April 05, 2020

Newport meeting canceled> Generator, wall remain on selectmen’s agenda

NEWPORT — The lack of a quorum canceled the Wednesday night meeting of the Newport selectmen. The board will resume its regular schedule, meeting on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, in February, said interim Town Manager Evelyn Ricker.

The ice storm was blamed for upsetting the regular schedule, but also as the reason two issues will remain on the board’s agenda.

Loss of power at the police station-fire hall and the town office prompted town employees to suggest the town have a generator for future storms. The generator would allow the town to offer shelter to residents displaced by a storm. It also would power municipal buildings and maintain heat, and allow for full operation of communications equipment.

The only problem with the suggestion is the price tag — $20,000. The issue may be added to the municipal warrant for the March town meeting, Ricker said.

The budget committee did not discuss the generator this week, but individuals have raised questions about its necessity.

Town officials hope that another storm or additional deterioration doesn’t cause the exterior wall of the fire hall to collapse before repairs can be made. As a load-bearing wall, the north wall has shifted. An investigation by Plymouth Engineering’s Keith Whitaker determined the wall is in need of immediate repair.

Whitaker said in a letter to selectmen, “The deterioration shows signs of significant recent movement and the masonry construction is not reinforced to prevent further movement or failure.”

Whitaker recommended the roof framing be shored up and the damaged masonry removed before repairs are made. He also said the foundation needs repair or replacement. He estimated the cost at between $12,000 and $16,000, but urged the town to consult a contractor for a closer estimate.

A second budget meeting could be held to allow the budget committee to make a recommendation, but Chairman Phil Brown is not expecting that to happen, he said Wednesday. The two issues could go to voters without a committee recommendation.

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