Updated: Mattapoisett Special Fall Town Meeting sets agenda

Oct 31, 2023

This article has been updated with comment and explanation from Mattapoisett Town Administrator Mike Lorenco

MATTAPOISETT — From decisions about the reconstruction of Old Slough Road to the allocation of town funds to repair and renovate the highway department building, Mattapoisett residents will be able to make their voices heard on 11 issues at this year’s Fall Town Meeting. 

All registered Mattapoisett voters are eligible to attend, participate and vote in Town Meeting which will be held at the Old Rochester Regional High School auditorium on Monday, Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. The Mattapoisett Fall Town Meeting warrant can be found online at www.mattapoisett.net

Item seven on the Fall Town Meeting Agenda asks voters to authorize the town to take all necessary actions to acquire “public way easements” for the reconstruction of Old Slough Road. 

These actions could include buying the land, having the land donated to the town, or the use of eminent domain. This item also asks residents to approve the allocation of $35,000 for any costs associated with acquiring the easements. 

The proposed project to reconstruct Old Slough Road would take the 213-year-old path that is currently unpaved, narrow and muddy and turn it into a road suitable for use by emergency vehicles. 

The purpose of the project is to provide a lifeline to the approximately 130 households on Angelica Avenue that could become stranded if coastal flooding blocked emergency access to the neighborhood. 

“The marsh on Angelica Ave, if that floods out, they’ve got no way of getting the people out,” said Mattapoisett Conservation Commission Member David Lawrence. “I’m not saying it's ever flooded before, but I think it’s a good project.”

The entire project is estimated to cost approximately $600,000 and project designs have already been approved by the Select Board. 

According to Mattapoisett Town Administrator Mike Lorenco, this item will “rectify any potential movement of the roadway location that has occurred since 1810 by completing proper easements and takings.”

The first two items on the Town Meeting agenda ask voters to transfer $575,000 to the Town of Mattapoisett Debt Stabilization fund and transfer $335,000 to the town’s capital stabilization fund. According to the Town Meeting agenda, this money will be used to cover “future costs.”

The third item on the agenda is an appropriation of $330,000 to fund the “engineering, permitting, construction, repairs and improvements” of town roads and sidewalks. 

While the exact project this funding could go towards is unknown, the Mattapoisett Select Board recently sent engineers back to the drawing board for a proposed project to renovate Main Street, Water Street, Beacon Street and Marion Road. 

The fourth and fifth items on the agenda ask voters to allocate $37,000 in free cash to fund a sewer connection for a town lot located at 0 Industrial Drive, and appropriate $350,000 of free cash to fund repairs to the town’s highway department building. 

According to Lorenco, the project to rehab the highway department building is “essential.”

“That building hasn’t had any renovation since it was constructed in the 1950s,” he said.  “Obviously, a lot has changed since that time.”

He added that the building lacks proper floor drains, a fire suppression system, an adequate office space and locker rooms. 

The project would “renovate the current building and add a garage bay on the back of the building to replace space lost for the expansion of the needed space for an adequate office and locker room within the current building footprint,” said Lorenco. “The town is taking a phased approach to the project as current estimates for the total project are just under $4 million and completing the project while still using the building is very complicated without a phased approach.”

The eighth item on the Town Meeting agenda asks voters to authorize the town to acquire through purchase, donation or eminent domain land to be used for pathways through Tinkham Forest as approved in the Nov. 19, 2012 Special Fall Town Meeting and the Oct. 21, 2019 Special Fall Town Meeting.

According to Lorenco, the town owns a 20-acre parcel of land that was donated in 1968 by Nelson Floyd Tinkham. That parcel is now surrounded by the Bay Club. 

He added that after a legal battle that ensued when the Bay Club tried to acquire the parcel,  “the prior town articles passed were sought to resolve issues that resulted from the litigation.”  “This article is supposed to solidify the trail network in the forest and how the public can access those trails through the Bay Club,” said Lorenco.

Next, item nine seeks to create an opioid remediation fund that will be used to pay for “future opioid-remediation programs,” according to the Town Meeting agenda. The funds that will be contained within this account were distributed by the state after opioid manufacturers and distributors were sued in a class action lawsuit.

According to Lorenco, Mattapoisett has so far received $43,783.19 as a part of this settlement and the town is expected to receive settlement funds for several years to come. 

Item 10 asks voters to approve the transfer of $353,590 from the sale of 33 Church Street to the Mattapoisett Water Department Reserve Fund. 

Finally, item 11 will authorize the appropriation of $8 million to be allocated toward Mattapoisett’s share of the “costs of the design, planning, engineering, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation and installation associated with the Fairhaven sewer treatment plant upgrade project.”

The Mattapoisett Select Board and finance committee voted to recommend all articles on the Town Meeting agenda.