Melissa Receives Her Very Own Library Card

Melissa Contover, 6, of Pelham receives her very own library card at the Pelham Public Library during story time on Thursday evening.  Proud mom Joyce looks on.  Pelham residents who are 6 years of age or older are eligible to receive their own cards.  Call the library at 635-7581 for more information.

Bringing Feudal Times Alive

by Lynne Ober

Students in costume

Midwin Castle hosted a banquet and tournament.  All the lords and ladies were invited.  Court jesters were on hand for entertainment.  The Middle Ages were still alive at Windham’s Middle School.

The banquet and tournament is the culmination of an interdisciplinary unit in Social Studies and Language Arts.  This unit focused on various aspects of the Middle Ages, such as feudal society, castles, weaponry, chess as a medieval battle, art, music, religious life, economic realities of the time and the dreaded Black Plague, that wiped out over one third of the world’s population during the Middle Ages.

The musicians played during the procession.

This banquet, held every year, is a day long event.  The day at Midwin Castle begins as students and staff transform themselves into members of the Middle Ages.  Some of the students rent costumes, but some show ingenuity and make their own costumes. 

Seventh grader Cliff Riendeau, who was one of the musicians who played during the Royal Processions, was proud of his costume.  “I googled and found the beautiful dragon,” he grinned pointing to his shirt.  “Then I enlarged it, made it into a transfer, and put it on my shirt.  He also made his sword.  “I like learning about the fairs, the clothing, and the weapons.  The economics were interesting.  I learned that they had fairs for many reasons,” he said.

Finally it was time for the annual parade of Manors.  The gym was filled with parents as well as excited students from Golden Brook School. 

The king, Andrew Bairstow, and Queen, Erin Shirley, oversee the day’s festivities and lead the procession.  With the musicians in place, the king and queen began the procession.  Altogether there are nine separate manors represented in the procession and throughout the day.  Members from each manor marched together in the royal procession.

The King and Queen lead the Grand Procession.

After the procession, the lords and ladies performed a medieval dance for the assembled audience.

Then it was time for the four course medieval banquet where no utensils would be used.  Seventh grader, Christopher Lugo, 13, played the role of the Pope and blessed the banquet and food with a prayer.

Food tasters were present to taste the food before it was served to the lords and ladies by the serving wenches and peasants.  Kyle Guibault succumbed to tainted food and had to be dragged away by two of the other peasants.

Students ate with their fingers and drank from tankards.  They had learned to toast by saying Huzzah.  In feudal times people wiped their hands on dogs (under the table) but students had to use rags.  Napkins hadn’t been invented yet.

The Great Hall came alive with music and dance of the day.  Court jesters told jokes and showed off their antics to the amusement to the banquet guests.  Guests had to ask permission of the king and queen for every desire.  Traditional dancers entertained the group. 

At all times the king and queen had to be protected by loyal servants.  Danger lurked every where.

After the banquet there was a tournament where the Midwinian manors tested their strength, skill and agility in friendly competitions before the day came to an end and the mists of memory cloud Midwin Castle for another year.

Every manor carried a shield.


by Diane Chubb

The battle regarding Article 19 appears to be getting personal.

Article 19 is a Pelham school district petition warrant article that requests $16 million to plan and construct a 50,000 square foot addition to and renovation of Pelham High School.  Petitioners Kevin Steele and Darren Martin put forth the petition because they do not believe that the current School Board is moving quickly enough to resolve the overcrowding issues at PHS.

The majority of the School Board does not support the warrant article for a variety of reasons.  Member Steven Tello has called the plan a “napkin sketch” because it is not based on any engineering or architectural plans.  Chair Mike Conrad and others are concerned that it will not be feasible to construct a 50,000 square foot addition on the present site for the amount budgeted in the warrant article.  The board feels this warrant article is under funded and many of the promises made on the petitioners' web site would have to be cut.  Those cuts may include core expansion or loss of playing fields. 

In comparison, the Litchfield School Board has a new school on the ballot again this year.  However, they have complete architectural and engineering plans and have budgeted $75,000 for wetlands mitigation permitting.  The Pelham School Board believes that items such as these are missing from the petitioners' plan, and that those kinds of costs will not be truly known until an engineer is able to come in and do a complete assessment. 

If $16 million will not cover a 50,000 square foot addition, the school board will be unable to build a smaller addition due to wording in the warrant article.

