By Jeffrey Epstein

In their meeting on Monday, August 6 the Selectmen considered public art and celebratory haiku; bus stop shelters; remote participation in official meetings; and an update on the Town’s fiber-optic network with a new central telephone exchange that will go into effect after Labor Day

Public Art and Celebratory Haiku

The Selectmen also considered requests for two public art installations. One is about traffic signal control boxes — large utilitarian objects that have become surfaces for artwork in some places. The Planning Board presented the Selectmen with a proposal to decorate the traffic control box at the intersection of South Road and Railroad Avenue. If residents like the results, it could become a pilot for other box decoration projects, but this proposal is only for the one. The project was unanimously approved by the Selectmen with the support of the Planning Board. This ended the joint portion of the meeting.

The Selectmen later unanimously decided to join with other towns to display poetry in the style of Japanese haiku along the Minuteman Bikeway, as part of the bikeway’s 25th Anniversary celebration. The Bedford Library, along with the Lexington and Arlington libraries, is collecting poems. The deadline for submitting haiku is August 20. Selected haiku will be painted along the bikeway and are expected to last until at least next spring. Test haiku have been painted near Spy Pond in Arlington to test color, legibility, paints, and stencils.

Bus Stop Shelters

The Bedford Board of Health told the Selectmen about their desire to have three bus stop shelters installed. People now wait for the bus unsheltered, often in the snow or rain, and the BOH feels the amenity would be a public health service. The locations are the MBTA bus stops at South Road and Great Road, DeAngelo Drive and Loomis Street, and at the Great Road Shopping Center. The Department of Public Works will be involved in the design of the shelters, which could ultimately be proposed as a Town capital project unless private sponsors were found. No action was taken, as no specific plan is in front of the Selectmen at this time.

Remote Participation by Town Board Members

The Selectmen again considered remote participation in their meetings by phone or other technical means. This was previously discussed June 11, but the Selectmen wanted to get counsel’s opinion. Having reviewed the state law, they decided at this meeting to proceed with drafting a policy roughly based on the policy from the town of Lincoln. This would allow an absent Selectman to participate and vote in a meeting if willing and able, by either videoconferencing or speakerphone. The Selectmen’s meeting room and others in Town Hall all have some kind of conferencing capability. Once the draft policy is created, it will be circulated to all town boards for review and comment before adoption, as it will apply to them too, unless they first ask the Selectmen to let them opt out.

Fiber-Optic Update, and a Central Telephone Exchange

The Facilities Department briefed the Selectmen on the new municipal fiber-optic network that has been installed. The network allows all departments to have a dedicated communications channel and allows all parts of the town government to communicate with one another in an emergency. It includes a new telephone system which will start operations in September with the beginning of the school year.

The central main number for the town will be  (781) 918-4000, with subsidiary phone trees into departments. However, direct numbers to departments and individuals will still be available, and the Selectmen promised that at some point a human will pick up any call during business hours.

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