VTrans proposed fix for tight Main St.-Maple St. turn

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2015 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

A proposed reconfiguration of the corner of Maple and Main Streets in Chester

A proposed reconfiguration of the corner of Maple and Main streets in Chester. Click to enlarge.

Ryan Darling of VTrans has approached the town of Chester with the idea of fixing the corner of Maple and Main streets where trucks have difficulty turning to go north on Route 103, Town Manager David Pisha told the Chester Select Board at its Wednesday, Aug. 19 meeting.

According to Pisha, Darling said there have been complaints about the corner and that the state would work on a remediation plan, but the town and the owner of the house on the northeast corner of the intersection would need to get behind the plan.

Pisha said that he had met with Darling, road superintendent Graham Kennedy and the property owner and that the owner is open to fixing the corner. Pisha added that the property owner welcomes the opportunity see a plan drawn up by Dufresne Group engineer Naomi Johnson. That plan would narrow the southbound lane and round the northeast corner. The board gave Pisha the go ahead to pursue the work.

Poor voter turnout addressed in water project chat

As expected, the Chester Select Board signed the warning for a second vote on the water system upgrade project , said “maybe, maybe not” to a proposed Vietnam Veterans coin drop on Main Street and heard updates on economic development issues from Bob Flint of Springfield Regional Development Corp.

While the board’s decision to re-vote the $4 million water project to put a second water tank on the hill behind the Drew’s All-Natural plant off Route 103 South and replace a crumbling water main along that roadway was a foregone conclusion, the discussion of it turned on getting more voters to the polls. One-hundred ninety-eight voters turned out for the first vote on May 19, and that number went down to 143 for the ratification vote that was made necessary by an error in the number of public notices published before the vote. The voter checklist for Chester contains about 2,200 names and there are 572 residential water accounts.

“We should make sure we get more people out to vote,” said board member Arne Jonynas. “For or against, it doesn’t matter, we need a bigger pool. This is really important to the town.”

Board member Heather Chase suggested putting a banner across Main Street near Zachary’s Pizza House and suggested that generic yard signs saying Vote Tuesday be put out around town.

Chester resident Tom Hildreth asked if information on the vote is available on the town website. Pisha replied that it could be added soon.

Frank Bidwell asked the board about early and absentee voting. Julie Hance, assistant to the town manager, replied that ballots would be available as soon as the vote is warned and ballots printed.

Bob Flint of Springfield Regional Development Corp. updates the town on business growth.

Bob Flint of Springfield Regional Development Corp. updates the town on business growth. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

Bob Flint, executive director of Springfield Regional Development Corp., briefed the board on economic initiatives in the area noting that his report was mostly good news. Flint did point to work force challenges as a problem. In a brief interview with The Telegraph on Monday Aug. 24, Flint said that the “lack of work force is the biggest threat to our local economy now.”

Flint said that Drew’s All-Natural, which is now on a second shift with its expansion plans on track. He noted that SRDC has helped the company fix waste-water problems it has had. The plant installed equipment to treat water before it goes to the municipal plant.

Flint added that since Vermont is in the process of a federal audit of HUD funds usage, the block grants that fund flood repair have been slowed. There are five grants in Chester, according to Flint with three nearly ready to be disbursed and two — the Green Mountain Softball League softball field and Chester Rod and Gun Club — are challenging. Flint told the board that these five grants amount to $159,000.

Flint also said that the move by J&L Metrology to the old armory on Route 11 West has been slowed for a good reason: It has been more complicated and slower than expected because J&L has been busy. Flint said that the business is on track to be moved in by the end of the year.

Flint also told the board that Windsor had struggled with marketing its downtown just as Chester has been trying to attract visitors to the Green. After working for a year and a half on a town marketing plan that included attracting residents, new businesses and tourists, the Windsor Improvement Corp. is moving forward with the plan. WIC is a private, volunteer development corporation that receives $70,000 per year from the Town of Windsor. That appropriation covers the town’s contribution to SRDC, a downtown manager and marketing programs.

Earlier this year, Windsor conducted a Google advertising program on a cooperative basis with the state’s tourism office. The program targets higher-income internet users (who could be potential visitors) in Hartford, Conn., New York City, Springfield, Mass., and the Boston area. The ads for Windsor click through to a Windsor page on the state tourism website and the town and state each contributed $5,000 to the effort.

The “Google contextual media campaign,” which began in May, was seen by 1.7 million people and clicked by about 6,000, Flint said. The town and state stopped the program in July to save some of the allotted money for foliage season.

Hildreth asked if there were any statistics that showed how many people are going to the new Chester town website and if there was any feedback.

Pisha said that the person maintaining the new website wanted to transition away from it and so town staff is now in training to take over the site. Hance told Hildreth that there is a tool for keeping track of contacts on the site, but they do not know how to use it yet.

Chase asked how long the cooperative advertising money would be available from the state. Flint said there was no deadline and if the town came up with advertising funds, the state tourism office would probably match them.

Answer to Veterans coin drop request delayed again

Ron Farrar of the Vietnam Veterans of America returned with Larry Semones to ask permission to conduct a coin drop on Main Street by the Country Girl Diner from 9 .m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18.

Ron Farrar addresses the board to advocate for a coin drop in Chester for Vietnam War veterans. Larry Semones is next to him.

Ron Farrar addresses the board to advocate for a coin drop in Chester for Vietnam War veterans. Larry Semones is next to him.

Such coin drops raise money to help veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, he said, and had been taking place three days a year on Route 103 South near Green Mountain Union High. But, but when the group filled out the application with VTrans this year, it was returned noting that the maximum speed limit on roads where coin drops can be conducted is 35 mph, while the speed limit there is 40 mph.

At the previous meeting, board members were told that a 2004 select board had voted to ban such fundraising from town streets. The current board had asked that the veterans come back after members had a chance to look at the minutes from that meeting.

Board member Bill Lindsay noted that the 2004 action was precipitated by the then owner of the Country Girl Diner. “That owner is no longer there, that takes care of part of the problem,” said Lindsay, who suggested that the drops could be approved by the board on a case-by-case basis.

“I’m reluctant to change something enacted more than 10 years ago,” said Jonynas. “I don’t see how you can do it on a case-by-case basis.”

Board member Tom Bock agreed, “I’m reluctant to do this.”

Select Board chair John DeBenedetti suggested that a change in speed limits on Route 103 could help slow traffic as it enters from the east and make it possible for the veterans to continue their coin drops.

Chase asked Farrar if VTrans had said no definitively. He said they had not and the board suggested that he pursue an approval from the state, while the town would look into lowering the speed limit near the high school.

The board put the veterans on the Sept. 2 agenda.


Chester Historical Society President Ronald Patch thanked the Select Board for its support for and appearing at the dedication of the Merritt Edson monument on the previous weekend. Patch said the day went off without a hitch and was well-received. Patch told the board that an email he received likened the day to a scene from an old Warner Bros. patriotic movie. DeBenedetti thanked Patch for the years of work preparing for the event.

In response to a question about who would pay for police overtime incurred for the parade held on the previous weekend, the board said that it would be treated like a “town event” like several long traditional public occasions. “I’ve been thinking about this,” said DeBenedetti. “We don’t charge the American Legion (for the Memorial Day parade) or the alumni association or the sale on the Green (the Chester Fall Festival).”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: ChesterFeaturedLatest News

About the Author:

RSSComments (1)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Claudio says:

    Why no curb buffer? Even a 2-footer would contribute to safety. Otherwise it’s placing toddlers next to turning 18-wheelers. Just a suggestion.