Final Revision B – Provided by the Rye Civic League


            Present (clockwise around table):  Town Administrator Michael Magnant, Selectmen Craig Musselman, Priscilla Jenness and Phil Winslow, Finance Director Cyndi Gillespie. 

            Also present and sitting in the audience or the lobby outside:  Interim Fire Chief Tom Lambert, Police Chief Kevin Walsh, Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy. 

Persons present from the public included:  Peter Crawford, Bob Eaton, Bev Giblin, Alex Herlihy, James Tegeder.


Editor’s note:  For ease in finding particular sections using the archived video and audio on the Town website, the elapsed time is indicated.  Use the slider and the elapsed time indicated at the bottom of the video window to fast forward to the desired section.  Videos on the Town website may currently be accessed at by clicking on “Town Hall Streaming” at the bottom left of the screen.  Follow the link for “Town Hall Live Streaming,” then find the meeting by date under “Previous.”

The video starts at 6:30:00 p.m. (0:00 elapsed).




1.      The Selectmen voted to ratify the results of the March town election under special State legislation permitting this, after issues were raised in other towns about the Moderator’s authority to postpone the election due to inclement weather.

2.      Several members of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance were present to discuss possible funding sources to paint the Town Hall.

3.      A decision was deferred on whether Rye would enter into an agreement with New Castle regarding snow removal from the sidewalks of the replacement bridge between the two towns.  Rye has no suitable snow removal equipment.

4.      Ocean Blvd. safety improvements were discussed with a representative from the Rockingham Planning Commission, which had done a corridor study a few years ago.

5.      The Harbor Road Bridge weight limit will likely be reduced at the next meeting.  While three and five axle vehicles will have higher limits than proposed at the May 10 meeting, there will still be issues for concrete and rock trucks.


Announcements (0:14 elapsed)


            Selectman Musselman announced the Memorial Day closing and the Memorial Day ceremony.


Sealing of minutes (0:33 elapsed)


            The motion of Selectman Jenness to seal the minutes of the non-public meetings on May 15, May 18, and the one just concluded, carried unanimously.


Public comment from Jenn Madden re:  six months to obtain approval (0:49 elapsed)


            Jenn Madden referred to her letter.  Editor’s note:  A letter from her is attached to the minutes of the May 10, 2017 meeting.  Ms. Madden said that she was present to find out whether she would be getting a response to the letter.  She said that she had not been treated with courtesy throughout the process.  I applied for a permit to do work inside my building but it took six months.  I continue to “be noticed” for cars parked outside and cars parked in the roadway, things that I cannot control.  Cars pull into 371 Sagamore constantly and talk on the phone.  They have nothing to do with me and there is not a lot I can do about it.  I sat in the meeting last time for three hours.  I did not know the process.  I did everything right and it took me six months to obtain a permit, she said.


Consent Agenda (4:55 elapsed)


            Items A, D and F, raising the expenditure limit before a Purchase Order is required to $500, approving a sign request at Parson’s Field advertising Memorial Day celebrations, and filing a letter from NHDES regarding PRAS, were unanimously approved.

            A representative from the Energy Committee showed a proposed sign for Parson’s Field, advertising a Solar Open House and an Energize 360 meeting.  These were immediately approved after he did that (items B and C).

            There was discussion about item E, a letter from Hampton to NHDES regarding a large groundwater withdrawal project.  Selectman Jenness said that she assumes that this relates to Aquarion, which does not receive enough attention.  The Rye Water District serves a large portion of town, but all of the Jenness Beach Village District and the Rye Beach Village District are served by Aquarion.  There are more and more questions about Aquarion coming up.  Stratham has requested service from them.  The pipes in my area of Jenness Beach are rusty and in need of repair, she said. 

