At their meeting on September 13, the Princeton Selectboard approved and voted on their goals for the upcoming year. In a letter to Princeton residents, posted on the town’s website, the selectboard stated that one of its goals is to communicate more with townspeople, with their letter being the first step in that process. The selectboard has created and adopted a communications plan that will utilize Town News and Nextdoor to disseminate information. Details of the communications plan are available on the town’s website. The selectboard’s goals for the year are:
Town-wide broadband initiative
The selectboard and town administrator will continue to work with Charter Communications to bring internet and broadband services to all residents.
East Princeton Village improvement project
This project involves the reconstruction of approximately 1.2 miles of Route 140 around the Historic Village of East Princeton. The purpose of the project is to improve safety for residents and the public, as well as to restore the historic character of the village. The selectboard and town administrator will work with the Road Advisory Committee to ensure that all legal requirements are met to obtain rights of way and bids on the project. The town will provide updates regarding construction and other related issues.
Building stabilization projects
At the 2018 annual town meeting, voters approved funds for repairs to Bagg Hall, the Town Annex and the existing Public Safety Building. The selectboard and town administrator, working with employees and possibly some townspeople, will start this work.
Develop and begin implementation of a communications plan
The selectboard would like to do a better job of communicating with townspeople. It will create a formal communications plan covering means and desired frequency of communications, and will begin more regular communications with residents.
New Public Safety Building
Establish a new committee to make recommendations on how to move forward with the public safety complex need. The selectboard and town administrator, along with the support of the Facilities Steering Committee Phase II, will bring recommendations to a special town meeting.
The selectboard and town administrator, in collaboration with the fire and police chiefs, will meet and prepare a plan including budget and timeline (as needed) for the purpose of establishing a more rapid response for medical calls within the town.
Sale of Mechanics Hall
Establish a new committee to research and recommend any restrictions to be placed on the sale of the property. The committee is also asked to develop a description of the property and research methods by which the town can lawfully sell the property. Once complete, the selectboard will vote on the final terms and conditions of the sale, and the town administrator will begin the process to advertise the property.
Sell unused property
The selectboard and town administrator, working with a team of employees and possibly representatives of one or more committees, will develop guidelines and materials for the sale process and will begin a methodical process of disposal of unused town property.
Increase selectboard focus on long-term strategic thinking
The selectboard and town administrator will evaluate best practices in the separation of duties between the selectboard and town administrator, with the goal of effecting greater long-term strategic planning.
Teamwork – Selectboard, town administrator and Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee Review Committee recommended that the selectboard, town administrator and Advisory Committee seek ways to improve their working relationship in order to more effectively serve the town. The selectboard and town administrator will engage the Advisory Committee in discussions about effective roles for the Advisory Committee.
Begin clarifying roles and responsibilities: Better definition for Council on Aging and Council on Aging director
The selectboard and town administrator, working with the Council on Aging and the Council on Aging director, will develop a formal Council on Aging committee charged with defining the roles and responsibilities of the COA. In addition, the selectboard and town administrator will review and modify the job description of the Council on Aging director as necessary to conform to the overall view of the relationship between the Council on Aging and the Council on Aging director. The selectboard and town administrator see this as a model to be applied to other town committees.
Long-term financial planning
The selectboard and town administrator will continue the work initiated by the ad-hoc financial group, relating to long-term financial planning, to maintain an updated 5-year plan.
Add a student to selectboard as a deliberating, but non-voting, member
The selectboard will announce the opportunity, review and select a student, and work to incorporate the student as fully as possible into the selectboard. The board would value a younger perspective on issues of import to the town with a secondary goal that the real-life town government experience would be of value to the student.
Town use of Sonoma space at Post Office Place
The selectboard and town administrator will continue to work to reach an agreement on the Sonoma space with the Post Office Place management team. Upon signing of a lease, the town administrator and Council on Aging director will oversee the build-out of the space. While the space is under construction, the selectboard and town administrator, working with the Council on Aging director, will develop a policy on the non-COA use of the space.
Bagg Hall renovation/addition
The selectboard recognizes that this is still an important need that should be addressed as soon as the board feels comfortable bringing it to the forefront. The selectboard believes that a new public safety building must currently take priority and supports the Friends of Bagg Hall in their fundraising efforts, which will help the community understand the types of financial support available to assist the town in meeting future building needs.
The selectboard is a three-person elected board of townspeople who volunteer their time and receive a nominal stipend to help defray expenses. The town administrator is an employee of the town and is hired by the selectboard. The selectboard serves as the town’s chief executive body. Its members, working with the town administrator, have overall responsibility for the general operations of town government. It is the major non-school appointing authority for the town. Its members are authorized to enter into contracts on behalf of the town. Their duties and responsibilities are outlined in the Handbook for Massachusetts Selectmen, published by the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
Massachusetts, like most states, has an Open Meeting Law (OML). The OML seeks to ensure the rights of citizens to receive timely and adequate notice of when and where a public body will meet and what will be discussed and/or decided at that meeting; and that public bodies will deliberate and decide the matters before them with the public present, unless that business falls within a small number of specified exceptions. Since Princeton has a three-person selectboard, none of its members can speak with each other about matters that might come before the board outside of a public meeting.
In their letter, signed by chair Richard Bisk and board members Karen Cruise and Edith Morgan, the selectboard acknowledges that the majority of their work is done at their public meetings, which must be focused and productive. Per their Public Participation Policy, public comment is limited and takes place at the beginning of most meetings. The time allotted for public comment is not an opportunity for debate, nor will the selectboard respond at that time. The public is encouraged to email questions and concerns to the town administrator or selectboard ahead of time, or to request that a topic be placed on the agenda for an upcoming selectboard meeting.