PLAINVILLE -- Funds to fix up the town library's roof were a no-brainer at Monday's special Town Meeting, where voters gave unanimous approval to the work with only a few words spoken about the project.

Meanwhile, a quest by selectmen for permission to ask the state for additional liquor licenses for the town got some more debate. Ultimately, the request  -- which was among 11 other items on the agenda -- was granted by a majority show of hands.

There were 85 voters in attendance, according to the town clerk's office.

A total of $40,000 was given over to replace the library roof, which is the original roof from when the library was built in 1988.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Rob Rose, the sole speaker on the project, told voters the board had looked into coupling the library roof work with the ongoing town hall and public safety building construction but that the contractors don't take on that kind of work.

Ahead of the Town Meeting, library Director Melissa Campbell told The Gazette that the current condition of the roof "includes nails popping through shingles, cracked shingles and some shingles are even loose or missing."

"The roof has leaked within the last six months and needed an immediate small repair to ensure no further damage to the interior of the library," Campbell reported. "Given the average lifespan of roofing shingles to be 25-30 years, it is time to replace the shingled roof at the Plainville Public Library to safeguard the building and the collections within."

EXTRA LIQUOR LICENSES

The most debate at Monday's session, which lasted about an hour, was prompted by the selectmen's request for authorization to petition the state Legislature to increase the town's allotment of liquor licenses.

The number of licenses a community can give out is related to its population. The law limiting the number of licenses each town can give goes back as far as the Prohibition era. Towns must petition the Legislature to increase their allotments.

Plainville is currently allowed 14 on premises all alcohol licenses (for restaurants). It has two open at this time. The board is looking for six more. For off premises all alcohol licenses (for liquor stores), the town is now allowed two, both of which are assigned. The board is requesting three more. And for off premises wine & malt licenses (for stores like Cumberland Farms), the town is now allowed five, all of which are assigned. The board is requesting five more.

Rose on Monday acknowledged, "You all might be wondering why we’re looking for additional licenses," and then explained, "I think we can use some foresight in looking into the future on what new development is going to bring us."

Rose said the board does not have any business in particular they are looking to assign extra licenses to. But he said officials think it is important as the town looks to grow its commercial base to "try to have them in reserve in case we have situations where we have development come in … so we can have them so that we don’t deter development in town, because we really need development in town."

Some voters were not convinced a town the size of Plainville really needs more liquor licenses. Kathy Parker, of Pleasant Street, said she thinks the carry out market in the town is already well served and the town doesn’t need more of those types of licenses, though she conceded that restaurants could be a different story.

Sherry Norman, of Pleasant Street, also questioned the need, saying there already seem to be "plenty of licenses for a little town like Plainville."

Rose tried to assuage concerns, noting that town officials are not looking to give out licenses "like playing cards."

"We have standards," he said, pointing out that the town expects strict adherence to the liquor laws and takes the granting of licenses very seriously.

And, he went on, "Just because we’re asking for them doesn’t mean we’re issuing them." Rather, officials want the extra licenses "in our back pocket" to give the town more flexibility as it looks to grow.

"These are hard to get. There’s no guarantee the state is going to give us what we want," Rose said. "The point is, just because we have them doesn’t mean we’re going to use them."

One voter thanked the selectmen for looking to the future and said he likes seeing officials trying to get control over what is happening in town.

Trends in byHeather McCarron

WATER SYSTEM REQUESTS

In other business Monday, voters approved $150,000 to clean the Sharlene Lane water tank and examine why the town has had increased disinfectant byproduct numbers in recent water samples from that area.

Public Works Director Paul Scott said a build up of sediment in the tank is probably a significant reason for the elevated byproducts, which is caused by chlorine interacting with naturally occurring organic elements in the water. Chlorine is used as a disinfectant.

"The Sharlene tank, as far as we can tell, has never been cleaned," Scott said. "And that being said we believe there is a large amount of sediment in the tank, which would have to be removed."

The tank was put into service in 1991. Scott said water tanks should be cleaned every five years.

The byproducts are not an immediate health concern, but the town must address the matter as it could become an issue over the long term if left alone. Scott said the work will be done in the spring before the water system flushing program begins.

FIRE DEPARTMENT PURCHASE

Voters on Monday additionally approved putting $19,800 that was approved by a previous Town Meeting for the fire department to buy IV pumps toward a hovercraft instead.

Fire Chief Justin Alexander said the original funding was to meet a state mandate that fire departments equip ambulances with IV pumps – which work to administer fluids automatically rather than by gravity feed.

“In the eleventh hour they (the state) put an indefinite moratorium” on this mandate, he said, adding, “at this point we would not purchase those pumps because the state is not requiring them and we do not feel that we need them.”

On the other hand, the department does need to replace its old hovercraft. Alexander described a hovercraft as basically “a boat that rides up on an air cushion and can float over ground and over water and ice.”

“We use (hovercraft) because we have a lot of shallow, marshy (areas) -- like Turnpike Lake, Lake Mirimichi -- where our boat just can’t get out there and get the job done if somebody needed to be rescued.”

The problem the department has with its older model hovercraft, dating to the 1980s, is that it is designed to lift just 350 pounds – a limitation that becomes problematic when two rescuers, plus their equipment, use the craft, and then must add even more weight to complete a rescue.

“We routinely double or triple its weight capacity,” Alexander said.

New hovercraft usually cost about $70,000, but Alexander said the town is eyeing a good used hovercraft. It is 10 years old, he said, but he is confident it “will serve us well.” It also has many more safety features than the department’s current craft, plus a 1,500 pound capacity.


TRASH & RECYCLING CONTRACT

A final item voters will consider Monday is authorizing the Board of Selectmen to seek and enter a contract for trash and recycling removal in the town that will be good for more than three years.

"This just allows us to go out to bid and sign a contract for up to five years, rather than only three," Thompson said.

The current contract runs until June 30, 2018. Thompson said the plan is to go out to bid for a new service contract going forward.