Thursday, September 2, 2010
Sharon Selectmen lift water ban

SHARON — Claiming that he had received more phone calls, emails and general complaints on the subject, than with any other issue in the last nine years of his tenure, Selectman Bill Heitin was happy to vote this Tuesday in favor of lifting the two-month long water ban in Sharon.
Having listened to DPW Superintendent Eric Hooper, who also has the town’s water department under his supervisory wing, selectmen voted to restore the normal summer schedule for watering lawns which allows for two hours of watering per two days a week for each household.
Hooper explained that the town had fixed two major leaks – one on Billings Street that was fixed a few weeks ago and one on Gannett Terrace fixed that day.
He went on to mention that they knew there were more leaks but there was some difficulty in tracking them down because monitoring equipment could not pick up signals from the town water pipes made from cement and asbestos.
“You basically have to have one person follow the lines using a stethoscope to listen for leaks and that’s some 40 miles of pipe,” he added.
The superintendent indicated that out of 120 miles of pipe in town, some 30 percent is made of cast iron and the remainder is relatively new in the form of ductile iron.
While obviously aware that the water ban had been inconvenient for townsfolk during one of the warmer summers in recent history, the selectmen made no apologies for imposing the ban once it had been established that major leaks in several areas of town had contributed to the draw down of water supplies.
“The main reason we did this was to preserve water in the town tanks to service the fire department,” said Selectman Chairman Joe Roach. “Now, I’d rather have a brown lawn than see someone’s house go up flames.”
That view drew consensus from his two colleagues, Heitin and Richard Powell.
Earlier the board heard from Hooper on the subject of a solar power system that is being suggested for the former town dump on Mountain Street.
This subject came up at a recent meeting of the selectmen when George Aronson, of the Energy Advisory Committee had outlined a proposal for such a development.
Hooper said that the DPW and other town officials were moving ahead. He had asked an outside firm, Weston & Sampson Engineers, Inc., which was involved in the capping of the town dump many years ago, to look at the stability of the capped site. Their goal would be to find out what repair work needed to be done before installing any structures to support solid array solar panels.
Hooper also said that the installation of a 2-megawatt solar system would provide energy for 70 percent of town owned facilities such as schools and town buildings at a significantly reduced rate compared to current contracts for energy supply for the town run properties.
“We are going forward with putting together an RFP to get bids to do this work and we understand that there is a deadline coming up in early December.”
Money from state and federal grants could be available to any developer and this would help defray costs by up to 30 percent, selectmen were informed.
The requirement also includes shovels in the ground, with 5 percent of the project underway before any money can be had, Hooper added.
Silas Fyler, who was representing the energy advisory committee, told the board that he understood that any work done to improve the dump cap would fall into that category. That would have the affect of moving the deadline out quite a way, he added.
As this was merely an informational report, the selectmen were not being asked to vote on anything at this point. The matter is likely to come up before town meeting in November.
Also at the meeting, selectmen voted to approve the application for an alcoholic beverage license for Maria Semyoniv-Perevolka for the Bread N Butter grocery she owns at Sharon Heights.
Also, a surprise visitor to the board was state senator, Brian Joyce, who came with an update on the “state of the state.”
“Last time I was here (a few weeks ago) I presented a rather gloomy review,” Joyce said. “Tonight, however, I have better news. The state has added 60,000 new jobs this year, while house values in Sharon have risen by some 12 percent. I am also happy to report that the state will be awarding the schools some $448,580, against an earlier estimate of $357,00.”
Following that brief performance, another Brian stepped into the limelight, following the senator. This time it was Brian Fitzgerald, Jr., a 17 year-old junior at the Sharon High School.
This Brian brought news that as part of his Eagle Scout project for local Troop 95, he had taken on the job of installing a flag pole at the Sharon Soccer Association fields at the Gavins Pond complex at the south end of town.
“I am putting in some benches and doing some landscaping near the pole,” he added
The young man indicated that the work would be completed over the coming Labor Day weekend with assistance from other scouts.
“I would just like to thank the soccer association for agreeing to let me do this and for their support and assistance,” Fitzgerald, Jr. said. “Also I want to thank the DPW for assisting in digging the hole for the pole and placing it in a concrete as well as lifting up into position.
A dedication of the flag pole will be held in late September, he added, with a date to be announced soon.
Selectmen and all in attendance learned, via Town Manager Ben Puritz, that as well as an Eagle Scout, Brian was a “force on 88s,” or piano.