As part of their campaign, Kevin Steele authored and printed up a flyer to be distributed throughout town.  The double-sided flyer tries to address some of the concerns set forth by the School Board and contains numerous statements which reflect the petitioners' opinion on the new addition and what benefits it will provide the town.

Mr. Steele chose to distribute his flyers at Community Night, which was held on February 22 at all three Pelham Schools.  Mr. Steele was authorized to have a table where he could provide information. 

On that night, School Board candidate Lorraine Dube was standing just inside the front door at Pelham Elementary School distributing the flyer prepared by Mr. Steele.  Typically there is no “politics” at Community Night.  Many people who attended felt that having a school board candidate handing out flyers about the warrant article, which she supports, was in poor taste.

The original flyer included the following statement about Chair Mike Conrad:

“Mike Conrad the PSB Chairman has already talked to Salem School District about taking our children and possibly Windham also” [sic]

Conrad found out that the flyer was being distributed with incorrect information and informed Dube of the error.  He claims that her response was that she had not read the flyer, but she continued to pass out copies anyway. 

The next day, the Pelham Message Board on the Internet was abuzz with comments regarding the flyer and the manner in which it was distributed.  Regarding the comment about him on the flyer, Conrad stated, “This is a flat out lie!  I have never spoken to anyone in the Salem School District about sending our children there or spoken to Windham.”

Superintendent Elaine Cutler was the one who had the conversation with the Salem Superintendent.  A Lawrence Eagle Tribune article reports that Cutler stated "I asked Salem Superintendent Michael Delahanty, when Windham leaves in 2008, would they consider our students in the tech program?"

Currently, Salem accepts Pelham's students in its vocational technical programs.  PHS does not offer a vocational technical program.   

Dr. Cutler's question was whether Salem would take the students who already go to Salem for the technical programs on a full-time basis.  If the students were allowed to attend Salem High full time, they would not have to be bused back and forth to Pelham. 

In the same article, Conrad was attributed with a comment regarding the high school being at capacity and that the space issue could cause students to move to other districts, including Windham, in the next few years.  He was also referring to the tech students and not the overflow from PHS.

Conrad has said that as part of long term planning, and only in a worst case scenario, Pelham should at least open the conversation with Salem and Windham, especially if Pelham voters continue to reject any of the School Board's proposed solutions, including the request for modulars.  However, he states that no such discussions have actually taken place.

In his posting on February 15, Steele admitted, “The article flipped in talking about Dr. Cutler to Mike Conrad to Dr. Cutler, and I misread it.”  But he went on to add, “For our purposes of showing that discussion had already happened, to the extent that the Salem School Board had already discussed taking Pelham students, it wouldn't matter if it was Dr. Cutler or Mike Conrad.”

Ultimately, however, Steele backed down from his comments and stated, “This statement was simply a mistake that I have taken responsibility for.  I am writing a letter to the editor saying it was Dr. Cutler not Mike Conrad who talked to the Salem Superintendent.”

However, to date, no such letter has appeared in the Pelham~Windham News office for publication.

A few days later on February 17, Steele posted the following:

“I have by no means intentionally lied with what I put on the flyer.  I believe that people should know that if something is not done soon, addition or new site that some of our students could be going to other schools.  It is something that this school board has said [sic] could be an option.  So putting it on the flyer is not misleading.

Attributing it to Mike Conrad was a mistake, and a very costly mistake.  Not on [sic] does it take away from my credibility personally it effects how people perceive what I support.

Does it matter that as soon as I found out that the flyer had incorrect information on it I took responsibility?  Does it matter that we have stopped distributing the incorrect flyers?  Does it matter that I have 6,000 2 sided color flyers that I have to throw away?  Does it matter that I have to pay for another 6,000 color flyers, and another 1,000 black and white flyers?  Does it matter that I said I will write a letter to the editor explaining this mistake?

No, it doesn't.  But what does matter is the steps taken to rectify the mistake, how quickly those steps were taken, and what it says about the person who made the mistake.

If all I was interested in was making Mike Conrad look bad, I would not have taken these steps and cost myself hundreds of dollars in wasted printing costs.”

Residents who posted on the Message Board were disturbed by the misinformation that had been provided in the flyer.  Barry Stankiewicz stated, “I am disturbed with this sort of politics.  To publish a flat out lie in a flyer is greatly disturbing.  This was not just a twisted truth.  I am convinced this was a flat out lie.  And then to post a weak apology on the Message Board is no better.”

