beyond where we can deal with it [code violation] with a conversation.” Danevich stated that the purpose of this discussion was to determine what was needed to adequately do Code Enforcement in Pelham and said that Selectmen were aware that this was a part time job with a stipend of $600 per month.
Soucy agreed that the job had grown and mentioned that he and the Planning Director disagree on issues.
Selectmen agreed that the job was growing, that the number of complaints was growing, “but we are not comfortable without documentation and we are uncomfortable with the level of documentation that we have. One of the ways to correct this is to increase the amount of documentation that we have.”
Selectman Hal Lynde asked Soucy if he had access to office staff and if they supported him. Soucy said they write letters for him. Soucy also said that the files were in better shape than he had ever seen them and credited the Planning Director with this organization. “If we can’t find it, then we don’t have it. The files are great. He [Will d’Andrea] has done a great job of pulling those files together.” Soucy also commented that the Planning Director was managing the files.
Lynde commented that he was “struggling with this process” and noted that Soucy was only one component of the entire process.
The conversation then turned to how it was determined if there was a violation. “Usually it’s obvious,” Soucy began but again noted that if he and the Planning Director disputed whether it was a violation or not, the Planning Director now made the decision since Selectmen had made him Zoning Administrator, a position that Soucy held at one time.
The next question revolved around whether Soucy had time and support to prepare documentation, but that question had already been partly answered. Soucy again stated that he didn’t believe they should accept anonymous complaints and said that people wanting to complain should put their name on a form and sign it.
Bergeron suggested that Soucy could use a 3-part form when investigating an issue. “That way part of the documentation would be done while you are investigating. One part you’d keep, one to the Planning Director and one to Selectmen.”
Question four concerned code violations with signs. Soucy said that some people are extremely cooperative and others not so cooperative. Soucy indicated that there are a lot of anonymous complaints about signage, stating he finds it hard to deal with anonymous complaints.
The fifth question asked why it took so long to deal with an illegal apartment. Lynde asked if these cases were taken to court, but Soucy said he didn’t find that very helpful.
Lynde suggested that taking a violator to court, having the court order the illegal apartment removed and then going back to court if the apartment was again reinstituted might be a better way to deal with the issue.
Soucy said that his process was to ask the owner to remove the kitchen. “That’s really all I can do. Ask them to take out the sink, the stove, the refrigerator. However, six months later it’s all back in place and I go through the process again.”
Lynde urged him to think about using the court. “If the judge ordered the kitchen removed and then it reappeared, that would be a violation of a court judgment.”
Town Administrator Tom Gaydos concurred with Lynde. “If you have good documentation, you have a real hammer to go back and charge the $100 per day violation fee.”
Danevich added, “I get the sense that we are being gamed. How do we get ahead of that?”
Soucy replied that it was becoming a full time job and he didn’t want a full time job.
Danevich wrapped up the conversation by thanking Soucy for his time and asking him, “What do you need to be successful? What does it take to do the job right? Right now I’d say it’s a C- or a D+ in Code Enforcement. We want to work with you to be successful.”
Soucy responded that he had been managing it well until he was asked to document and pointed how out he used his log book and how he had used the log book in court. “I understand that you want more documentation.”
Danevich, again thanking Soucy for his time, said that they’d continue working on needs and concluded, “Firmness, fairness and good documentation are needed in this area.”
Toddlers and Parents Enjoy Music at Nesmith Library
Another successful program, Sing-Along with Penny Kohut, was enjoyed by participants at Nesmith Library. Penny entertained the audience with an interactive, humorous, musical program designed to get parents and toddlers moving and laughing.
Penny explained to the audience that she had one and only one rule – “Don’t behave – Just be.”
To warm the audience up, she began by having them wave their hands, kick their legs and then the favorite of the toddlers – “lie on the floor and kick your legs like a beetle.”
Penny used a variety of musical instruments while getting the audience to sing and dance with her. It was a wonderful way to spend the morning.
VFW Agrees to Revised Deed for Old Town Hall
by Lynne Ober
“This is a great deal for us,” grinned VFW Commander Charlie Mooskian as he told Selectmen that the local VFW post would sign and accept the deed for Old Town Hall.
Board of Selectmen Victor Danevich echoed Mooskian’s joy. “This is great news. We worked out a compromise.” Meeting on July 12 with Mooskian, Town Administrator Tom Gaydos and Selectmen modified the deed.
“We took out the clause about Town Hall reverting to the Town if the VFW didn’t use the hall for three months, but we kept in the clause about the insurance,” explained Danevich.
Selectman Ed Gleason said that the VFW already had an insurance binder for $450,000. “If that policy lapses, old Town Hall will immediately revert to the Town.”
The zoning restrictions that Mooskian originally objected to remained in the deed after Danevich had explained that every other deed in Town listed variances granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The vote on the deed was 4 – 0 – 1 with Selectman Hal Lynde abstaining. Lynde also abstained from signing the deed.
During reports by Selectmen at the end of the meeting, Lynde explained his reasoning. “I had some reservations about giving the Town Hall to the VFW because I have some reservations about any group of people putting a warrant article on the ballot to dispose of Town property. I want to make it clear that I never took any action to slow down the process.”
Lynde also explained he had asked Gaydos to determine if the transfer is legal, but noted that Gaydos had been unable to determine that. “The best answer was muddled,” he commented.
Lynde also was concerned that the warrant article said, “At no cost to the Town,” and stated that the Town was already incurring costs. Both CERT and PTV need homes or expensive renovations on their current home. They could have used old Town Hall at no cost. So I’m concerned about that clause.”
Nevertheless, the deed has been transferred. Selectmen and VFW were pleased to sign the deed and do the transfer at the meeting. Danevich said that he hoped the local VFW chapter prospered for many years to come.