Annual Town Meeting – May 10, 2016

Alford Town Hall

Alford Town Hall

Alford’s Annual Town Meeting will be held at the Alford Town Hall on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 At 7:00 P.M. Ten articles are included in this year’s warrant. Click Annual Town Meeting to view or download the warrant in Adobe PDF format.

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Municipal Light Plant (MLP) April 2016 Update

MLPYour elected MLP Board wants to update the town on the progress to date on moving towards our goal of installing a state-of-the-art, “last-mile” fiber network in Alford.

We have faced considerable obstacles in our efforts, but have made notable progress, and have now settled on a plan to go forward. As we had reported in 2015, we had considered a number of options, including most significantly a technical and financially beneficial collaboration with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), the state agency to which $40 million had been allocated to assist with last-mile fiber installations in underserved Western Massachusetts towns. Unfortunately, in March 2016, MBI unexpectedly announced that the Governor’s office had imposed a “pause” in MBI’s activities while its policies, practices, and priorities undergo review. After several candid discussions with MBI leadership, we have concluded that we cannot count on MBI as a collaborator in the near term, though we still anticipate receiving financial support when the “pause” is lifted.

We then considered a “public/private” relationship with a large company, which could have reduced the build time and the upfront costs to the town. But legal issues with regard to the structure of such a relationship, as well as other factors – which we had mentioned in an Information Session in 2015 – led us to reject that option as too uncertain.

The Board has now settled on exploring a “Design/Build/Operate” option, in which we contract with one company to do all three functions. The Alford MLP will have total control over all aspects of construction and operation, but the company that designs and builds it will have an incentive to produce the highest quality product, since it would be the contractual operator.

We have identified several qualified companies and will be evaluating them in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we have been taking the necessary preliminary steps to prepare for the work to come. Most importantly, we are applying for the required licenses from National Grid and Verizon to place our fiber on their utility poles, a necessary first step. We have arranged for the insurance and surety bonds that the utilities require, and continue to consult with our outside counsel to ensure that we are abiding by all pertinent laws and regulations.

Perhaps the most visible sign of our confidence that we’re ready to move forward is the fact that the Town of Alford, with the approval of the Select Board and the participation of the Town Treasurer, has arranged the first round of borrowing under the $1.6 million authorization approved by Alford voters last year. We intend to use the $200 thousand borrowed this week primarily for the costs associated with the survey, evaluation, and “make-ready” work on the poles and to fund the modest initial operating costs of the MLP Board.

We all want the fiber network to be lit as soon as possible, and we share your frustration with the seemingly slow progress, most of which has been out of the Town’s control. We want to assure all residents that we’ve been working hard, along with the Select Board, the Town Clerk, the Town Treasurer, Town Counsel, the Town Accountant, office staff, financial and legal advisors. and a few volunteers. We are grateful for everyone’s continued support, and we look forward to answering your questions, if any, at the Annual Town Meeting in May.

Alford Municipal Light Plant Board
Tom Doyle
Jim Hall
Bob Lichter, Chair
Joe Nicolosi
Jay Weintraub

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Aging In Place Open Forums

The vast majority of older adults in Berkshire County say they want to stay in their own homes as they age. Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will be conducting three public forums to get feedback on what people need in order to age in place. Download the Aging In Place Forums flyer for more information. The forums will be held in three locations:

Thursday, March 31, 9:30 – 11:30
Froio Senior Center, 330 North St.

Thursday, March 31, 1:00 – 3:00
Adams Visitor Center, 3 Hoosac St.

Great Barrington
Friday, April 1, 10:00 – noon
Berkshire South, 15 Crissey Rd.

Shannon Zaleski
Office Assistant
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission
1 Fenn Street, Suite 201
Pittsfield, MA 01201
(413) 442-1521 x10
Fax: (413) 442-1523

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Alford caucus on March 22nd

The Alford caucus will be held next Tuesday March 22nd at 7:00 P.M. at the Town Hall. Anyone interested in running for a town position should be there to be nominated. There are many open positions and most incumbents are running. All residents are encouraged to attend the forum.

Paula Doyle
Town Clerk

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Reactivating the Alford Historic Commission

Alford Town CenterDear Alford Residents,

As you may know, the Alford Historic District Commission (“AHDC”) was reactivated last year. Our mission is to preserve and protect the exteriors of the buildings within the historic district, which in Alford comprises the Town Hall, Town Offices and the Alford Church.

In recent months we have fielded inquiries about the organization and preservation of the historic documents in the Town Hall, the history and protection of the town’s cemeteries, information and documentation regarding homes and families of Alford’s early residents, and the history of the town in general. These important subjects fall beyond the scope of the AHDC; however it would be possible to form a separate Historic Commission to consider them.

The AHDC would like to see the Historic Commission revived. It had been active several years ago during which time members did a great deal of research on Alford’s old houses. There remains a wealth of history and knowledge extant amongst our neighbors, many of whom have lived here for many years with memories that need to be preserved.  At the time of last year’s AHDC Inside/Out event, we found people eager to pass along what knowledge they had.  We would like to see this information captured and documented for the benefit of present and future generations.  Today’s technology makes it easier to gather such information by video and tape recorder.  In addition, some of the old ledgers documenting town government that are stored in the Town Hall need cataloguing, and steps taken to see that they remain intact. The three Alford graveyards also hold a wealth of history.  These are some additional tasks that have been suggested to the AHDC, but which are not within our purview.

We are reaching out to anyone who is interested in the town’s history, and interested in capturing this history before it is too late.  We feel there is expertise in the community to guide us through these tasks. We would like to know if any of you would be willing to lead this effort or participate in it.  We look forward to hearing from you via email or telephone at 528-9997.

Alice Halsted, Chair
Alford Historic District Commission

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