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BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Angela Sanborn, Katy Johnson-Aplin, Jeffrey Chevalier, and Ann Golob. Phone: Mike Fitzpatrick
OTHERS PRESENT: Jay Wilson Road Foreman (Zoom), Wannetta Powling (Administrative Assistant), Carol Hesselbach, Jane Douglas, Galen Robinson (BCTV).
CALL TO ORDER:
The meeting was called to order at 6:02 pm by Selectboard Chair Angela Sanborn.
CONFIRM PROPERLY WARNED:
Powling confirmed the meeting had been properly warned.
ADDITIONS/AMENDMENTS TO THE AGENDA
Aplin-Johnson requested that we add a discussion of making childcare available at the Town Meeting. Added to Old Business.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
February 6, 2023, Regular Meeting
Motion to approve: Fitzpatrick; seconded: Chevalier.
February 13, 2023, Special Meeting
Motion to approve: Johnson-Aplin; seconded: Chevalier.
Approved 4/0/1 Abstention.
ROAD FOREMAN’S & ROAD COMMISSIONER’S REPORT
- The work we put out to bid on South Wardsboro Road along the brook has been completed.
- I met with Ron Bell the engineer for the salt shed and he is trying some different options for the building to see if he can bring the costs down.
- Have you given any more thought about whether to bid the Depot Road box culvert or to wait?
- The carpenters for the town office are planning on the week after town meeting to start work. They will be coming in next week to go over the work.
- I have attached the weight limit letter for mud season; it needs to be filed with the Selectboard and posted in two places.
- I have attached the VTRANS mileage certificate to be signed by the Selectboard.
Had hoped to have an update on the gravel pit; waiting to hear from Bill Jewell.
Discussion of bidding oil purchases: suggested looking to put it out to bid in early summer to see if anyone bids on it. Wilson agreed that
Motion to accept Road Foreman’s report: Fitzpatrick; seconded: Golob.
Discussion of the Depot Road box culvert: Fitzpatrick recommended moving forward and putting it out to bid. Wilson pointed out that pricing has gone up significantly recently; seems to be dependent on the availability of the contractors. We have $200,000 put aside for the project; VTrans projects it will cost $284,000. If we put it out to bid, we have to be prepared to pay up to the VTrans estimate if it is a valid proposal. If it goes over $284,000, we are not required to accept the bid. Therefore, our shortfall could be at most $84,000.
Motion to put it out to bid: Fitzpatrick; seconded: Golob.
Weight limit for mud season: Motion to approve posting weight limit for mud season: Golob; seconded: Johnson-Aplin.
Motion to sign VTrans mileage certificate: Fitzpatrick; seconded: Golob.
Vote to accept the Road Foreman’s report: 5/0.
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT’S REPORT
1. With talk of Newfane Celebrating its 250 years, I would like to make a recommendation to the Selectboard that we find a contractor that can give the Town Office some much-needed attention. For pride and safety issues, there is paint peeling on the front of the building and around all of the windows. There is a concern for the integrity of the two pillars on the front of the building.
2. The 2022 Town Report was delivered here to the Town Office today. Does the Selectboard have any concerns or suggestions for distributing the Town Report?
3. The Planning Commission Public Hearing for the Proposed By-Law changes to the Flood Plain River Corridor that was scheduled for Thursday, February 23rd has been postponed. The new date still needs to be determined.
4. Cindy Lawley from Brookline has expressed interest in the Town Office cleaning position. She would only be able to do it after hours or on weekends at $35 per hour.
I have spoken with the others in the office, and they only ask that it be on a scheduled day; they would secure sensitive information if needed.
Vote to accept: Fitzpatrick; seconded – Johnson-Aplin.
Distribution of the report: concerns regarding mailing the report because there have been issues with the delivery. Agreement that the report will be mailed out as per usual. The report will also be available on the website. There will be a few additional copies available at the town office. Requested that the Administrative Assistant post it on Front Porch Forum.
Discussion of the Town Office renovations: There is funding still available in our budget to cover additional costs. Agreement to put out to bid the work on the two pillars and the painting. Will meet with contractors about the internal renovations and depending on the cost of the renovation of the two pillars, they may be able to add it to their existing contract. If it is higher than our limit, will issue a new bid.
Discussion regarding hiring Cindy Lawley for cleaning: Decision to go ahead and hire Lawley to clean every other week. Recommended avoiding weekday nights because the office is often used in the evening for committee meetings. Administrative Assistant will follow-up with Lawley; move forward for a three-month trial period. Fitzpatrick recommended Saturday during the day rather than the evening.
Discussion regarding driver who hit a pot hole on Adams Hill Road and is requesting that the town cover his $500 deductible for the repairs. The Board agreed that while we regret the damage, we cannot be held responsible and cannot cover his deductible. Asked Administrative Assistant to contact the driver and let him know our decision.
Vote to accept the Administrative Assistant’s report: 5/0.
