STAMFORD, Vt. — Town Agent David Saldo and the Select Board went back-and-forth in a heated exchange over the ongoing Sidewalk Enhancement Project at Thursday's meeting.
Select Board Chairwoman Eunice Rice said the town will revisit the sidewalk project at the Town Meeting on Monday, May 14, to update residents, ask for further input and to vote on whether to move forward with the project.
"The plans have changed and it's not the same as it was at the beginning," Rice said. "It has become a lot more complicated, there's a lot of misinformation going around and things need to be clarified."
Recently, Mark Anders, the new project manager who works with the Bennington County Regional Commission, redesigned the project to include a 4-foot buffer between the road and the sidewalk for better drainage, Saldo said. These changes led to the need for easements from property owners so the project can move forward. Rice said the property owners have been reluctant to approve the easements, however.
Saldo did not agree with having another meeting. He said, according to the May 2006 feasibility report, the town held three Town Meetings on the issue, and the needed legislative bodies — the School Board, the Fire Department, and the Cemetery Committee — approved the project. Saldo said voters also approved $40,000 for a future-needs fund, a 20 percent match to the $200,000 grant.
"We had a Town Meeting where they voted it in," Saldo said. "I can't possibly understand why you're going back to revisit it. It's done."
Rice asked if the town approved a longer sidewalk, but Saldo said the town only "approved the concept" of the sidewalk running from the school to the church in part of the creating safer walkways for the children and elderly.
Although the initial plans did not include easements, Saldo said the choice for the Select Board is to either condemn the property and initiate the project or return to the state for a redesign.
"The town has already voted, you're empowered to make those decisions," he said.
However, Town Moderator William Levine said residents at previous meetings had said they were upset about giving up property and concerned about further maintenance responsibilities and costs, including equipment purchases.
"So all these things being considered, the selectmen decided to have this public meeting for consideration of whether to proceed or not, and at the meeting the legal possibility of repaying the money, and what the future expenses are, as well as what the current in-curb expenses are, will be presented to the town," Levine said. "It's their decision to put it back to the town in response to town complaints."
In other business:
Road Commissioner David Tatro said he explored a barn offered by a resident, but he said the door wasn't big enough and worried about potential property damage. The Potvin lumber yard is another potential spot, but it can't handle both salt and sand deposits, Tatro said. Select Board member Thomas Houghtaling also expressed concerns about future rent fees if the town goes ahead and tries to use private property. The possibility of the residents wanting their space back was another concern.
The Select Board will continue to examine other towns that faced similar salt shed issues and figure out how the those towns addressed it in relation to what they built, what the cost was and what procedure they followed. The Board will also look for grants.
► Lori Shepard, the town clerk and Select Board secretary, said she plans on changing her Friday hours to 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., possibly some time next month. Currently, her Friday hours are noon until 4 p.m. Shepard wanted to change the hours because some people have suggested having a day with morning hours. When the change happens, it will be posted on the website and fliers around town.
► Tatro said the Lane Bridge was in "satisfactory" condition, but will probably need attention on it within the next 10 years. The structure has no cracks, but Tatro said the deck, which is the roadway, continues to deteriorate.
► Tatro also said he added a warning barrier to a potentially dangerous spot near the soccer field behind the elementary school. He was concerned by a sudden "straight drop" in one spot from the field to the river. Tatro said the warning barrier, which cost $67, is a bright orange plastic snow fence. Tatro suggested adding spruce trees as a natural barrier and a more permanent solution. Houghtaling noted the barrier won't stop the balls, but Tatro said it would match the landscape and slow down the players, stopping them from running off the edge.
► Transfer station has reopened for Wednesday hours since April 25 and will continue until Oct. 31.
► Stamford received a Solid Waste Implementation Plan (SWIP) grant for $2,000 to help defray the $4,000 cost for a free hazardous waste day, which is scheduled for May 12.
The next Select Board meeting will take place on Thursday, May 10, at 6 p.m.