Town of Sutton Selectmen Meeting Minutes

Pillsbury Memorial Town Hall
93 Main Street
Sutton Mills, NH  03221

Board of Selectman
Meeting Minutes of February 27, 2017



The meeting was called to order at 4:00 p.m. by Walter Baker, Jr., Chair. Present at the meeting was Walter Baker, Jr., Chair; Robert Wright, Jr., Selectman; William Curless, Selectman; Martin Carrier, Treasurer; Elly Phillips, Recording Secretary; and Robert DeFelice.



Martin Carrier, Treasurer, met with the Board for an introductory meeting. A vacancy for Deputy Treasurer was discussed. Provided there is no conflict with service on the Budget Committee, the Board will appoint Robert DeFelice as Deputy Treasurer.



The (sealed) Non-Public Minutes from February 13, 2017 and the Public Minutes from February 15, 2017 were approved as written. The Board reviewed and approved the following manifests:

PAYROLL MANIFEST:   $13,324.12  02/17/2017

VENDOR MANIFEST:    $15,929.08  02/17/2017

PAYROLL MANIFEST:   $10,464.44  02/24/2017

VENDOR MANIFEST:    $15,929.08  02/24/2017



The Board issued a request for Martin Carrier for reimbursement from Fund 3, Police Department Special Duty Revolving Fund, in the Amount of $7,872. The reimbursement is for Special Duty Pay, Medicare, New Hampshire Retirement, Administrative and cruiser.


The Board issued an Appointment Form for Cynthia Stillman, Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector, to the office of Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector.



The Board noted the following items of correspondence:

NHDES/PBN – Freshwater Seasonal Dock: Peter and Nancy Rice, 07-977-413

NHDES/Shoreland Permit Application: Ritz Compound Trust, 08-184-257

DOS – LTE network notification



Selectman Wright requested that all correspondence issued to the Selectmen’s Office be stamped with the date of receipt.


At 4:33 p.m., Selectman Wright made a motion to recess until 7:00 p.m. in order to conduct an informational public meeting pertaining to 2017 Warrant Article 9 and 14.    Selectman Curless seconded the motion which passed by an unanimous affirmative vote.


The informational session was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Walter Baker, Jr., Chair. Present for the session was Walter Baker, Jr., Chair; Robert Wright, Jr., Selectman; William I. Curless, Selectman; Stephen Bagley, Road Agent; Elly Phillips, Recording Secretary; and interested members of the public to include:  Martin Carrier, Heidi Thoma, Bob DeFelice, Don Davis, Larry and Peg Ford, Paul Little, Julie Griffiths, Alison Jones, John Jones, Karin and Michael Heffernan, Deborah Schwarz and Nancy Heckel.


Selectman Baker opened by introducing the subjects of the meeting which were 2017 Warrant Articles pertaining to the proposed Grist Mill/Corporation Hill pedestrian bridge and the Library Accessible Entrance/Ramp.


Warrant article #9 – Grist Mill bridge replacement


Selectman Baker called upon Stephen Bagley, Road Agent, to provide an update on the Grist Mill/Corporation Hill pedestrian bridge project.   Mr. Bagley advised that he had sought  two different bids for the bridge.  One was from Hansen Construction who did the stonework on the Corporation Hill wall.   The other quote was from Contech.   The Contech bridge is a metal bridge with wooden slats.  The Hansen bridge would either incorporate the old side rails or could be constructed with wooden side rails.    The Hansen Bridge is designed as 4-foot laminate beam with side rails(cost $36,363 installed).  The Contech bridge is 6-feet wide and constructed of metal materials  (cost of $42,000-$45,000 installed).    Mr. Bagley advised against a 6-foot bridge because it might provide a temptation for 4-wheelers and other traffic.


John Jones asked whether it was legal for 4-wheelers to be on Grist Mill Street. Mr. Bagley responded that they’re not supposed to be on any street.    Karin Heffernan asked whether it would be possible to get a quote for a 4-foot wide steel bridge which might bring the cost down.    Mr. Bagley responded that this is what Contech offers for a pedestrian bridge; however, he would follow up to seek a quote for a 4-foot wide bridge.  Ms. Heffernan asked whether a full bid was put out.  Mr. Bagley responded that quotes were sought for budgetary purposes.


