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Comcast project moves toward town meeting

SHARON — With a town meeting scheduled for late October, the Board of Selectmen discussed the duties of the position of performance manager for the Comcast project at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

The town meeting is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28, beginning at 6 p.m. at Sharon Center School.

If Comcast’s proposed partnership with the town is approved by voters at the town meeting, Comcast has indicated that it would want work to begin promptly.

Expanded internet service would be provided by Comcast to all homes and businesses, affording complete coverage throughout the town. The partnership is estimated to cost the town $1.6 million, payable in two halves, with Comcast agreeing to be responsible for all remaining construction costs in excess of the town’s portion.

Because work would begin soon after voter approval, the selectmen have sought to define the essential position of project performance manager, someone who will serve as a liaison between the project and the town.

SharonConnect chairman Jill Drew, whose volunteer organization has guided the proposal process to date, reported that she had spoken with the town’s project consultant to define some aspects and expectations of the work to be done by the performance manager.

Drew reviewed the consultant’s suggestions for the selectmen. First, the manager should be a temporary, part-time contractor, not a town employee for the work that could run from eight to 18 months in duration. Compensation should fall in the $35 to $50 per hour range, depending on qualifications.

The performance manager would serve as a liaison between the town officials and the job sites, smoothing the way through the permitting processes as the need arises, as well as maintaining open communication with affected residents, while keeping the SharonConnect organization current with information. The application deadline will be Thursday, Nov. 10.

“It’s a busy job,” said selectman Dale Jones, noting that the next step would be to advertise the position.

Reporting that SharonConnect’s budget has an unexpended balance of $8,000, enough to support the position for the current year, but Drew said that the temporary position would need to appear in the coming year’s budget.

Looking ahead to the town’s covering of the $1.6 million partnership with Comcast, Drew suggested that if the town has enough unexpended funds to cover the first half ($800,000), then it is possible that ARPA funding could be earmarked for the second half.

Parking Lot Expansion

Due to alternative plans being proposed for some aspects of the town hall parking lot expansion project, the selectmen agreed that the alternatives should be presented to the design engineer. The decision will bring a pause to the initiation of the first phase of construction work.

Alternatives to the drainage and planting configurations have been suggested by SEEC (Sharon Environment and Energy Committee) member Mike Nadeau, who has introduced stormwater drainage options including biofiltration and native plantings for the parking lot.

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