RUMFORD — Selectmen decided to make plans to remove the trees on lower Congress Street, citing root damage to the sidewalks and sewers at the board's meeting Thursday night.
The town has plans to replace some of the sidewalks along Congress Street next year. If the trees were to stay, their roots would damage the sidewalks again. Selectman Jeffrey Sterling said that the town should act quickly in dealing with the trees because of the cost of replacing the sidewalks and maintenance.
The town plans to replace the trees, which were planted in 1981.
Selectmen also moved to pass an ordinance that would allow the town to vary the start of the winter parking ban. According to Town Manager Carlo Puiia, the winter parking ban in Rumford normally begins Nov. 1. The ordinance would allow the ban to begin Dec. 1, or on the first winter storm event, whichever comes first.
In other business, the selectmen unanimously voted to eliminate night-time voter registration hours that are required by a town ordinance. The issue was revisited Thursday night after it was tabled last week until more information could be provided.
Town Clerk Beth Bellegarde said, "Nobody's ever asked about night-time registration hours, and nobody's ever called and told us, 'I can't make it over in time before you close.'" She said that most towns have a similar ordinance, but law allows towns to adjust hours according to their needs.
Puiia agreed, saying that "leaving one person in the building at night, by themselves, could be problematic."
Resident Peggy Hanley also spoke to the selectmen about providing jersey barriers at the rotary to warn cars to slow down. Hanley mentioned that the potential for an accident is high, because the sidewalk around the rotary is nearly level with the road, and that the winter season could lead to cars sliding off the road and onto the sidewalk.
Board Chairman Gregory Buccina was receptive to the idea. Hanley's point was "very valid," he said. There may be an "opportunity for an accident, especially with tractor-trailer trucks coming around the corner," he said.
Buccina later said that "it won't be done tomorrow," but that they "will move forward with it."
The atmosphere of the meeting became light-hearted after Sterling suggested that the board get involved in the pumpkin carving contest at the Pumpkin Fest on Saturday by having the selectmen carve their own pumpkins.
"As we all know, when you carve a pumpkin, it's called a jack-o-lantern," Sterling said. "And I think the board should submit their own pumpkin. My first thought was a Carl-o-lantern," referring to Puiia's first name and drawing laughter from those in attendance.
Sterling then informed the board and the residents that Selectman Bradford Adley's birthday was approaching and, as a gift, lifted a pumpkin from under the table with a photo of Adley's face pasted on the front. Adley laughed and said, "I don't even have to be here now," and placed the pumpkin beside him.
"Does this mean I get two votes now?" Adley asked the other selectmen with a smile on his face.