            Selectman Musselman suggested increased monitoring of the Rye Water District and Aquarion by one of the Selectmen.  The interaction with the Rye Water District has thus far been limited to discussion of a rate change at the Budget Committee.  Editor’s note:  Rye Water District recently increased its water rates due to a rate study that indicated that a smaller portion of the costs of the District should be recovered through taxes, and a larger portion through water rates.  Selectman Musselman, as the Selectmen’s representative on the Budget Committee, had pushed for this change.            Selectman Jenness said that the Planning Board is diligent in protecting the aquifer, but no such protection is in place for Aquarion.  Selectman Musselman said that the Jenness Beach District is authorized by their founding documents to deal with water issues.  Selectman Jenness said that, until recently, they have not been involved in this subject area.  Selectman Winslow said that he had attended the last two Water District meetings as a private citizen.  He volunteered to continue to attend these meetings.  Selectman Musselman noted that a document that Mr. Winslow had passed along revealed that Wright-Pierce had noted that more frequent rate changes would be needed in the future.  In the past, rates have been changed only “once in a coons age,” with increased costs added to the tax rate until someone screams.  We are going to need to watch that, he said.  Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy noted that there was actually closer coordination with Aquarion than the Rye Water District.  The motion to place item E on file carried unanimously.


Public hearing on legalization of election delayed due to snow (12:52 elapsed)


            Selectman Musselman said that the purpose of the hearing was to determine whether the Board of Selectman would ratify and legalize the postponement of the election from March 14 to March 18 due to a snowstorm.  This is in accordance with Chapter 20:6 of the laws of 2017, he said.

            Town Moderator Bob Eaton noted the serious blizzard on March 14 which had been, at that point, forecast for several days.  RSA 40:4, II  specifically authorizes the Town Moderator to postpone a local election in the event of a snow emergency, provided reasonable notice is given.  Unfortunately the Secretary of State and the Governor, to some degree, on the eve of the election, opined that the State of New Hampshire does not do snow dates.  In conjunction with input from Police Chief Kevin Walsh and the Board of Selectmen, I made the decision to postpone the election because the safety of voters and election workers is more important than making sure that we vote on the exact day.  More voters would be enfranchised.  I made the decision then and would make it again.  However, because the election was called into question, and towns that passed bonds might have a bigger problem than we would, the Legislature passed a bill to allow towns to ratify the election results.  The elections of officials has already been ratified, he said, but, as to warrant articles, it is up to the Board of Selectmen.  While I am very confident that my decision would be upheld in a court of law, it would be foolhardy not to ratify the decision as one never knows when someone might challenge the town’s action on one of the warrant articles, he said. 

            Selectman Winslow noted that the Town Clerk and the Assistant Town Clerk were present at the polling place on the 14th.  Moderator Eaton noted that that was true and that their lives were put at risk to some extent.  He thanked everyone who supported the process.

            Peter Crawford said that he supported Mr. Eaton and thought that he had done the right thing.  RSA 40:4 is very clear, the Moderator does have this authority.  RSA 669:1 says that all elections shall be the second Tuesday in March, but the more specific provision overrides the general provision. 

            Mr. Crawford noted, however, that the statute provides that, if a Deliberative Session is postponed, the follow-on has to occur within 72 hours.  That hasn’t been followed:  substitute Deliberative Session have been scheduled for the following Saturday.  Whether that would be legal in the event of a snow day on the first Saturday should be looked into, he said. 

            Bob Eaton noted that, when the Deliberative Session is noticed, the snow date is also disclosed, and that also falls within the statutory period.  Selectman Musselman said that 72 hours would not work, as the Deliberative Session would then be on a Tuesday. 

            Selectman Musselman read the ratification motion.  That motion was made by Selectman Jenness and seconded by Selectman Winslow and carried unanimously.  He then referred to a resolution but did not read it.  The motion to pass the resolution was made by Selectman Jenness, was seconded by Selectman Winslow, and carried unanimously.  At the suggestion of Selectman Winslow, the resolution was passed around.  Editor’s note:  The resolution refers to the Rye Civic News having publicized the election delay, among other methods used to communicate the delay to the citizens.

            Moderator Eaton said that the election was now officially put to bed.


Minutes (21:05 elapsed)


            The minutes of the May 10, 2017 meeting were unanimously approved with changes.  The minutes of the May 10, 2017 and May 15, 2017 non-public sessions were unanimously approved without changes.


Appointment of Brad Fulkerson to the Beach Committee (24:00 elapsed)


            Mr. Fulkerson introduced himself and was unanimously appointed to a one year term.  He said that he had lived in Rye for a couple of years.  Selectman Musselman noted that Mr. Fulkerson lives near Wallis Sands. 