Mr. Steele requested to be on the agenda for the February 22 Pelham School Board meeting.  However, he was not able to appear, and his letter to the Board was read in his absence.  The letter is available for review at the Pelham Library and the SAU office.  It has been re-printed in its entirety below:

“At Community night it was brought to my attention that a flyer was being handed out that I authored concerning the Warrant Article for an addition to Pelham High School.  In this flyer it stated that Chairman Conrad had talked to the Salem Superintendent about the possibility of some Pelham students attending Salem High School on a full time basis.  I found out that it was not Chairman Conrad but Superintendent Cutler who talked with the Salem Superintendent.  When I found out the flyers were wrong, we stopped handing them out; I placed an apology on the Message Board, took responsibility for this mistake, and ordered new flyers to be distributed.  This was in now (sic) way intended to mislead voters about Chairman Conrad, if it was I would not have thrown away over 6,000 flyers and paid for new ones to be printed.  It was simply a mistake and I would also like to apologize to the PSB for any dismay I may have caused you.

This was completely my fault, no others had any part in this mistake and the people handing out the flyers had not seen them before handing them out, in fact they had to open the brand new packages to distribute them.  The person who was planned to work the PHS was unable to or it would have been myself handing them out.”

At no time, either on the Message Board or in his letter, did Steele clarify that the students in question who would be attending Salem High on a full-time basis were vocational students who already go to Salem for the tech courses and not overflow students.

The new flyer was distributed with the February 24 issue of the Pelham~Windham News.  The disputed part of the flyer now reads as follows:

“Mike Conrad the PSB Chairman has already suggested getting a letter from Salem stating they would take some Pelham High students.”

Upon learning of the new flyer, Mike Conrad stated, “It's a shame this group, which has support of two school board candidates, can submit a flier full of half truths and deception.  It's a different game when you are bound by RSAs and the law.  This is dirty politics no matter how you look at it.”

Interesting Candidates’ Night in Pelham

by Lynne Ober

The Pelham League of Women Voters hosted Pelham Candidates’ Night.  Each candidate had an opportunity to discuss why he or she was running for office and to introduce themselves to the audience.

School Board candidate Bruce Couture answers a question as Mike Conrad looks on.

Victor Danevich, running for another term as Selectman, talked about accomplishments and things that still need attention.

Long time Budget Committee member John Lavallee, who is running for “one more term,” did much the same thing.  After so many years on the Budget Committee, Lavallee is very well known and needs no introduction.

Eric Estevez is running unopposed for a one-year seat on the Budget Committee.

Ken Dunne, running for School District Moderator, praised outgoing moderator Phil Currier and acknowledged that Currier left behind big shoes that needed to be filled.

There are four school board candidates for two seats – the only contested race in Pelham.  After introductory remarks were done, there was a brief recess and then the school board candidates fielded questions from the audience – both live and in TV land. 

Jennifer McFee answered the phone for the call-in questions.  Mary Collins kept the questions available for the Moderator, former League of Women Voters member Sandra Kupcho was moderator, and Holly Saurman watched the stop watch to ensure that no candidate took too long to answer.

The questions were varied.  Some were predictable and some were not.  Some were answered and some were not.

The question and answer period was supposed to rotate through the group so that everyone must answer at least one question before hearing another candidate’s response.  Three of the candidates, Mike Conrad, Bruce Couture, and Angele Diack did rotate going first with their answers. 

The first question was about the vision for the school district.  School Board Chairman, Mike Conrad, running for a second term, spoke about the vision coming from the curriculum.  He wanted to have long term solutions based on sound curriculum and not band-aid solutions.

Bruce Couture agreed and said that the curriculum should be strengthened in order to create a strong foundation for students who continue their education into college.

Dube echoed the need to provide children a foundation.

Diack addressed the answer in two parts – one curriculum and one facility-related.  She wanted to be sure that children were engaged in their studies and that the schools were maintained.  Diack was the only candidate to question whether block scheduling was effective for all courses.

Not surprising was a question asking about support of the petitioned addition to the high school.  The answers were interesting.  While Diack said she was glad it was on the ballot, she didn’t commit during the Q and A to being for or against the article. 

Dube said the children are “languishing” and she supported the petitioned warrant article.

Couture worried about the lack of full engineering studies and architectural drawings and said there were “too many questions” that were unanswered at this time.