Karin Heffernan discussed the abutter permission letters that were sent in conjunction with the project and expressed disappointment that the letters did not address removal of the bridge.   Mr. Bagley responded that removal of the bridge was discussed at a public meeting.    The original focus was on stabilization of the walls.     Funding for the project was reviewed.  Mr. Bagley advised that funds were previously encumbered  ($7,000) for this project and the remainder of funding would be raised through a warrant article.  Ms. Heffernan emphasized that the abutters never agreed to removal of the bridge.    Mr. Bagley stated that the bridge needed to be removed  in order to stabilize the wall due to the fact that the abutments were built into the wall.     Mr. Bagley recollected there was severe undermining of the wall and the main focus was to get the wall stabilized.  The project was two-phased due to funding constraints.


A lengthy discussion regarding funding and the bid process ensued. Mr. Bagley said that he was seeking funds to get the project started and would either do a RFP or select one of the quotes already provided, whichever was the public’s preference.   Ms. Heffernan discussed fiscal responsibility and questioned the order of the process.    Robert DeFelice asked if the old railings were still around.  Mr. Bagley said that they were and could potentially be incorporated into Hansen’s new design. Mr. Bagley opined that a wooden railing would require less maintenance.    Mr. Bagley noted that the original Grist Mill Bridge side rails were repurposed from another bridge in South Sutton.   The original rails did not appear to have historical value.   The new design is for a longer bridge, so the existing rails would need to be extended.  Mr. DeFelice requested that another estimate be sought prior to Town Meeting for a 4-foot steel bridge.


John Jones observed the removal of the old bridge, and said that they did a really good job.   Mr. Jones asked whether the bridge could be brought back and installed.  Mr. Bagley said that the bridge needed to be longer, because the bridge was not sitting on the wall anymore.  Mr. Jones asked whether you could just weld steel extensions onto the bridge.  Paul Little suggested that perhaps the bridge could be designed and erected as an Eagle Scout project.  It was also suggested that a local engineer could be used to keep costs down.  Mr. Bagley said any construction would have to be certified by an engineer.     Selectman Wright reminded those present that engineers are not free and that the focus of this meeting should be on whether or not citizens want the pedestrian bridge replaced.


Selectman Baker provided background on the project stating that four years ago there was an issue with the walls collapsing. Originally, there was a vehicular bridge with two stone abutments on either side and the replacement pedestrian bridge was placed on the vehicular bridge abutments.    The abutments were failing and putting stress on the bridge.  The bridge needed to be fixed one way or another.    The Town sought a price to do the wall and the pedestrian bridge.   The Town couldn’t get an accurate price on the bridge until the site was stabilized and the location established.     Therefore, the project was staged to get the walls completed first and then the bridge replacement would be explored.    In any case, funding would be required for the bridge.    The length of the bridge needs to be extended.  The Town explored putting new I-beams on the old bridge.  The option did not seem feasible due to the condition of the bridge and anticipated bridge life.    Selectman Baker felt that a wooden bridge would fit the neighborhood more aesthetically than a metal one.   Selectman Curless agreed. Selectman Baker agreed to get a price on a four foot metal bridge.


Selectman Baker conducted a straw poll, and those present were overwhelmingly in favor of replacing the bridge. Mr. Bagley advised  he would do  whatever people decide. Mr Bagley cautioned that it is not always wise to choose the cheapest option.  As a case in point he cited cost cutting for the old sand shed and Hominy Pot Bridge (both were replaced in 2016).    Mr. Bagley noted that sometimes when you do things cheaper, it ends up costing you more in the end.