Possible funding sources for restoration of Town Hall (25:20 elapsed)


            David Choate, 108 Washington Rd., said that he is also on the board of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance.  Tonight, other members are present.  Jeff Gilbert, another Rye resident, is Chairman of the Board.  Jennifer Goodman is Executive Director and Andrew Cushing is Project Director.  The goal of the Alliance is to find a way to preserve at least the exterior of the building.

            Ms. Goodman said that the Alliance works on 80 projects across the State every year.  The Rye Town Hall was put on the “Seven to Save” list a couple of years ago.

            Mr. Choate spoke about “mothballing” the building for another future use to be determined.  He said that a lot of people in Rye want to preserve the building but are unsure about its future.  They do not want to tear it down. 

            Selectman Musselman said that expansion of the existing Town Hall for use as a Town Hall is not on the table.  He referred to a slight majority having approved the warrant article by John Loftus, however there were no dollars attached to that.  Editor’s note:  See 2017 Article 34, which passed 873-700 and refers to a design by Mr. Loftus, at no cost to taxpayers, for a new Town Hall.  Although discussions surrounding this article referred to tearing down the existing Town Hall to make room for the new one, the warrant article does not refer to demolition of the current building.

            Selectman Musselman referred to a committee of the School Board being formed to look at options for Rye Junior High School.  That facility could be put to town use for much less cost. 

            He also referred to a $500,000 warrant article to paint the existing Town Hall and provide handicapped access, which failed to pass.  Editor’s note:  See 2017 Article 30, which failed 702-874.  There is a significant question of whether, due to that, any money can be spent this year.   An estimate has been received in the amount of $73,000 to scrape and paint the building.  Even if that money could be spent, there is not enough excess in the budget to pay for that, he said.  Editor’s note:  Every year, the town runs a surplus, which adds to the unassigned fund balance.  Prior year surpluses may be used to reduce taxes the following year.  In 2013-2014 the portions of the prior years’ surpluses used to reduce taxes were $818,648, $268,722, $400,000 and $1,000,000 respectively.      

            One of the members of the Alliance referred to the $500,000 warrant article not having passed due to the lack of a long-term use for the building.  Perhaps there should be a conversation about $200,000 to “mothball” the building.  Grants could also provide funding, the person said. 

            There was discussion about the percentage to be funded by taxpayers.  For smaller rural towns, 20 percent might be provided by taxpayers, and the rest by friends, L-Chip, donations and Heritage commissions.  In Wolfeboro, 80 percent was town funded.  A similar percentage should be expected in Rye. 

            Mr. Choate referred to there being a lot of misinformation out there about Town Hall features not being exposed.

            Jeff Gilbert spoke about the need to determine the highest and best use of the Town Hall building.  Mr. Choate said that the bulk of the voters are not willing to spend money on the interior.  The exterior, however, could be stabilized.  There was discussion about $10,000 to do an assessment.  Ms. Goodman said that grants might be available to fund that.

            Andrew Cushing asked whether money in the maintenance fund might be spent on Town Hall.  Selectman Musselman said that that question had not yet been posed to the Town Attorney. 

            Heritage Commission Chairman Bev Giblin said that the concern of the Heritage Commission is with preserving the building, regardless of the ultimate use.  There has been no ongoing upkeep for several years.  Selectman Musselman agreed.  Ms. Giblin said that the building is becoming more decrepit.  The Heritage Commission is ready to raise funds, she said. 

            Mr. Cushing said that it is hard to believe that there is not money within the purview of the Selectmen to make sure that the building is not going to fall down. 

            Mr. Choate raised the possibility of a preservation easement.  He said that Town Meeting approval has not been necessary in the past.  Oxford used this option.

            Alex Herlihy, member of the Heritage Commission, emphasized that the building is not falling down and there have been recent expenditures on a new roof and HVAC system. 

            Jennifer Goodman asked about the steel reinforcements that were proposed to be added to the walls.  Selectman Musselman said that, if there is renovation for a specific use, that would need to be addressed.  Editor’s note:  The addition of the reinforcements was proposed by the architect and structural engineer in 2014 in order to meet the latest wind and earthquake loading standards.  The scope of the renovation required bringing the building up to the latest Building Code.  That would not necessarily be required if a project with a smaller scope is proposed.

