By Cynthia Prairie
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC
The Grafton Select Board voted 4 to 1 on Monday to move its meetings to the new town garage on Tom Bell Road, more than 2 miles east of the center of town. The meetings are currently held in the gym/cafeteria at the Grafton Elementary School, 58 School St.
Just when the change will take place will depend on when new flooring gets laid over the concrete. Board member Stan Mack said he would like to see carpeting tiles to “help the quality of the sound.” The tiles, he added could also be replaced singly should one get stained or damaged.
Mack said the benefits of the new building are that it has a meeting room, which is set up for the emergency management crew, with tables and chairs. It can hold about 40 people. There are phone lines, a conference phone, an overhead projector, Wi-Fi and parking, he said, adding that the “ultimate goal is to put the meeting back in Town Hall.”
The Grafton Town Hall, on Main Street, is on the second floor of the building and is not handicapped accessible and the town is beginning on plans for a major upgrade.
Mack added that he also “felt bad” about the wear and tear on the wood gymnasium flooring at the school. School maintenance personnel sets up for the meetings, while attendees break down following it.
Contacted on Tuesday, school Superintendent Chris Kibbe said, “Periodically you have to redo wooden floors.” But, he added, he was not aware of any particular problem with the Grafton Elementary floor.
Select Board member Cynthia Gibbs registered the one no vote.
In other action:
- As for work on Town Hall, board chair Joe Pollio said that the roof had been replaced about six years ago, “but not well, and without a warranty. So the board is going to have someone do an assessment.” Mack added that the building is in “much worse shape than it looks.” Town administrator Emily Huff will be looking into grant programs to help defray the cost of a full assessment of the building, including windows, electrical and historic preservation as the board begins the process of restoring the building.
- Pollio also questioned the money that was being spent on the Sheriff’s Department patrols. Former board chair Sam Battaglino said that “a rash of robberies and a series of reports of speeding as well as accidents” spurred the board to act. Treasurer Kim Record said that with the number of tickets that the Sheriff generates, Grafton gets money back — about $1,000 last year. Since voters approved the expenditure with the current budget, Pollio said the board will revisit it for the next fiscal year.
- Board members also discussed the fire hydrant system in the town. According to Pollio, in 1999 the town took over the hydrants from the Windham Foundation, which gave the town $35,000 for maintenance and repairs, including keeping them clear of snow and debris. About $25,000 is left in the fund because it was placed in a long-term CD and was not used. Instead the town used its own funds, Gibbs said, about $9,000 to $16,000 a year. The hydrants — some of them simple dry hydrants that hook into a pond — are used for filling fire tankers for firefighting.
- Asked why public comment was moved to the end of the agenda, Mack said it was not to stifle discussion but to have people come for the whole meeting rather than leaving after saying their piece.
- And finally, the town intends to hold a special Town Meeting at 6 p.m. on May 24 to discuss a pending vote for using the town surplus to buy a tractor. Plans for that meeting will be finalized when the board meets on April 17.
About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.