By: Susan Gary, Civic Association Director
The Utilities Undergrounding Task Force met for the first time on Thursday. Members, appointed by the town council on May 12, 2015, are Dennis Bottorff, Anthony Dowell, Susan Gary, Donald Gulbrandsen, Thomas Parker, Wilbur Ross, and Jeffrey Smith.
The first meeting addressed organizational issues.
In a unanimous vote, Jeffrey Smith was named committee chair and Wilbur Ross was selected as vice chair.
Committee members shared their reasons for getting involved in the undergrounding effort and described what they hoped to accomplish on the task force. The group unanimously supported the town’s undergrounding program with several emphasizing the need to complete the town-wide project as quickly as possible.
Town Manager Thomas Bradford led the meeting initially and asked Town Attorney John Randolph to brief the task force members on ethics and the Sunshine Law.
The task force agreed to meet on the first Tuesday of the month at 9:00am. The first "working session" is scheduled for Tuesday, July 7, at Town Hall.
During the morning session, town resident Andrew Roddy addressed the task force and emphasized that undergrounding is critical for public safety reasons. In past years, he has been the victim of two fires on his property due to faulty overhead utility lines.
The committee also heard a brief report by town consultant Maziar Keshavarz on sequencing and phasing the underground program. Mr. Keshavarz informed the committee that undergrounding will present many major challenges and require much cooperation from the community.
The July task force meeting will include presentations of the various underground utility reports prepared by town consultants. The August meeting will examine procurement options and "lessons learned" from other municipalities that have engaged in similar undergrounding projects.
A task force mission statement in draft form will be published soon.