            Selectman Jenness said that the reason that the building has not been painted is that optimists thought that approval to renovate the building would be obtained. 

            There was further discussion about a preservation easement, which Andrew Cushing stated would be premature.  Selectman Musselman referred to creating controversy before there is a vision.


Rye/New Castle Bridge maintenance agreement (69:43 elapsed)


            Victoria Chase, NHDOT, came to sit at the table.  There was discussion about the sidewalk or sidewalks to be part of the bridge and whether these would be officially called sidewalks.  Selectman Musselman noted that Rye has no equipment to clear sidewalks of snow, but that the bridge needs a sidewalk.  Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy said that no sidewalks, anywhere in Rye, are plowed, even in the Precinct.  Editor’s note:  This is an apparent reference to the Rye Beach Village District.  There was discussion about the possibility of contracting sidewalk snow removal to the Wentworth Hotel.  Selectman Musselman referred to $10 million having been saved by not making the bridge a lift bridge.  Ms. Chase said that the bridge has still not received a permit.  That is a “mountain to climb,” she said.  Editor’s note:  This is an apparent reference to the difficulty of obtaining approval to block access to certain vessels traversing a navigable waterway.  The current bridge lifts.  There has been discussion about using the sheltered area on the other side of the bridge to protect vessels in the event of a major storm.

            Selectman Jenness said that, before she votes, she wants to know whether the Wentworth will pay for the maintenance.  She does not think that Rye will. 

            The matter was tabled to the June 12 meeting to allow the Town Administrator to talk with New Castle and the Wentworth. 

            Ms. Chase then left.

            Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy said that the whole project would turn on whether Rye wants sidewalks on the bridge. 


Improvements needed to Ocean Blvd. (98:49 elapsed)


            Scott Bogle, Senior Transportation Planner, Rockingham Planning Commission, came to the table. 

            Selectman Musselman provided the history.  He said that there have been proposals in town to limit access to the beach, but the Board of Selectmen have, for 30 years, supported access.  We are having trouble with parking, both on Ocean Blvd. and side streets.  In the past year and a half we have proposed the installation of parking meters at Jenness Beach to NHDOT.  Two weeks ago we received a response indicating that they were not of a mind to approve those, as it would reduce the spaces available for people from the region, Massachusetts and Quebec, to access Rye’s town beaches as well as the State beaches.  Their comment was that we should work with Division Six to maintain safety without reducing the number of parking spaces.  We pulled out the New Hampshire Byway report done two years ago.  There is a recommendation, RTP-1, applicable between Locke Rd. and Jenness State Beach and between Old Ocean Blvd. and Wallis Rd., to reduce safety conflicts by (a) enforcing no parking within 20 feet of intersections and crosswalks, (b) remove on street parking on one or both sides of Ocean Blvd. and (c) widen the pavement for bikeways.  He asked whether Scott, whether the Rockingham Planning Commission staff had determined that these were the only solutions.

            Mr. Bogle said that they had focused on the Pirates Cove and Jenness Beach areas.  An assessment of available rights-of-way had been done.  For Route 1A the Dudley survey from the 1890s, updated in the 1940s, was referred to.  It appeared that the right-of-way extended beyond the current paved area so that additional width could be obtained.  Shoulders now range between 10 and 12 feet, but 14 feet is needed to accommodate the car, space for the door to open, and the bike lane.  At least 4 feet of shoulder would need to be added.  There is space in the front yards of people north of Jenness Beach that is actually in the right-of-way.  However, a full survey would need to be done, he said. 

            An off site parking area of the Middle School was discussed, but there would be a substantial cost of running the shuttle would need to be paid for by DRED.  Editor’s note:  That refers to Department of Resources and Economic Development.  Selectman Musselman confirmed that the town would not want to pay for that.

            Selectman Musselman asked how the road improvements could be put in the ten year plan.  Scott said that the widening of the shoulder of Route 1B had been moved up to first priority in the region, out of 45 projects.

            There was discussion about a joint plan with North Hampton or with both Hampton and North Hampton.  Mr. Bogle agreed to take the lead, but warned that it would be a two year effort and public support would be needed at the hearings. 

