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Stockbridge warrant seeks speed limit mandate for town-owned roads

The Select Board contemplated having the board appoint the town clerk and tree warden, rather than residents voting to elect those positions.

Stockbridge — Should residents approve the Town Warrant measure in May, Stockbridge motorists certainly have enough time to make sure they comply with the proposal that would put a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit on the town’s streets that don’t already have an established regulation.

The Stockbridge Select Board unanimously approved putting the issue on the Town Warrant during their March 21 meeting. “An ongoing issue has been concerns over speeds in town, on side roads and on main roads,” Town Administrator Michael Canales said. Should the measure, which will include a state regulation within its bylaws, pass, the vote will essentially create a “speed limit of 25 miles per hour across the town,” he said. However, in-town roads with speed limits already posted as a result of a speed study will be excluded from the proposed regulation, as will state highways, with only town-owned public ways affected. According to Canales, roads that do not fall under the proposed 25-mile-per-hour speed limit by virtue of having had a study establishing their speed limits include Glendale Middle Road, Prospect Hill , Mahkeenac, West Hawthorne, Yale Hill, and Lee roads, as well as state routes, including Route 183, Route 102, and Route 7. “So those wouldn’t be affected by this, but all other streets in the town would go to 25 [miles-per-hour limits],” he said.

Although other streets in Stockbridge have posted speed limits, Canales said he wasn’t sure how those were established. He said the new speed limits, if approved by voters, wouldn’t go into effect immediately, with the town needing to post signage on the entrance to the jurisdiction. The slated date to begin ticketing based on the proposal is January 1, 2025, giving residents an opportunity to be informed about the speed limit through a town campaign to notify the public.

After that, those who encounter a road in Stockbridge that doesn’t have a posted speed limit, it is 25 miles per hour, and enforceable, Canales said. “I think it’s something to consider; ultimately, once again, it’s the town meeting that’s going to decide it,” he said.

Additionally, Select Board members reviewed a proposal for the Town Warrant that would make two local government positions, town clerk and tree warden, be appointed by the Select Board instead of elected by voters. Members didn’t vote on adding the measure to the Town Warrant at the meeting, instead waiting until the next session set for April 4 to render a decision, providing residents with an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal. “The town clerk job is very different than it was in the past, with elections and what has to be done,” Chair Ernest Cardillo said. “We spend a lot of money in training, a lot of money in schooling.” By appointing the town clerk, he said the Select Board and Town Administrator would have “a little more authority over the position.”

If the position remains elected, member Patrick White said that only a Stockbridge resident can hold the job. But, if the position is an appointed one, the person filling it is able to be hired “from anywhere, the most qualified candidate,” he said.

Member Jamie Minacci said the town clerk “should be a regular position and not an elected position; it’s too specialized.” She explained that Highway Superintendent Hugh Page is doing most of the work of the tree warden because he is in the office every day of the week, adding that “it seems it should be shifted also and not an elected position.”

White questioned how the balloting would work, including whether candidate names would also go before the voters who may pass a new bylaw that the positions would be appointed.

The town clerk position is not up for election this year, Cardillo said, and votes for tree warden candidates would be void should the voters approve moving the position from being elected to being appointed by the Select Board.

The annual Town Meeting is scheduled for May 20, and the annual Town Election is May 21.

At the meeting, the Select Board also:

  • Appointed five members (three voting, two nonvoting) to the Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Commission, whose purpose, as an advisory group, is to protect Lake Mahkeenac and its watershed. With more qualified applicants than positions open on the commission, the board’s action includes Harbormaster Gary Kleinerman stepping aside from taking an official spot in the group; however, he will continue to attend meetings. Although the names of two of the three voting members were clearly audible at the board vote—Tom Fynan nd Laurie Richmond—The Berkshire Edge requested and is awaiting clarification from town officials as to the third name. The two nonvoting members are Rachel Rivas and Louis Korman.
  • Discussed an option to the 2025 budget of the town taking a five-year note to purchase $580,000 of highway department equipment, with about $90,000 of interest, as well as possibly funding half of the four main equipment pieces this year, leaving two equipment items for the following year;
  • Discussed an option to the 2025 budget of increasing permit fees by $15, with the effect of increasing town revenue but not changing the budget going forward; and
  • Discussed eliminating town lifeguards.

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