Hudson Selectmen, Sans Two, have Conclave with Department Heads
September 8, 2017
by Len Lathrop
The Buxton room allowed everyone to have a seat at the table. The goal was to determine what the state of the town is in the eyes and minds of the professional staff. This was a follow-up on a meeting held last summer where a list of priorities of the town was printed on a poster in the selectmen’s room.
Selectmen Luzsey, Morin, and Routis asked the department heads what they saw as most important for the town, not just their domain. It seems that IT (information technology) systems and then space at town hall were at the top of the list.
After introductions for the viewing audience, department heads were asked what their needs were. Lisa Nute, director of IT, began speaking of the town’s information backbone with a need to review the system for the future. Second she mentioned personnel needs. She mentioned that two in her department were planning to retire. Police Chief Jason Lavoie mentioned the need for space for the police department and some of the options they have been done to help find space for everyone. An example was taking four cubicles in the detective area and turning that into seven cubicles. As our town grows and there is more demand for service, additional officers will be needed. Then he focused on the communication towers in Hudson that relay messages to and from the police. He mentioned that towers are in need of repair and trees around them have grown and could be reducing the effectiveness of the transmissions. A new ladder truck led the list for Fire Chief Rob Buxton. With the renovation of the Lenny Smith Central Fire Station completed and the new station on Lowell Road approved and contracts awarded, he was going to look to some federal funding to expand the rank and file firefighters. Both chiefs spoke of dispatch and where that project stands.
Town Clerk and Tax Collector Patricia Barry spoke of two big issues – the storage of records and files – many are off site with a storage company in Nashua, where it is hard to get the records and some things are lost and not replaceable. She also mentioned how many citizens are using the late town hall hours on Thursday night to the point three clerks will be needed. Currently, the two folks who work on Thursday night take time off on Friday afternoon, but when three are needed, that would short the office too greatly on Friday afternoon.
Conversation started about the Oakwood Avenue recreation building and whether that building could be re-purposed with the recreation service and management moved completely to the Community Center. Apparently there has been talk about the IT department being housed there, and, with the fiber optic cable already there, the department not being in the town would be transparent. Storage for many departments is an issue in the town hall building and that also might be a solution. Recreation Director Dave Yates’ biggest concern about leaving Oakwood is the storage in the garage on the Oakwood site that he reported was packed with equipment and needed items.
Assistant Assessor Jim Michaud mentioned that they had just finished the five-year reevaluation of all properties in Hudson and have already started on the next one. He mentioned how overused town hall is and the storage issue.
Newly hired Land Use Director George Thebarge mentioned the CIP plan and its implementation, advocating to Town Engineer Elvis Dhima to speak about specific projects. He started with traffic work citing the new turning lane at Central and Kimball Hill; the work on the new lights at Lowell and Pelham; the removal of the extra telephone pole at the corner of Lowell and Cedar; and work on retiming the Library Park light with the inclusion of a traffic camera to help with controlling traffic movement. Next, he spoke of the work needed on the Gordon Street water tank and the question that was asked at the meeting a year ago as to weather it should be repaired and repainted or replaced with a cement tank. Selectman Luzsey asked about water supply and if the town is continuing to look for a new water well. Dhima rattled off what the town has available per day and what is used and mentioned that Pennichuck and Hudson has an agreement for up to 3.5 million gallons a day available if needed. Both Dhima and Luzsey agreed that the town agreement with Nashua waste water treatment plant is currently meeting the town’s need but are holding the town’s growth hostage to sewer capacity.
Next Recreation Director Yates spoke of a new floor at the Community Center as the current one is wearing out and gets a lot of usage.
Last in the roundtable was Town Administrator Steve Maliza who started by saying his first priority was to find ways to pay for all the department heads’ needs. He spoke about how the ballot that voters will see in March when the town must follow HB 251 and that all ongoing savings for capital reserve projects must be listed as a warrant of their own and not part of the operating budget warrant question.