Hampden Board of Selectmen appoints volunteers, receives municipal project bids

HAMPDEN – The Hampden Board of Selectmen welcomed new volunteers for various committees and positions within the town at its meeting on June 14.

Christine Rivest was appointed to the Historic Commission to serve until June 2023. She told the board that she enjoys preserving history and wants to do so for the town. The board also reappointed commission members Betty Howarth and Joyce Dunklee to terms ending in 2022 and Chair Connie Witt to a term ending in 2023. Witt told the board that the commission would again bring an article to create a National Historic District to the Special Town Meeting. The article failed to pass at the Annual Town Meeting in May. Witt told the board that she hadn’t expected such opposition, but Flynn assured her that residents just want to know more about the district before voting.

A new probationary firefighter was added to the ranks of the Hampden Fire Department. Nicole O’Donnell will be on call and available to respond on nights and weekends. She has already been trained in CPR and is first aid certified. When asked why she wanted to join the department, she told the board that she is “tired of people seeing things happen but not doing anything.” Being a firefighter will give her the power to help in an emergency, she said. As a probationary firefighter, O’Donnell will receive extra training until she meets the satisfaction of the department. At that time she will be able to respond to non-structural fire calls. After a year, she can attend the state fire academy.

Board of Selectmen member Craig Rivest said that residents were interested in reconstituting the Recreation Association of Hampden (RAH), an organization that has worked in the past to encourage outdoor recreation opportunities for kids in town.

Rivest also informed the rest of the board that there were already seven applicants for the Fiber Optic Committee. While they agreed to leave applications open for another week, it was acknowledged that seven is the cap on how many members the committee should have. Interviews will be conducted in two weeks.
Another committee that will soon be formed is the Fire Station subcommittee. While the board is seeking individuals with construction experience to help create a plan for fire station repairs and improvements, all individuals are welcome to apply.

The shared-health services inter-municipal agreement between Hampden, Longmeadow Monson and Wilbraham is nearing completion. Town Administrator Bob Markel said that the final draft will clarify language regarding each town keeping the revenue from its inspections.

A total of 17 bids have come in for the highway garage project. A walkthrough for the contractors was scheduled for June 16, with proposals due back within a few weeks. Markel told the board that the first half of the town’s expected $1.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is expected within the following two weeks. The second half will arrive around the same time in 2022. The town has until 2024 to spend the money.

The safer, upgraded Somers Road crosswalk near Centennial Commons is one step closer to reality. The digital radar speed sign has been received by the town. It will be staged on a trailer so that it can be moved if need be. Bids have gone out for the installation of flashing LED lights that are designed to increase pedestrian visibility near the senior housing complex. Markel opined that a raised crosswalk would be dangerous and could cause accidents if people cross it at high speeds. Resident Nancy Zebert suggested lowering the speed limit to 25 mph for the entire “business district,” from the Scantic Bridge to Mountain View restaurant. The board took the idea under consideration.

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