By John Seidenberg
SANDOWN – The Sandown Board of Selectmen have adopted a formal complaint policy and complaint form for use.
The town had already asked that complaints be in writing, some of which were made by email. Still tracking complaints and how they were handled could be difficult, Town Administrator Lynne Blaisdell pointed out at the May 24 meeting.
The board’s action officially puts a policy in place for complaints, determining issues of confidentiality, providing a form to complete, establishing a routine for response, prioritizing complaints, and tracking their nature.
Under these procedures, the town can act more promptly on emergency or health and safety issues. Decisions additionally will be made on researching complaints, if a site visit should be conducted, and about meeting with complainants or the targets of complaints if warranted.
Town employees could also use this process, Blaisdell said.
However, Vice Chairman Jonathan Goldman specified there is a separate process for allegations of sexual harassment or other forms of bullying. He emphasized that department heads would the party to act on a complaint, and the relevant selectman liaison merely would be notified of steps taken.
Information would only go in an employee’s file in cases of disciplinary action, and this would not become part of personnel files. Records of complaints would be stored with the selectmen and the related department head.
Separately, the board gave the town administrator approval to contact the town counsel concerning a right of way situation on Elizabeth Road between two abutting properties. The area was originally dedicated to the town as a public way intended for future development.
However, that development never occurred and the adjoining property owners had inquired about purchasing the land.
As the governing body the selectmen could release the property from the public way although the land is not owned by Sandown, Blaisdell told the board.
The legal owner would be the heirs of the developer who the neighboring property owners would need to contact to obtain a quick claim deed.
In other business, the board accepted a $15,000 donation from the Phillips Pond Association for treatment of Phillips Pond. This was an offset to the $46,850 warrant article the town approved in March for this purpose. Sandown is also seeking grant funds of $18,000 for work on the pond.
In another matter previously brought to their attention, members declined to reimburse repair expenses for a Chester resident who drove over a pothole on Hampstead Road. Justin Murray had appeared before the board at an earlier meeting to request the town pay a $218 repair bill for damages to his car’s tire.
While expressing sympathy for Murray, Selectman Darren Hudgins said people drive at their own risk and noted he has picked up nails in his tires for which he doesn’t hold anyone else responsible.
That portion of the road is known to have poor drainage and often broken pavement. The pothole in question was patched later in the day that this incident occurred.
Selectman Robert Nickerson commented some low profile tires have no air cushion.
The board’s view was acting on this request could “open the flood gates” from others in similar circumstances. The selectmen also didn’t know about the condition of Murray’s car or the age of his tire.
They cited protection the town has by statute from this kind of liability and the inability to know where all potholes are located.
In appointments, the board named Deb Brown as an alternate member to the Joint Loss Management Committee with a term to expire in March 2023.
The selectmen will next meet on June 7.