A letter from Betsy Forsham supporting replacement of the bridge was distributed and entered into the record as follows:


Re: Warrant article #9 – Grist Mill bridge replacement


Dear Wally, Bob and Bill,


I am writing to you regarding the Grist Mill Bridge as, due to another commitment, I will be unable to attend Monday night’s meeting. Whereas I understand that this meeting is for informational purposes, I would like to take this opportunity to urge you, the Select Board, to show support for this project at town meeting.  $30,000 is a steep price, and I anticipate some negative responses from people not familiar with the bridge. I would hope that there might be some design alternatives which might make the replacement a bit less costly but, regardless of cost, I can’t stress enough the importance of this bridge, for the following reasons:


1) Safety –  I don’t know if you walk the length of Main Street very often, but if you do, you know that at certain times of the day, it can be a very nerve wracking experience.   Between drivers going too fast and the narrowing of the road due to parked cars, snow banks and the like, pedestrians and bike riders alike feel very vulnerable.  It is possible to eliminate some of this dangerous trek by using Grist Mill St. and the bridge.  I am thinking especially of those families who walk their children to school, often with younger kids in tow.   In addition, I would think that in case of fire, the bridge would provide another access to the houses on Grist Mill St. should the roadway be obstructed.


2) Aesthetics and historical value – As you know, the area in question has a rich history of mill activity.  Standing on the bridge and looking at the incredible stone work and other signs of past industry is of great interest.  It is also a very beautiful view, both of the falling waters to the north and the old mill pond to the south.  Residents and visitors alike have commented on the uniqueness of the site, the enhancement to the charm of Sutton Mills Village and the fact that the little bridge makes it possible to take it all in.  I have even encountered a fuel truck driver who, after filling his customer’s tank, took a few minutes to stand on the bridge, commenting on what a gem of a site it is!


Thank you for considering my comments. I do hope that, with your encouragement and the positive opinions of her citizens, attendees at town meeting will understand the importance of this bridge to the quality of life of all Sutton’s residents, present and future.

Ariticle 14 Library Access

Selectman Baker introduced Heidi Thoma, Librarian, to discuss accessible entry at the library.   Selectman Wright read aloud Article 14:  “Article 14:   To see if the town will raise and appropriate $20,000 for the engineering, permitting and construction of a federally mandated ADA compliant ramp and entry area allowing access to library facilities and materials on the main floor. “  Selectman  Wright also read the following email from Julie Griffiths:  “I would like Article 14 to be amended to remove the words “ramp and” so other options can be evaluated.  The library is a small building on a small lot and I believe other options, such as an elevator addition, which would need a smaller footprint, should be investigated.”

Ms. Thoma advised that the trustees have already voted to amend the Warrant Article, but weren’t able to vote prior to the warrant being sent to press.   Therefore, the article will be amended at Town Meeting.  The proposed amendment will read:  “To see if the town will raise and appropriate $20,000 for the engineering, permitting and construction of a federally mandated ADA compliant entry.   Ms. Julie Griffiths was present and stated that she realized after she sent the email that this warrant article was finalized and would need to be amended at Town meeting.

Ms. Thoma provided handouts regarding annual circulation and annual patron visits by age category.   Ms. Thoma said that the discussion has been about a ramp as the most cost-effective  option for the population.  Research has shown that what people are looking for is independence and ease of operation and a ramp seems to be the best option to address those needs.

Ms. Thomas reviewed a drawing of proposed access to the library from the parking lot to the rear of the building. Ms. Thoma stated that the entry is 43” above grade, so the ramp needs to be 43’ long with a 5’ x 5’ resting area.  Ms. Thoma noted that construction of a ramp in the front of the building has also been explored;  adding that in the past, this has been a concern because of the façade of the building.    A connection between the parking area and the ramp is necessary.

The proposed access from the rear of the building is a ramp and a push button door. Future plans are to convert the current rear entry area into an ADA compliant restroom.    Shannon Storm expressed a concern that the bathroom is not going to be installed immediately.   Adding that there will be a period of time where there is no ADA access to a bathroom.  Ms. Storm advised that the bathroom is currently in the basement.  Ms. Storm also expressed concern that there would be a loss of shelf space observing that the library is already undersized for Sutton’s  population.   For a population of 1850, 2,800 sqf is the average size for a library.  Sutton’s Library is  1,200 sqf.    Ms. Storm estimated that the loss of shelf space would be about 250 books.  Ms. Thoma described the proposed layout which will provide for more shelf space.

