Many problems with Scituate Housing Authority uncovered

Many problems with Scituate Housing Authority uncovered

SCITUATE – Town Council members, split along party lines Thursday in a 4-3 vote, removed Brian Carpenter from the Scituate Housing Authority after a review found more members than allowed were acting on authority business each month.

“There is a lot of deficiencies and inaccuracies with this particular board,” Mahoney said.

Richard Finnegan, an appointee of the Town Council, had been asked to research the history of the commission and recommend changes.

According to him, the housing authority was founded in 1970 with four positions with terms of five years, with substitutions made only in the case of resignation, retirement, or death.

“In 2015, there were six non-resident commissioners when there are only four positions,” Finnegan said. “They served on the board in violation of the law.”

Apparently, members continued to sit on the commission even after their terms had expired and some were considered members of the board without ever being officially appointed by the Town Council, he said.

“Once a new member was appointed, no member left the board,” Finnegan said.

This is what happened with Carpenter who remained on the authority until March 13 even though his term expired in January 2017, according to Finnegan.

Adding to the controversy surrounding the housing authority, on March 13 five individuals resigned from its board: Merritt Crowley, William Mende, James Sweeney, Erik Wieselquiest Jr., and Mona Pearlman.

There was also uncertainty of when the board last met, which Finnegan suggested may be more than a year ago.

Trying to rebuild this commission, the Town Council appointed Fred Turchetta as resident commissioner, a position that was vacant since 2008.

Carol Costa was also appointed to the housing board. That appointment comes just a year after Costa sued the Warren Housing Authority, where she was once head of the department.

In other council business, councilors voted to allocate $369,545 of unused fiscal year 2016/17 capital funds into the capital reserve account designated for the construction of a new police station.

The decision passed despite questioning from Councilor Charles Collins Jr. who questioned why the funds couldn’t go to the Scituate Community House or the Scituate Senior Center, two organizations that residents counter also need funding.

Mahoney responded that the infrastructure of the police station is failing and needs to be made a priority.

“That can has been kicked down the road for 30 years now,” said Mahoney.

The police station savings account was created at a March 21 Town Council meeting and the council voted to put $2,126.98 from a tax-sale redeemed property into it during a March 30 meeting.

In addition, Scituate may soon have its own municipal court after the council voted to form a committee to assess the feasibility of establishing such a court.

A municipal court is in charge of distributing and collecting fines and fees related to traffic, zoning, animal, and environmental violations.

Currently the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal collects money from tickets, but the creation of a municipal court would allow these funds to remain in the town.

Although one resident expressed concern that this may encourage increased ticketing, President Mahoney assured him otherwise.

“Are we going to be on a quest to implement an excessive amount of tickets?” Mahoney said. “The answer is going to be no.”

Residents might also have another dining option on the horizon. Louis and Nadine Polseno might be opening a 50 seat farm-to-table restaurant at 661 Hartford Pike and asked to be granted a liquor license. The property has a vineyard and would produce enough grapes for homemade wine, according to the couple’s legal representation. The Town Council approved the request.

Residents may recall that the number of liquor licenses in the town was increased by one in January, but the Town Council began a process Thursday night to add two more, which will bring the town’s total to five.