Conrad spoke against it.  Because he is concerned that the warrant specifies both $16 million as well as 50,000 square feet for the addition, he’s afraid that the money isn’t enough to build that large a space, but with the wording the school board will not be allowed to build anything less than 50,000 square feet should this pass.  He’s contacted three construction firms that specialize in school construction and asked them for advice.  All three think that the money is too low.  “I’m concerned that if it passed we might not be able to give the voters what they voted for.”

One question was about wetland mitigation and permitting for such mitigation if the addition was built as the petitioners envision it.

Because Conrad has been working on the addition in order to see if it is feasible, his answer was the most complete and he talked directly to the question and the issues involved.

Diack said that wetlands might not need to be mitigated because the petitioners only presented a concept and not a complete plan.  

Dube, however, didn’t see any problem and said that wetlands are filled every day by businesses now.

The petitioned warrant article about voting on the SAU budget was interesting for its range of answers.

Couture said, “There are economies of scale in working together.”  He felt that this article sent an incorrect message to Windham.

Conrad spoke about the board wanting to broach the subject at a SAU Board meeting with Windham present and said that he was not in favor of the way that School Board member Linda Mahoney had handled the warrant.  He talked about the negative impact it has made in Windham and the fact that they stopped a meeting and tried to draft a warrant article to withdraw when they heard what had been done.  “While I think we will split at some point, it will cost the taxpayers of Pelham a lot of money.” 

Diack noted that while people may not agree with the method of getting this warrant on the ballot, she didn’t think that people knew how much money was spent on the SAU budget because it was only a line in the Pelham School District budget.

Dube said it was important to vote on the SAU budget and that she’d check with the superintendent about the split.

When asked if elected, the candidate would support School Board votes, as Mahoney did not at the Budget Committee when the petition warrant article for the addition came up, two said yes and two said talked about supporting school board initiated projects.

Couture spoke about needing to vote and work as a board and to support votes even if you did not vote on the prevailing side.  “Otherwise, it creates chaos and a board cannot be effective.  Once a board votes, you should stick behind that vote.” 

Conrad said he agreed with Bruce.  “I’d absolutely vote the way the board votes.”

Both Diack and Dube carefully crafted their answers to talk about supporting projects that the board started or initiated.  However, they did not address how they would handle a school board vote on something like a petitioned warrant article, which the school board did not start.  Diack did elaborate a bit and say that she’d vote as the school board wishes.

When asked about budgeting methodology and how a budget should be developed, Diack said that communication was the most important thing.  She talked about how the Budget Committee reviews the budget and that how knowing that can help her in developing a budget.

Dube said that maintenance was important and talked about maintaining her home as well as wanting to maintain the schools.  She wanted a long range plan.

Couture talked about his work experiences and how he could apply them in developing a budget that let everyone have some input. 

Conrad said that it was all about kids and their education.  He said the Board worked with principals to develop a budget that met the educational needs and talked about how curriculum needs influence budgets. 

Candidates were asked to speak on the petitioned warrant article to get rid of the Budget Committee.  Diack spoke first and was not in support of this article.  She felt the Budget Committee saved the town money and cut down on unnecessary expenses.  She worried about taxpayers if the Budget Committee was eliminated.  She detailed the process used to review budgets and said she felt that supported keeping the tax rate lower.

Dube said she agreed with Diack and supported the Budget Committee.

Couture also supports the Budget Committee and the work that they do.  He is a former Budget Committee member (early 80s timeframe) and said it opened his eyes. 

Conrad does not and said that he signed the petition.  He said he signed the petitioned warrant article out of frustration.  “The Budget Committee did not support the warrant article for the portable classrooms for the second year.  These classrooms are for core curriculum areas such as English.  At the time that I signed the petitioned warrant article, they had not supported the warrant for engineering and architectural studies.  So we had two warrant articles for the high school and neither was supported.  Then we needed $12,000 for replacement desks.  Because we were on a default budget this year, replacement furniture was not purchased.  The Budget Committee has a policy that anything over $10,000 has to go as a warrant article and then they did not support purchasing desks for students and that’s why I signed the warrant article.”

Toward the end of the Q and A period, a question was asked about allowing high school students to see Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List as part of school curriculum.  Both are R rated movies.

Diack said no but the other three seemed to agree that it would be ok with parental permission and if these were part of a planned unit of study.

All in all it was an interesting evening of debate that gives the voters of Pelham a lot to think about.