In response to whether a ADA bathroom would be required if a ramp was installed, legal has been consulted and advised that having a plan to put in a bathroom and saving funds toward that goal would satisfy ADA requirements.  Ms. Thoma  advised that signage will be placed at the beginning of the ramp notifying those affected that there is no ADA bathroom on premises.    Karin Heffernan observed that currently there is no access at all, so a ramp would be an improvement; but asked whether it was mandated to have a ADA bathroom if the access was installed?    Ms. Thoma replied that once you start modifying the building itself, you need to install the bathroom.    Robert DeFelice stated that the Town is putting away money for this and has been for a number of years. Consequently, Mr. DeFelice felt there is a little bit of leeway with ADA.    Ms. Storm added that the library has been offering various services in order to provide for people who don’t have access.

Ms. Storm asked whether the cost for the installation of an interior lift has been explored.   She noted that there wouldn’t be access to the meeting room either.    Ms. Griffiths asked if capital reserve money was available for the project noting that capital reserve fund was not part of the article.  Ms. Thoma responded that there is a capital reserve, but it wasn’t being used for the ramp.   Ms. Griffiths asked whether it was feasible to put in an elevator in the same footprint as the landing?  Ms. Griffiths felt that a study by a certified architect would be beneficial.    Ms. Griffiths was advised that estimate #2 was done by an architect.    Ms. Thoma  added that the Building Committee and the Trustees had discussed doing a study, but the cost for a study was $10,000-$15,000.  The consensus was putting money toward the project rather than toward a study was the direction they wanted to go.  Ms. Griffiths recollected difficulties the Town encountered in putting in ramps at the Pillsbury Memorial Hall.

Don Davis stated that one of the goals for accessible access is to provide the same and equal access for everyone. Mr. Davis asked whether there was any idea of incorporating a ramp into the landscaping for a front entrance.    Selectman Baker said to go into the front of the building, you still have the same linear distance.  You would need 43’ of ramp (1 foot per inch).  In addition you would need a landing because you can’t just go 43’ straight because of ADA requirements.   Selectman Baker said that such access would run down Corporation Hill, so it would totally change the look of the building.  He noted that the ramp was a covered ramp so you would have to change the roofline and that a front ramp would completely destroy the façade.   He felt that by putting the access out back by the parking area, there would be good access for a van.  Selectman Baker added that coming in from the rear was the least destructive way to come into the building and you maintain the anteroom for a bathroom.   Selectman Baker noted that you would only be losing about 4’ on that wall.   Another obstacle to the front entrance was that it would have to go over the septic system.    Stephen Bagley added that you would need to take some measurements, because the front was very, very tight and warned of runoff from the roof as well.

Alison Jones asked if the space was not adequate for the present population, are there plans for adding onto the library?   Ms. Thoma said that right now they were looking at rearranging the area for more shelf  and social space.    Selectman Baker said increasing the space through an addition was explored to bring up the capacity.  Proximity of the Lane River poses obstacles.  Any expansion would have to be from the back and towards the parking lot.   Selectman Baker felt that excavation near the wall was potentially dangerous.    Also, an addition which matched the slate roof, brick and façade would be about $150,000 which would not be worth the square footage that you would gain.    Selectman Baker recommended a new location, if the Town is interested in library expansion.  The existing library could be used for other town purposes.      Selectman Baker said that a certified engineer would be used to design the final access plans.  Ms. Thoma added that the Warrant Article covered engineering for the project.

Selectman Wright focused the discussion on the Warrant Article and said that any amendments or changes would have to be done at town meeting.

There was a discussion as to whether or not the ramp had to be covered.   A covered ramp is better for maintenance.     Robert DeFelice advised that if you live in a snowy environment ADA strongly suggests a covered ramp.  Selectman Baker said that there will be more extensive drawings at Town Meeting and that he was going to try and produce a model.

The parking area was also discussed.

The 2017 Town Warrant was disseminated. There was a question regarding Article 17.  The Board advised that Article 17 was a petitioned Article that needs to be voted on at Town Meeting.

There being no further questions, the meeting was adjourned at 8:18 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Elly Phillips, Recording Secretary