THOMASTON — The Board of Selectmen approved the purchase of a new vehicle for the Highway Department and accepted United Mechanical Resource’s HVAC maintenance contract for the town, at its meeting on Tuesday, July 2. 

Highway Superintendent Glenn Clark advised the board about the two choices of vehicles for the town. 

One vehicle, produced by the company Freightliner, has a 20,000-pound front end, and is classified as the state-bid truck. 

The other option, an International with a 24,000-pound front end. 

The board and Superintendent Clark on the benefits of the choices. 

Regarded as a minor consideration by First Selectman Edmond V. Mone, the shipping and arrival dates are different; the Freightliner vehicle will not arrive until October or November. 

The International truck would arrive sometime in mid-summer. 

Mr. Mone requested Superintendent Clark’s perspective as to which vehicle he recommends for the town. 

“I just want a truck that works,” Superintendent Clark told the board. 

He elaborated that he had a difficult time finding any differences between the two options across engines, transmissions and other factors. 

He noted the International comes with a laptop and $3,200 worth of software programming, which allows the truck to be plugged in to conduct diagnostics and evaluate the condition of the vehicle. 

Instead of sending the truck out of town to be serviced, the Highway Department could keep the vehicle at its site and contact a specialized mechanic to repair the vehicle using this technology. 

In addition to two-year licensing, the International’s programs are compatible for the rest of the vehicles the town owns due to the common software. 

Following the two-year licensing, the town must pay $500 each year to license the common software; the board was willing to fund this minor cost on an annual basis.

“It’s like buying coffee to the average guy,” Selectman Bruce Barrett, Sr., joked. 

Mr. Barrett supported the software investment after weighing the benefits the technology provides to the Highway Department, allowing department staff to routinely analyze and run diagnostics on the vehicles, especially when evaluating potential issues and repairs. 

Mr. Barrett questioned if the International was a better price in comparison to the Freightliner vehicle and First Selectman Mone agreed with him that it cost less. 

Mr. Mone added that the Board of Finance authorized funding to purchase the truck and the prices of both vehicles is significantly lower than the maximum allotment. 

The board unanimously approved a motion to purchase the International truck at an annual cost of $40,375, a total of $201,875 for a five-year lease. 

The next item of business was to determine the vendor for this year’s HVAC maintenance contract. 

The final two bids were from United Mechanical Resources, Inc., of Meriden and Pelletier Mechanical Services, LLC, of Thomaston. 

Mr. Mone noted the cost differences between the two bids; UMR’s bid is “significantly less,” especially in the case of on-call service and overtime wages. 

“We must do what’s best for the town,” Selectman Roger Perreault said. 

The HVAC maintenance contract is an annual agreement with an opportunity to renew the deal at the determination of the Board of Selectmen. 

The board unanimously approved a motion to award the new HVAC maintenance contract to UMR, replacing Pelletier Mechanical Services, the previous provider. 

Selectmen discussed an inquiry to install small wireless facilities, also known as small cell facilities, a type of wireless broadband infrastructure that usually comprises small antennas mounted to existing structures such as utility poles or cell towers. 

The facilities are supposed to complement or essentially stretch tower macrocell coverage and increase capacity in high-demand areas, according to the National League of Cities. 

Mr. Mone said many towns in the state have pushed back against the intrusion of cell companies that connect small wireless facilities to a town’s property without providing any information to the governing body or the residential community. 

As a result, Mr. Mone will plan a town meeting on the subject in the future.

He wishes to ensure that the installers of the wireless facilities meet with the Planning and Zoning Commission and explain their plans and proposals, which will allow for a line of communication and dialogue for all affected. 

In closing, Mr. Mone shared was a status update regarding the collapsed wall along Main Street and its anticipated repair. 

Following a recent meeting with Superintendent Clark, Police Chief Jeffrey Madden and representatives from the Public Safety Department, the participants determined the wall will not be cleared out and reconstructed until the fall of 2020. 

Efforts to obtain property easements are underway. 

In collaboration and cooperation with the state, a public information meeting will be held and notices will be sent to property owners within the surrounding area that may be affected by the construction project.

While construction will not begin until the fall of 2020, the ramifications of this wall clean up and repair have already caused apprehension for the eventual traffic rerouting. 

Although northbound traffic along Main Street will remain unchanged, a detour for southbound traffic will “redirect traffic onto Elm Street and back at the crosslight,” Mr. Mone said. 

A two-month construction process is anticipated. Mr. Mone said Elm Street is already busy and the project will add to the congestion, at least for a short time.

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