Warrant Articles Request Additional Staff for Pelham Elementary School/Pelham Memorial School

by Diane Chubb

Growing enrollment and concerns for student safety are the top reasons cited by the Pelham School Board for requesting additional staff at Pelham Elementary and Pelham Memorial School.  The February 13 PTA meeting provided PES principal Alicia LaFrance and PMS principal Catherine Pinsonneault with a forum to discuss the need for additional staff at both schools. 

School District Warrant Articles 6 and 7 request an additional Special Education Teacher/Case Managers, one for the elementary school and one for the middle school.  Pelham School Board supports the approval of all of the requested positions.

Currently at Pelham Elementary School, there are four special education teachers/case managers.  At Pelham Memorial School, there are three.  These caseworkers are responsible for an enormous amount of paperwork, as well as managing Individual Education Plans (“IEP's”) for the students with learning disabilities.  They are also involved with teaching math and English, as well as developing a parallel curriculum for their students with an IEP.  

School Board Member Linda Mahoney stated that the requests for the new positions are purely number driven.  At PES, there are 126 students with an IEP, with an average caseload of over 30 students per caseworker.  At PMS, three caseworkers are responsible for over 93 students with IEPs, an average of over 30 students per caseworker.  A new caseworker in each school will bring the average down to 24 students.  One member added that any class with over 30 students is difficult for a teacher, but a class that size of students with learning disabilities is especially challenging.

Alicia LaFrance, Principal at PES, indicated that this was the second year that this position has been requested.  Mahoney stated that the new special education teacher/case manager positions will provide a direct benefit to those students with learning disabilities.

Four positions are being requested for PES under Article 9 – a general classroom teacher, a physical education/health position, and two instructional aides.  LaFrance stated that the requests are a direct result of increasing enrollment.  She said that there are 925 students at PES right now, 98 more than on opening day this year.  Next year is currently projected at 934 students, but LaFrance believes that it will be even greater. 

  • Classroom Teacher:  Currently, there are 213 students in Readiness and first grade.  That number is projected to be 217 next year. 
  • In grade two, an additional 39 students are expected.  LaFrance said that an extra classroom teacher would be assigned to either grade one or two, and will help PES to maintain state standards with respect to class sizes.  Article 9a requests $50,000 for this teacher. 
  • Physical Education/Health Position:  When PES was built four years ago, a plan was devised to save the school district from the need to immediately hire new Unified Arts teachers, such as music, art and physical education teachers.  PES was to “borrow” Unified Arts teachers from the Memorial School for two years, after which the elementary school would hire its own specialists.  Article 9b requests $50,000 for a physical education/health teacher for PES.

Chair Mike Conrad pointed out that four years later, PES still borrows most of its Unified Arts teachers from the Memorial School.  Five specialists are serving six classes that have 28 - 32 students.  LaFrance pointed out that student safety is an issue, especially when there are 30 - 35 students participating in a physical education class at one time. 

She says that a new physical education/health teacher would address many concerns.  First, both health and physical education classes could be taught in the gym, thus fully utilizing available space.  Class size would be reduced.  As childhood obesity is also a major concern, the additional position would allow students to have physical education class more often.  “It would help two schools at once,” Pinsonneault stated, noting that both schools would have full-time physical education teachers. 

  • Instructional Aides:  Article 9c requests $28,000 to fund two full time instructional assistant aide positions.  Instructional aides at PES support the professional staff, and provide supervision for students at lunch and at recess.

The elementary school currently uses a four lunch/recess schedule.  Next year, it will be moving to a five lunch/recess schedule to meet the growing enrollment.  Each lunch/recess period involves the supervision of 170-200 students.

Currently, there are six adults supervising a recess period.  Due to last year's budget cuts, most of these are volunteer parents.  LaFrance emphasized that the primary goals are safety and consistency.  She believes that it is important for the elementary school children to see the same adults on a regular basis. 

At the end of the evening, Mary Collins thanked all who attended, and reminded all parents of the importance of supporting the school system.  “We urge you to make a difference by exercising your right to vote next month.”  

More information regarding the school district warrant articles is available for review on the Internet at

Both Sides Cite Hidden Agenda

by Lynne Ober

To many of the residents of Stonepost Road, the request of a developer to put a road through the conservation easement and open up their cul-de-sac to through traffic was a situation they didn’t want to face nor had they expected to face it. 

