Cavendish Select Board Meeting 9/14/15

Select board (SB) meetings are recorded by LPC-TV and are available at their website and on Comcast Television.  Written minutes are available at the town’s website.  Monday night’s meeting included:

1. Depot Street Bridge: Rob Young from the state’s Accelerated Bridge Program was on hand to discuss an additional option for the Depot Street Bridge (#58)-close the bridge and just have a one-lane pedestrian/bike bridge. The SB was not interested in this option, affirming the letter sent to the state several months ago requesting an accelerated bridge replacement that would reduce the width of the bridge, plus reduce the bike/pedestrian from two to one. The cost to the town is estimated to be $134,750.

Recently the town received a “bad bridge” letter from the state. The bridge is in such poor shape that it will be closed this fall to all vehicular traffic as it is unsafe and cannot support the weight of the snow removal trucks. Town manager, Rich Svec, said the bridge will remain closed until it is replaced, which will be in 2018. However, with engineering studies, it may be possible to reduce the bridge to one lane with a weight restriction and lights. The center support structure repair, which is the primary concern, would cost the town an estimated $90,000. However, this would be removed when the new bridge is built. The board questioned whether it would make sense to spend this type of money, only to have it removed two years later.

There is concern that with the closure of Depot Street bridge there will be more traffic at the 103/131 intersection, which is problematic due to the proximity of the railroad crossing and the entrance to the Castle Hill Resort and Spa. In the past there has been discussion aboutputting blinking lights at this intersection. Given the duration of the closure-potentially 2-3 years, this needs to be addressed sooner than later.

 2. Solar Farm: Ranger Solar would like to build six solar facilities in Vermont, one of which would be near the Coolidge Substation-the old Barker Farm, located on Barker Rd in Ludlow-but would be running lines through Cavendish to connect to the substation. The company had said they would send plans to the town manager but neglected to do so. The board agreed to review the plans and then decide whether they would like a representative to attend a meeting.

An article in the Sept. 11 Time Argus and Rutland Herald reported on Ranger Solar’s presentation to the Ludlow Select Board. This would be 20-megawatt solar facility to be located on 125 acres. Green Mountain Power said the utility was not interested in buying any additional solar power.

3. FEMA Close Outs: Davis Rd Bridge is now complete. The paper work is being filed to close out the town’s FEMA projects relating to Irene and a request for an extension has been made for two bridge projects-Meadowbrook Rd off Twenty Mile Stream and Bridge #22 on East Rd. There is no word yet whether FEMA will grant the extension.

4. Skate Park at Greven Field: The Flood Plan Manager for the region visited Greven Field to review the site along with the proposed plans for the skate park. He thought the plans were sufficient and agreed that hinged apparatus, that could quickly be removed in the event of a flood warning or would allow the water to flow through, would be sufficient. No date on when construction will begin on the skate park.

5. Cemetery Update: Asst. Town Manager Bruce McEnaney gave an update on the progress being made in the Cavendish Cemeteries as well as the cost comparisons between 2014 and 2015. From May-Sept 2014, $11,927.42 was spent on gasoline ($1,028.92) and personnel ($10,898.50) as compared to the same time period in 2015 where $8,449.37 was expended with $554.37 for gasoline and $7,905 for cemetery workers. There has been an overall reduction in spending of $3,478 or a 29% savings.  In addition, burial fees ($100), which in the past went to the sexton, now go to the town. There have been nine burials so far this year, with five more slated in the next few weeks.

In the Cavendish Village Cemetery, there are 180 stones with orange mold. Volunteers from the Cavendish Historical Society (Kem and Svetlana Phillips) have been cleaning the stones in order to prevent the spread to other grave markers. Other volunteer work includes Hollis Quinn righting stones in the Cavendish Center Road Cemetery.

6. Telecommunications Committee: A committee has been established to address the significant problems the town is having with connectivity. Members include: Margo Caulfield, Katie Hamlin, Ignat Solzhenitsyn and Rich Svec. Now that VTel has not proven to be the solution many in town were looking for, the committee will be meeting with Comcast to explore options for expanded service.  SB member Wendy Regier noted that they had recently had a problem with Comcast and had to go to Springfield to talk to someone. They were informed that they don’t answer their phones. Since Comcast is up for a Certificate of Public Good (CPG), which is required to operate in the state, this will be brought to their attention at both the Committee’s meeting on Sept. 22 as well as at the Windsor County CPG hearing of the same date. It was also noted that TDS is raising fees by $5 a month for high-speed Internet users starting in October. TDS’s “turbo speed plan” is at 15 Mbp as compared to Comcast’s starting speeds of 25 Mbps. Even though a TDS representative attended a SB meeting, they have not responded to any inquiries since then.

7. Assistant Water Operator Position: The town will be hiring a full time assistant water operator. While experience and certification is desirable, it is not required.

8. Dog Bite: On Sunday evening,  a 21 year old was bitten at the Meadowbrook Camp Ground by a dog that normally lives in the Knapp Pond area. The injury was severe enough to require hospitalization overnight. Given the age of the dog, 12 years old, and past biting behavior, the dog will be euthanized after a 10 day waiting period, which is required to determine if the dog has rabies. The dog is quarantined to the owner’s home and can only be in the yard on a leash.

9. Items not Discussed from Agenda: The representative from VTrans did not show to discuss the Green Mountain Railroad trestle project on the Cavendish Gulf Road. The Transfer Station fee discussion was postponed since new rates can be better assessed after the town has the new contract from Casella, which takes place in October.