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PEPPERELL — Selectmen have voted to create a Covered Bridge Committee of seven to nine members appointed to staggered one- to three-year terms to advise the board and oversee expenditure of money to benefit the proposed historic site abutting the soon-to-be completed bridge.

The committee is charged with ensuring maintenance, verifying the accuracy of historic information and promoting the pre-Revolutionary history of the original bridge and its successors. Maintenance work will included oversight of bridge artifacts, historical monuments, a kiosk, park benches, plantings and landscaping.

A search for committee members will soon be posted. Membership will include two ex-officio members from town or state agencies. Town Administrator John Moak recommended Town Engineer Robert E. Lee and one person from the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, which owns the land for the proposed park and historic river overlook.

No more than three committee appointments will expire in any year. Members will continue to serve in their selectmen-appointed office until they are replaced.

The idea didn’t sit well with Women’s Club President Elfreida Parker at first. She told selectmen the club raised $1,500 nine years ago to be used to beautify the former bridge and another $1,800 has since been added.

“This was a group of volunteers. Now they must be appointed by selectmen?” she asked. “I can’t wrap my mind around that.”

Chairman Joseph Sergi said selectmen would not want a group representing the town in an unofficial capacity, adding that the board does not want to interfere or get “into something we shouldn’t.”

“You’d want the authority. It isn’t a rogue group,” he said.

Moak explained the committee is formed to oversee expenditures of money.

Selectman Patrick McNabb, somewhat put off by discussion over something “that should take two minutes,” asked if the worry was that the committee would become politicized.

“We received an e-mail saying some of the (Women’s Club-raised) money should be turned over to the town treasurer,” Parker said.

“The state’s Fisheries and Wildlife wants to work with someone in an official capacity,” Moak explained. “The committee will facilitate and encourage getting things done.”

Parker was mollified when Sergi said it is hoped that volunteers who have worked over the years would become committee members.

“This is also to build credibility and accountability,” volunteer Diane Cronin said.

“We need transparency,” Moak said. “A lot of folks can do things but when it comes to a vote, it needs to be done in the open and relate to the community.”

A memo detailing the scope, duties and membership of the committee defines a priority of membership to such organizations as the Women’s Club, the business community, Historical Society, Historical Commission, Boy and Girl Scouts, veterans associations, the Prudence Wright Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and interested residents.

The committee will appoint its chairman, vice chairman, secretary and financial officer. It will report to selectmen on a quarterly basis. Any municipal funds required for operation must be requested through selectmen.

Cronin said it is hoped that a dedication of the park and river overlook will take place around Labor Day.

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