With any dispute, there are two sides.  In this case, both sides believe the other side has a hidden agenda. 

Gaydos said, “They had a hidden agenda.  This wasn’t about preserving conservation land, it was about stopping a road and keeping a cul-de-sac.”

The petitioners think that the town also has a hidden agenda.  Citing Danevich’s words that road connectivity is no longer a pressing issue, and pointing out that multiple access points to Spring Street already exist, the petitioners think that a telling statement was made by Danevich during the deliberative session that the Petition Warrant Article was Petitioners attempt to “block a potential subdivision going through.” 

When you buy a home you spend quite a bit of time finding what you think is the best fit for your life, your family and, without a doubt, your pocketbook.  The people who live on Stonepost Road in Pelham found a safe, friendly neighborhood to raise their families and they want to keep it that way.

Stonepost Road is a long cul-de-sac with homes on both sides of the street and a beautiful New England stone wall at the end of the cul-de-sac.  Over 40 young children live on the road.  These children have a safe place to play, ride their bikes, or visit with friends and their parents want to keep it like that.

At the end of Stonepost Road is town-owned land that has been characterized as conservation land and an important piece in connecting the wildlife corridor. 

Indeed it does connect two designated conservation areas.  One of them, the Calitri Family Conservation Area, is a recent addition to Pelham’s Conservation Area and Conservation Commission members portrayed it as an important piece in connecting the wildlife corridor at the Selectmen’s meeting when the purchase was discussed.  

Petitioners believe that voting yes on their petitioned warrant article supports the goals stated by Conservation Commission at the time of the Calitri land purchase.

When the families bought their homes, they were aware that the land was town owned and had no indication that the town would develop it.  They expected it to stay open space and their road to remain a small village within the town of Pelham.  If you ask Aidan Fallon what he likes best about his house, he will mention that it reminds him of the village that he grew up in – a village where everyone knew everyone and children played safely.

But Town officials think that buying a home abutting undeveloped land should be viewed as “buyers beware.”  Board of Selectman Victor Danevich wonders if the Town's FAQ for home buyers was provided to them by their realtors.  (found on-line at

According to Danevich Appendix II of the subdivision regulations details the differences between temporary cul-de-sac design versus permanent cul-de-sac design.

While the Town calls it safety because the roads are connected, the residents call it dangerous because the safe dead-end road where their children play will now be subject to through traffic.

Residents want to preserve the open space at the end of their road, keep their neighborhood safe for playing children, and enjoy the rural feel of Pelham. 

According to Board of Selectmen Victor Danevich, this property was, indeed, town owned, but not town owned conservation land.  “25 plus years ago we started to plan road connectivity; nine years ago we saw the first opportunity to make the first of two planned connections, and in October/November this year Mr. Harris, following RSA rules, applied to the Town to layout a road across Town owned land.  This action notified abutters.  The abutters came to the Board of Selectmen public hearing, didn't like what they heard that road connectivity was being planned, and shortly later created the petition warrant article to move the 'town land' to 'town conservation land' in an effort to block the proposed road connectivity.  All of this history is clearly captured in both the Planning Board meeting minutes and the BOS meeting minutes.”

To the developer this was business as usual and progress in the making.

At the August 16, 2005 Selectmen’s meeting the developer for the project requested Selectmen’s approval for an easement over town land before a plan went before the Planning Board.  This easement would be used for a road connecting a large development to the end of Stonepost Road.  One Selectman asked for “quid pro quo” from the developer if the Town was giving up land for a road. 

During that August meeting the developer did say that other road configurations were possible and according to Danevich, the developer is proceeding with a plan that does not connect to Stonepost Road.

On November 11, 2005 residents provided Selectmen a copy of their petitioned a warrant article that would ensure that the land at the end of Stonepost Road would definitely be deemed conservation land.  Their warrant article said, “Shall the Town vote to dedicate Tax Map 24, Lot 12-214, Town of Pelham owned land, as Town owned conservation land to be managed by the Town of Pelham Conservation Commission under the provisions of RSA Chapter 36-A.  Lot 12-214 is bordered on each side by two conservation areas, Tax Map 24, Lot 12-41 (Spring Street Conservation Area), and Tax Map 25, Lot 12-38 (Calitri Family Conservation Area).  The dedication of Lot 12-214 as Town-owned conservation land will protect the wildlife corridor and recreational trail system that currently exist between the Spring Street Conservation Area and the Calitri Family Conservation Area.  The dedication of Lot 12-214 as Town-owned conservation land will also be in keeping with the Pelham Master Plan and Natural Resources Inventory.”

