Milford Selectmen candidates speak out

MILFORD – Candidates for two spots on the Board of Selectmen say the condition of roads and bridges is the town’s biggest infrastructure challenge.

The seven candidates expressed their views on a wide variety of municipal topics during a forum last week, moderated by David Alcox.

Alcox, who coaches Milford High School’s Constitution team, questioned the six men and one woman on topics ranging from economic growth to recreation offerings.

The candidates, who are running for two three-year positions, include incumbents Kathy Bauer and Mike Putnam.

Joining them on the March 11 ballot will be Matt Bernard, Ed Densmore, Connie Kelleher, Steve Sareault and Andy Seale.

Bernard, founder of Brinestone, an IT consulting company, said Milford could start a business incubation program to help more people become entrepreneurs.

Densmore founded Chop Shop Custom Cycles in Milford, and he emphasized the importance of keeping taxes low and encouraging more industry to move here.

Kelleher had been employed by the town for 22 years, most recently as Parks and Cemeteries foreman and now works for the Wilton funeral home. He said Milford should “keep government small and spend wisely.”

Sareault, a professional engineer and director of operations for a construction company, has served on the Planning Board and the Ambulance and Police Station building committees. He also served one appointed year on the Board of Selectmen.

Seale said he has been involved with startup high tech companies and is an alternate member of the Conservation Commission and a Cub Scout leader.

Removal of the two dams on the Souhegan River, a proposal that is being studied, seems to be low on the priority list for all the candidates.

An addition to the Wadleigh Memorial Library got mixed support from the seven.

Bauer said it is “desperately needed,” Bernard said he favors it, Densmore and Kelleher said he needs more information, and Putnam said he would wait until the town can afford it.

Renovation of Town Hall also received mixed support, with Bauer saying the building is overcrowded and the town should make use of the empty ambulance facility space. Putnam and Sareault said renovations should be phased in.

Kelleher said he is interested in reclaiming Osgood Pond, having an energy audit of Town Hall and renovating South Street.

In answer to a question about individual goals for the town, Bernard, an Iraq veteran, said Milford should offer veterans “a proper welcome home parade.” He is also a volunteer on the Amherst Fire Department and making sure firefighters are well equipped is a priority.

Seale said he would like townspeople to know that selectmen work for them, and he would like to see natural gas lines extended into residential neighborhoods.

Bauer said one concern that people bring to her is the board’s frequent use of nonpublic sessions.

Selectmen must go into private sessions when discussing anything that would effect the reputation of an employee or the purchase or sale of property, she said, and the reasons for nonpublic sessions are regulated by state law.

In his closing remarks Sareault said the use of capital reserve funds for large purchases is worth debating because they have the potential to even out the tax impact of recurring expenses.

Putnam said roads should be a high priority and doesn’t want to see Milford end up like Amherst with a $15 million road bond.

“I firmly believe that if you take care of the pennies, the dollars take care of themselves,” he said.

In response to a question about town recreation, Bernard said Milford should have a place for kids to go sledding and more playgrounds and Densmore said the town should encourage carnivals to come here.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.