            Selectman Jenness referred to the lack of emphasis on drainage.  There are two sections that are overwashed in Rye, near the Harbor and at Eel Pond.

            Selectman Musselman asked the view of the current Board of Selectmen regarding beach access.  Selectman Jenness distinguished between beach access and parking.  Selectman Winslow said that safety trumps everything.  Editor’s note:  Former Selectman Mills was perhaps the most vocal proponent of beach access.

            Selectman Musselman said that, if DRED wants to provide remote parking, we could help them in finding a site.

            Selectman Winslow said that they should not give up on banning campers. 

            Selectman Musselman referred to, one Sunday morning, parking near Wallis Sands having disappeared by decree of the Governor.  He asked about prohibiting parking on one side of Ocean Blvd. near Jenness Beach.

            Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy asked whether the Complete Roads program was a possible source of funds.  Mr. Bogle referred to that being oriented towards design and not being a source of funds. 


Energy Committee:  Energize 360 program (130:16 elapsed)


            Tom Pfau addressed.  He said that there had been an open house the prior week and that there will be another one on June 7 and a session at the Library on June 15.  There was discussion about the tax benefits of solar panels.  Mr. Pfau said that $2500 is available from the State and an additional tax benefit is available from the town, amounting to the exclusion of the solar energy equipment from the taxable value of homes. Editor’s note:  The limit for this exemption was increased from $15,000 to $35,000 by 2013 Article 18, which passed 653 to 408.  However, there was an unsuccessful attempt at the 2013 Deliberative Session by Jeff Quinn, Diane Bitter and Shawn Crapo to amend the warrant article to reduce the maximum exemption to $1, which would have effectively eliminated the credit.

            All were in favor of allowing cards describing the program to be distributed at the Recycling Center.


Lifeguard, part-time, seasonal and call firefighter wages (137:05 elapsed)


            Interim Fire Chief Tom Lambert addressed.  Town Finance Director Cyndi Gillespie said that she and Fire Lieutenant Jake McGlashing had already presented this to the Selectmen.  The motion  to approve the wage changes carried unanimously.


July fireworks approval (138:37 elapsed)


            Interim Fire Chief Tom Lambert addressed.  He said that the fireworks would be the same as the past ten years.  There have been no complaints.  There were separate votes on the July 3 fireworks at Sawyers Beach by the Beach Club and the July 4 fireworks, as a town event, at Parson’s Field.  Both carried unanimously. 

            There was discussion about the recently-enacted ban on private fireworks, absent a permit.  Police Chief Kevin Walsh said that the situation has improved.  There have been a couple of tickets issued, he said. 


Harbor Road Bridge weight limit (141:13 elapsed)


            Editor’s note:  See the notes of the May 10, 2017 meeting at which the engineer presented various options to refurbish this bridge and disclosed that its weight-bearing capability was less than had been thought.  Selectman Winslow lives on the far side of this bridge.

            Selectman Winslow noted that the minutes of the May 10 meeting do not disclose the weight capacities associated with each of the various options.  He said that he had talked to a couple of constituents on Harbor Rd.  There are 24 properties on Harbor Rd. assessed at a total of $27.459 million, paying annual taxes of $307,540.  He also said that he had talked to D.F. Richard.  They have oil trucks that are 16 tons, just over the limit.

            Selectman Musselman interrupted, saying that it varies depending on the number of axles.  Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy described how varying weight limits, based on the number of axles, had been developed.  The new limits would be:


            2 axles                         15 tons

            3 axles                         23 tons

            5 axle tractor-trailers   36 tons


            Selectman Musselman asked about four axle trucks, asserting that rock trucks may fit in this category.  Mr. McCarthy said that these would need to be addressed individually.  He said that the actual load postings had just been obtained from the engineer.  There is still a problem with the 23 ton limit.  Service trucks may have to come in half loaded.  Septic haulage trucks will need to come in empty. 

            Selectman Winslow said that he talked with a concrete company.  Their trucks are 18 tons empty.  Each yard of concrete is 2 tons, so truck with 10 yards of concrete would weigh 38 tons total.  Mr. McCarthy said that they are 3 axles, so would be limited to 23 tons. 

