Peterborough Select Board moves forward on bond purchase for fire department design

  • The Peterborough Town House Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/18/2022 12:49:17 PM
Modified: 5/18/2022 12:47:31 PM

Peterborough Select Board members voted Tuesday to purchase a $1.3 million bond through the New Hampshire Bond Bank for design and engineering on a new fire and ambulance complex on Elm Street.

Town Meeting approved the bond last week, and the Select Board has committed to using an additional $700,000 of American Rescue Plan Act grant funding toward the design and engineering.

During their meeting Tuesday, board members reviewed two options for purchasing a bond -- the New Hampshire Bond Bank or a private bank.

The New Hampshire Bond Bank offered an overall lower interest rate, but requires the town to bond the entire $1.3 million all at once. People’s Bank, which the town uses for its banking, had a higher interest rate, which would result in an additional $18,850 in interest payments, but offered the ability for the town to take out the bond in installments.

The bond bank’s interest rate was 2.5% over a five-year period, with  total interest of $113,750. People’s Bank offered a 3.4% interest rate, which would result in $132,600 of interest payments over the same period, if the town took the entire $1.3 million in bonds.

Town Administrator Nicole MacStay said because the town intends to only take a short-term bond with a five-year payback period, it’s unlikely the town would look at refinancing the loans before they were paid off.

Select Board member Bill Kennedy was in favor of the bond bank, calling the town lucky to get a 2.5% interest rate and saying interest rates are likely to rise.

The board voted unanimously to approve using the New Hampshire Municipal Bond Bank and applying for the entire $1.3 million in bonds for the project.

Board will review skateboard policies

Select Board Chair Tyler Ward brought up the town’s policies against skateboarding, after a recent citation for a resident who was using a skateboard as transportation downtown.

“This particular person had been going to and from a place on a skateboard as a mode of transportation. So my concern is we were alienating people that were using it as a mode of transportation, just as walking or bicycling would be for many people that don’t drive cars,” Ward said.

Board members spoke with Police Chief Scott Guinard about the history of the policy, and how it has been enforced in the past. Guinard said the policy was put in place in 1986, when the town was having some issues with skateboarders, including boarders sitting on their boards to coast down Main Street, several instances of people being knocked down and three or four instances of mirrors of parked cars being damaged, as well as reports from motorists of skateboarders in the road, narrowly avoiding being hit.

While police enforce the policy around Grove Street to Vale Street, School Street and Depot Street, the usual practice is to issue a warning.

“Most people are unaware of the ordinance, as it’s not posted anywhere, and that’s understandable,” Guinard said. “Over the years, there have been probably half-a-dozen people that have actually been cited for the ordinance, and those were typically multi-repeat offenders.”

Guinard said there are aspects of the ordinance that could be better defined. While skateboarding is banned in the downtown business area during regular business hours, Guinard said those terms aren’t defined. He said the board could amend the ordinance to better reflect the actual enforcement policies. A regulation banning skateboarding in town from dawn to dusk, he said, could be eliminated entirely.

Guinard said a better definition of limiting skateboarding downtown would mean those using skateboarding for transportation would only have a narrow area where they couldn’t skate.

“It does not force them to walk great distances,” Guinard said, saying it would be a matter of a couple hundred feet.

Ward said he was interested in abolishing the ordinance or at a minimum doing a “very generous rewrite.” In his view, the ordinance could be nearly entirely eliminated, leaving only a provision that skateboarders are required to “yield to vehicles or pedestrians, and operate said skateboard in a prudent and careful manner, and at a reasonable rate of speed.”

Ward said the provision would allow police to continue to cite people who were causing issues with how they were handling their skateboards downtown, while allowing those using them responsibly to get on with their business.

“That’s just wrong to me. I have a bad feeling about that,” Ward said of the recent citation for a person using a skateboard to commute.

MacStay pointed out that “prudent and careful” and “reasonable” were subjective terms and open to interpretation, but audience members pointed out the police were already using their judgment to interpret the ordinance.

Resident Mandy Sliver pointed out that although the streets in the downtown are narrow and congested, the operation of bicycles is allowed, and as long as the rider was operating safely, there was no reason a skateboard couldn’t also function in the same area.

Any change of the ordinance would require a public hearing process. MacStay agreed to work on revisions of the ordinance for the board to review before publishing it for a possible public hearing process.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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