November 24. 2013 10:08PM

Plaistow selectmen, town manager at odds over land purchase proposal

Union Leader Correspondent

PLAISTOW — Some selectmen are concerned about the lines of communication with Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald over a proposal to buy four acres of private land as the home for the town’s highway garage and salt shed.

For years, the town has been looking at a more suitable site for the garage and salt shed. Over the past year, the Plaistow First Committee has been looking at potential sites and solutions to the garage problem.

At a meeting earlier this week to discuss potential warrant articles for the March Town Election, Fitzgerald presented an article that would ask voters to raise and spend $100,000 for an as-yet unnamed parcel of land as a new site for the garage and shed.

Selectman Michelle Curran was among those board members that were less than pleased that Fitzgerald had drawn up the warrant article with little input from the board and before it got to hear a report from Plaistow First.

“I take offense at this,” said Curran. “Not because it’s not a great suggestion, but we’ve been talking for weeks about having Plaistow First coming in and having a presentation, and to have this show up now with just a blurb, it’s not preparing us or giving us a presentation we’ve been promised for almost six months.”

Fitzgerald noted that the warrant article is not finalized and is a placeholder while the town looks at a potentially suitable piece of property. He said the Plaistow First Committee has been involved in the process and added that he has been keeping selectmen up to date through emails.

Selectman John Sherman moved to defer action on approving the warrant article for inclusion on the Town Election ballot.

“I think it is appropriate when we are talking about this to know what parcel we are talking about,” said Sherman.

Selectman Dan Poliquin agreed with Curran that the article should not have been brought forward the way it was.

Fitzgerald said he took responsibility for how the article was presented and added that Plaistow First has been working diligently to explore potential sites for the highway garage and salt shed throughout the town.

“I think the committee has done a great job, this is not about the committee,” said Curran. “We haven’t heard what the committee has to say, so it’s hard to put a lot of stock in this.”

Fitzgerald said he asked Plaistow First to give him several more weeks to negotiate with the landowner before the committee makes its presentation.

“Maybe you should be coming to us to see if we even want you to negotiate,” said Poliquin.

Curran said she wasn’t surprised by how the information came forward.

“It just would be nice if the board had a conversation before actions take place,” she said. “When the ball is rolling to this point, you are in a position where you force your hand to go one way or the other because you have not presented all the information. We are just being given one option packaged and tied.”