            Selectman Winslow said that he had talked to Philbricks Septic which should be OK.  Their trucks are 19 tons full. 

            In the case of sea wall work after a significant storm, Selectman Winslow talked to Greg Bauer.  His 10 wheel dump trucks are 15 tons empty.  He fills them three-quarters full, which would be 35 tons.  Mr. McCarthy said that, if the truck is three axles, it would be limited to 23 tons.

            Selectman Musselman asked about trucks that are longer than the bridge.  Mr. McCarthy said that some are.  Then not all axles are on the bridge at once and they can make a request for an exception.

            Selectman Musselman referred to limiting the speed to 10 m.p.h. to limit the impact of the heaviest wheel.  Mr. McCarthy said that he thought that this had already been taken into consideration.

            Mr. Winslow said that, to move rocks, an excavator is needed.  That weighs 32 tons.  Mr. McCarthy said that he would then be over the limit applicable to five axle vehicles, but he could apply to bring it in on a six or eight axle bed. 

            Mr. McCarthy said that, if limits are not posted, the town, and even the Selectmen, could be liable. 

            Selectman Winslow said that option three should be considered, which would increase the limit to 99,000 pounds.  He referred to a fund available, according to his conversation with the DOT Director.  She says that there is money available for “shovel ready” projects, he said.

            Selectman Musselman asked whether the engineering should be stopped and a $325,000 warrant article placed next year. 

            Selectman Winslow said that it’s like the Town Hall.  It can be painted, but that would be like putting lipstick on a pig.  

            Selectman Musselman argued that, due to the future availability of grants, the same thing could be accomplished by spending $100,000 now, and $60,000 ten years from now.  Everyone would think that that’s a good idea, he argued. 

            Selectman Winslow noted that the service life would be 35 years, more than twice as long as the other option.

            Selectman Musselman said that he had had a discussion with the bridge engineer at his firm, and that it typically comes down to rock trucks being the most significant constraint. 

            It was agreed that there two week delay in the decision to have the engineer, Hoyle Tanner, come back in and talk about the funding of Option 3.  In the meantime, Mr. McCarthy said that he would order the signs, which would not be ready for two weeks anyway, so that they could be installed right away once the ordinance has been adopted.


Fuel oil bids (163:48 elapsed) 


            Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy said that Atlantic Fuel is the low bidder this year at $1.79 per gallon for number 2 fuel oil, and $1.86 for blended fuel oil.  Diesel is 8 cents over the rack price.  Hanscom Truck Stop, which is currently doing all four, is still the low bidder for gasoline at 14 cents over the rack price.  The prices this year are $1.72 for number 2 and $1.82 for blended and 9 cents over the rack price for diesel.  Gasoline, he believes, is already 14 cents over rack.


Animal Control Officer and beach drinking issues (165:47 elapsed)


            Police Chief Kevin Walsh addressed.  He said that two of the seasonal parking employees are interested.  There has been a lack of applicants.  They will work this summer with Greg, whose hours will be cut back.  There are no benefits.  The days that the employees are not doing this they would be doing parking enforcement.

            The discussion turned to other beach enforcement issues.  Chief Walsh said that drinking on the beach is continuing.  People who have been getting tickets are shocked that the police are there.  It is important that a cruiser with a tablet be nearby so that ages can be checked.  People will lie about that.  Liquor enforcement will do undercover work.  There is also the need to perform tests as some are combining Gatorade and hard liquor, he said.


Awards to EMS Staff by Portsmouth Hospital (172:11 elapsed) 


            Interim Fire Chief Tom Lambert announced that, in addition to Rye being selected department of the year, Lieutenant Jake McGlashing had been selected EMS provider of the year due to his interaction with hospital staff.


Beach outhouses


            Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy announced that these would be going up in the next week.  The enclosures are in horrendous shape.  A decision is needed on whether or not to build new ones. 

            That led to discussion about the reason for the enclosures.  Apparently neighbors did not like the way that the outhouses looked.  It was revealed that there are problems with detritus, such as needles and mirrors, falling down between the inner and outer structures.


Adjournment (181:13 elapsed)


            Whereupon the meeting adjourned at approximately 9:31 p.m.