In the seven Selectmen’s meetings between the presentation of the petitioned warrant article and the Deliberative session, Selectmen never discussed their response or any proposed action in public session.  According to Danevich it is an established Selectmen’s policy that Selectmen never discuss a petitioner’s warrant article.

During the November 22, Selectmen’s meeting, Town Administrator Tom Gaydos did propose a Selectman sponsored warrant article that would have allowed the developer’s previously filed road layout petition to prevail despite any efforts to put the impacted land in conservation. 

Selectman Hal Lynde questioned whether a Selectman sponsored warrant article was appropriate being that the Selectman had allegedly not taken a position regarding the road layout petition. 

Selectman Ed Gleason also raised some serious concerns about the appropriateness or the need for this warrant article. 

According to Lamport, most of the above conversation is missing from the minutes and one must have a tape of the meeting to hear the discussion.  While Selectmen do keep detailed meeting minutes, which are definitely a benefit to residents, meeting minutes are not verbatim tape transcriptions such as one would find in a court of law.

The day before the Deliberative Session, Richard Torra, one of the petitioners received an e-mail from Gaydos that said, in part, “There may or may not be discussion and there may or may not be any motion to amend the article.”

After listening to the debate on this warrant article from the floor of the Deliberative Session, town counsel wrote a note.  This note, given first to Gaydos, was passed to Danevich. 

According to Danevich, “Town Council suggested that an amendment be made that promotes the conservation parcel but does not interfere with public safety issues.”  Danevich hoped that “this would make both parties happy in that they [the petitioners] got the Conservation designation and the Town ensured that options remain open for a long standing public safety road connectivity issue.”

That amendment was accepted and added, “This warrant will not prohibit road connectivity to facilitate public safety” to end of the petitioned warrant article.

“I support the effort to designate the land as conservation land, with the understanding that to facilitate public safety, we need to provide a second egress to the residents in the Spring Street area, and that this plan is finally coming to be after many, many years of planning,” said Danevich.

However, petitioners are not entirely satisfied with the amendment.  They still hope that people will vote for the warrant article, but they believe that the amendment violates the spirit of conservation land.

It’s clear that there is a significant amount of frustration on the part of the petitioners.  “The petitioners had been very upfront and open about their position on the issues, and they have made their agenda very clear in the letters and presentations they have made before the Selectman and the Planning Board.  As residents of Pelham, and in good faith, the Petitioners exercised their statutory rights to gather signatures and file a petition to put a question in front of our fellow Pelham residents,” said Lamport.

At the Deliberative Session, Chief Fischer stated during discussion of Petition Warrant Article 36 that road connectivity to Spring Street Road was still an issue for the Town.  Petitioners believe that statement is contrary to the Town’s position in August, 2005.

They base this belief on a copy of a Selectmen’s meeting tape where Spring Street connectivity that was deemed “resolved.”

Lamport cites a tape of the August 16 Board of Selectmen’s meeting  and notes, “According to Chairman Danevich, the pressing need for connectivity to Spring Street was resolved with the Lannan Drive connection.”

Lamport has both the tape and the minutes and emphatically states that the minutes do not match the tape.

“Indeed, the Lannan Drive connection cut the time it takes to travel from Town center to Spring Street in half.  Anyone reviewing a map can figure out that connecting Stonepost Road to Poplar Hill Road, as the developer proposes to do, will not reduce the amount of time it takes to reach Spring Street – since the shortest route from Town center (or Ledge Road where the substation is proposed) is still through Lannan Drive,” said Lamport, who continued, “Unfortunately for the residents of Pelham, “road connectivity” is a term that is often and loosely thrown out by politicians and land use boards as justification for development – without any real analysis or consideration of other factors (particularly conservation).”

“Clearly Danevich’s big picture concerns are to minimize any opposition to an impending development.  So, is the real agenda to bend over backwards to help a developers?” wonders 16 year Pelham resident, Lamport.

Despite the amendment, petitioner Lamport urges voters to vote in favor of Article 36.  “While Chairman Danevich has left open the door for development of the proposed conservation area, we are optimistic that with the passage of Article 36 the Board of Selectman will respect the will of the Pelham residents and resist any temptation to disturb this environmentally sensitive parcel.”

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