Charlestown com­mis­sion­ers spar over Avalon Park ex­penses

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ ce­cil­whig. com

— The town board launched into a heated dis­cus­sion last week af­ter it was learned that two com­mis­sion­ers au­tho­rized the cre­ation of a roughly $ 3,000 con­cep­tual plan for Avalon Park with­out con­sult­ing the rest of the board.

Dur­ing last Tues­day’s meet­ing, Com­mis­sioner Joseph Letts in­quired about a bill sent to the town to­tal­ing over $ 3,000 from URS Corp., the town’s en­gi­neer­ing firm, for the cre­ation of a con­cep­tual plan for all of Avalon Park.

The plan was cre­ated at the re­quest of board Pres­i­dent Re­nee Ca­pano and board Vice Pres­i­dent Mary Carol Du­range who are in the process of writ­ing up a $ 550,000 grant to de­velop both sec­tions of the park. The grant, how­ever, re­quires a con­cep­tual plan, Du­range said.

But Letts, along with Com­mis­sioner Bruce Hech­mer and Trea­surer Andy Thomp­son, said they were never in­formed about the cre­ation of a con­cep­tual plan and that the board never voted to have URS cre­ate the plan.

“Ob­vi­ously, we have to ap­prove and pay the bills be­cause we don’t want to be a dead­beat when we told them ( URS) to do the work,” Hech­mer said. “But that should not have been or­dered with­out a dis­cus­sion and a ma­jor­ity vote.”

CHARLESTOWN

Letts also ques­tioned why the con­cep­tual plan cov­ers the en­tire prop­erty. Cur­rently, the town only has money to de­velop Lot B in the form of a $ 90,000 grant from the Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, which town must also match with $ 10,000.

Ca­pano clar­i­fied that the con­cep­tual plan was dis­cussed dur­ing an April 26 meet­ing and that the whole prop­erty had to be in­cluded in the plan in or­der to ap­ply for the $ 550,000 grant. Du­range also noted that, un­like the cur­rent grant, the new grant in­cludes en­gi­neer­ing fees.

But even if the grant does in­clude en­gi­neer­ing fees, Letts noted the town may not re­ceive the money.

“You’ve been promised the grant, but that don’t mean you’ll get it,” Letts said. “But you’re spend­ing money on some­thing that we have no money for.”

Thomp­son agreed that for the Avalon Park project to move for­ward, a move had to be made. He blamed the lack of a board vote on “mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

“We need to make sure that does not hap­pen again,” Thomp­son said. “I do think we do need to make sure that what­ever break­down we had with not vot­ing on spend­ing the money, we ad­dress.”

He also ex­pressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion with URS’s con­cep­tual plan re­fer­ring to it as a “Google map that was color- coded.” How­ever, Thomp­son said the work likely wasn’t up to par be­cause the town failed to com­mu­ni­cate with URS about ex­actly what it wanted.

Thomp­son also said the town should have worked with the Avalon Park De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee to cre­ate an ini­tial con­cep­tual plan and a de­tailed state­ment of work be­fore go­ing to an out­side firm. This would also pre­vent the board from be­ing taken off guard by an ex­pen­sive bill, he noted.

“We can’t spend money with­out get­ting a vote,” Thomp­son said.

The dis­cus­sion ended with an agree­ment among the board mem­bers that mov­ing for­ward they would all tr y to stay on the same page, com­mu­ni­cate and fol­low pro­ce­dures.

Late last week, Wib Pumpaly, town ad­min­is­tra­tor, con­firmed that URS was paid for its ser vice.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

The con­cep­tual plan for Avalon Park in­cluded both Lot B and the ad­ja­cent Avalon ma­rina prop­erty, seen here.

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