Jane Douglas from the Planning Commission noted that they were sorry that the Thursday meeting on the Hearing for the Proposed By-Law changes to the Flood Plain River Corridor but it was beyond their control.
SCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC: None.
UNSCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC: None.
OLD BUSINESS / FOLLOW-UP ITEMS
- Cannabis Updates: (Johnson-Aplin)
DRB meeting of the former Ken’s Restaurant where the new owners want to open a dispensary was held but it ran into a problem because the land used for the parking lot is owned by the home behind the store. There will be another meeting on March 1 to continue the DRB hearing.
- Town Beautification suggestions (Chevalier)
First draft of the plan to create six benches in each of the villages and in the town forest has been written. A few other people are reviewing the plan and then it will be ready for the Selectboard to review. To pay for this, recommending spending a total of $15,000 from our ARPA funds. Goal is to create an outdoor space where people can come together and be more a part of our town.
Looked into whether we can use the empty town-owned properties on Dover Road for a community garden. We can; there are some restrictions on what can be built on the property but they are fairly flexible as long as we are not building permanent structures. Also discussed the two properties down the street that are on the river and owned by the town. Johnson-Aplin suggested that something could also be done with these properties as well. There are some beautiful plantings on this site.
- Discuss ideas for a 250-year celebration of Newfane’s founding. (Johnson-Aplin)
No updates at this time. Suggestion that Johnson-Aplin work with Newfane Anew to discuss it further. Agreed that they will meet in the near future.
- FEMA buyout of South Newfane General Store (Golob)
No news yet from FEMA. We had a meeting to discuss the possibility of removal of the oil tanks at the site but the critical person was missing from the call so it has been rescheduled for early April. As soon as that meeting takes place, more updates will be available.
- ARPA Funds Updates (Golob)
Update regarding business loans/grants: Golob discussed the research that she did last year with Sanborn on how other towns handle grants/loans to businesses. Golob summarized her concern with making a grant to one business owner: we would be making a grant to a local business, something the town has not done before and does not have a process in place to evaluate applications. Nor is it an idea that has been communicated to other businesses as an option that they can apply for too.
There are several other options being followed by other towns. They include:
In Wilmington, Brattleboro, Dover and Rockingham they have each established a revolving loan fund. Some pay for it with their 1% sales tax. In each case the town has a clear process to award the loans, determine the interest rate and repayment period.
A second option is creating a business plan competition – this has been done by the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. (BDCC) and by Dover.
A third is for individuals in a town to create their own private fund to assist businesses. This was done in Wilmington after Irene to assist those businesses that were badly affected.
A fourth option is to work with BDCC and consider other options by partnering with them. They recently hired Meg Staloff to run their South Vermont Economy Project.
After reviewing these options, Golob and Sanborn’s recommendation is to consider creating a revolving fund. There is still much we have to learn about how other towns do it but if there is support from the Selectboard, Golob volunteered to continue looking into it with the caveat that she will not have time for at least a month or two. There was agreement that the Selectboard should continue to look into this and come back with more information from this research.
Fitzpatrick mentioned that in Wardsboro they make loans to homeowners who might need help with let’s say the renovation of a septic system. Fitzpatrick agreed to gather more information and share it with Golob to add to her report.
Golob also mentioned that she is looking into seeing if we can get a grant to look at sewer coverage for South Newfane, Williamsville and Newfane. There are many new technologies that do not involve highly expensive sewers to be installed but rather allow smaller, more contained systems.
- Town Meeting – making childcare available for Town Meeting (Johnson-Aplin)
Agreed that Johnson-Aplin will reach out to Deb Luskin to see how she handled it in previous years.
- Meeting held at the Sheriff’s Office.
There was no specific proposal at the February 9th meeting about the Windham County Regional Policing. After Town Meeting, Johnson-Aplin suggested that we may want to talk to other neighboring towns to see if they would want to consider some kind of regional approach – perhaps discussing it with Townshend and Brookline.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
Letter from Bobbie Ragouzeos, President of the Board of Trustees of the Moore Free Library and Crowell Gallery requesting $10,100 of ARPA funds to help them cover the cost of updating and maintaining the building: insulation, painting, repair of the front porch. While the estimates from these three bids exceeds $10,100, the Library has funds available in their budget to cover the additional amount.
Golob made a motion to pay $10,100 from our ARPA funds for the Library renovations; seconded by Chevalier. Approved 5/0. Administrative Assistant asked to let Bobbie Ragouzeos know the decision as well as the Treasurer.
Golob made a motion to go into Executive Session to discuss a disciplinary or dismissal action against a public officer or employee under the provisions of Title 1, Section 313, Subsection (a)(4) of the Vermont Statutes, seconded by Johnson-Aplin. Vote approved: 5/0.
Went into Executive Session at 7:19pm.
The Board came out of Executive Session at 7:54pm. Motion to come out of Executive Session made by Golob, seconded by Chevalier. The decision was to go ahead and move forward.
Meeting adjourned at 8:17pm. Motion by Golob to adjourn.
Ann Golob, Vice Chair