Rowley Board of Selectmen newslets: Animal control and inspector work, YMCA update, new restaurant

ROWLEY — Did you know that there are 73 barns in Rowley? Ipswich animal inspector Megan Sousa surely does, because until Rowley can find their own inspector, Sousa is responsible for looking over every single one of those barns.

This on top of all the dog kennels that she has to inspect in her dual role as animal control officer for both towns. And — try to imagine this — town administrator Deborah Eagan believes Sousa should be paid for these additional services.

Chairman Robert Snow said, “Debbie is requesting that the board approve setting Megan’s hourly rate for both animal inspector and animal control work at $25.23.”

According to Eagan’s written report to the board, inspection of barns includes such tasks as inspecting the structures, animal and barn cleanliness, inventory of animals, and pest infestations. Eagan estimates that the process could take up to two hours per barn and, in addition, written reports are required for each inspection.

The board approved Sousa’s hourly rate as a “short-term plan.”

In regards to a “long-term plan” for the Rowley animal inspector/control position, Snow said, “Debbie, Amy [Lydon, assistant town administrator], and the police chief, Scott Dumas, have been meeting with their counterparts in the towns of Boxford, Ipswich, and Newbury to come up with an inter-municipal agreement (IMA) for animal control and animal inspection services.”

Neither Rowley, Boxford, or Newbury currently have permanent animal control officers, Snow said. The IMA would provide animal control services to these towns from a home base in Ipswich.

Snow added, “There is a lack of qualified individuals seeking work in this field.”

A vote will not be held on the long-term plan until more information is forthcoming.

YMCA update

Ipswich Family YMCA executive director Chris Bevilacqua presented an update to the board on how partnership efforts between “the Y” and the town of Rowley have been going. He also provided updates on recent construction projects and improvements at Camp Cedar Mill.

Bevilacqua said that last summer, the Rowley camp welcomed approximately 180 kids, and by his count 100 of those campers were from Rowley. He also said that the camp employed 50 teens and young adults in the past year and that about a third of those employed were Rowley residents.

“As much as we’re serving the need to provide camp experiences, we’re also wading into the waters of providing the first job experiences for kids,” he said.

The Y offered 120 camp scholarships last summer in an effort to provide financial assistance to those who may not be able to afford camp memberships. Of those 120 scholarships, Bevilacqua said that 39 went to Rowley families.

Camp enrollment for the upcoming summer has only been open to the public for two or three weeks now, Bavilacqua said, “and we’re already at 90% enrollment. A lot of that speaks to the quality of camp we provided last year.”

In 2022, the Y invested approximately $40,000 into the Cedar Mill property, and half of that was spent on landscaping and removal of standing dead trees to ensure the safety of campers, Bevilacqua said. They also invested in a new A/C unit and heating system in one of the buildings on the property, updates to the archery course, and swimming pool renovations.

“In 2023 and beyond, we’re going to continue to work on providing that camp experience as it continues to grow and continue to collaborate and partner with the schools,” he said.

New restaurant

A new ownership group would like to open a restaurant at 255 Newbury Turnpike in Rowley. The location had previously been home to the Blue Boat restaurant, which closed in 2021 just over a year after its opening.

The New England Asian Restaurant Group, Inc., was represented at town hall on Monday night by real estate attorney Gary Sanginario. Also present was Alvin Wong, who is a principal in the ownership group and potential manager of the new restaurant, Sanginario said.

Their stated goal was to receive board approval for the transfer of the on-premises liquor license currently issued to the property.

Sanginario said, “This restaurant group is a family business, and Mr. Wong has been involved in the family business for a number of years. The family has other restaurants throughout Massachusetts.”

The ownership group owns and operates Mandarin, a chain of restaurants with locations in Reading, Milford, and Westboro. According to Wong, the Rowley restaurant would be another link in that chain. The group also own the Bamboo chain, which has four locations throughout the state.

“I can personally attest for the food — it’s excellent,” Sanginario said. “They are very experienced, and they run successful operations at other restaurants. I think you’d be very pleased, and I think it’s something that would be well received by the community.”

Answering one of several board inquiries, Sanginario said that the proposed hours of operation are 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekends. Sanginario also said that the ownership group hoped to have the restaurant open by mid-summer.

Board member Diana M.P. Ziev said of Mandarin restaurants, “I’ve heard it’s so good. I want to go.” Others agreed.

Transfer of the liquor license was unanimously approved.

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