Derry to pursue pilot sanitation project Platt properties are final FEMA flood mitigation projects

Members of the public, town officials and the Londonderry Select Board. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

By Bruce Frauman
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Londonderry Select Board on Monday night approved a proposal from Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman to write a letter of interest to the Rich Earth Institute and the Windham Regional Commission to be chosen for a Village Sanitation Pilot Project.

The Select Board has been considering participating in such a project for the past two months.

If chosen, landowners will be asked to voluntarily participate in a survey about their septic and water supply systems. If further funding is available, solutions that would separate urine from the wastewater stream could be offered. One town in the Windham region will be selected for the initial study. Board chair Jim Ameden said he did not want a vote on the actual wording of the letter because two board members were absent.

Kevin Beattie speaks to the flood mitigation process and the Platt properties.

Three flood mitigations projects remain

Town Administrator Robert Nied said there are three flood mitigation projects still active from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and all are for buildings owned by Tom Platt, who with his wife Judy own the Garden Market restaurant and cafe complex on Route 100/Main Street. Two involve flood walls and membranes and the third would elevate the former Post Office.

Nied said all have been approved by FEMA and all  require Londonderry to process the application, disperse the funds and oversee the projects. FEMA pays 75 percent of the project cost and the property owner pays 25 percent.

Nied said the total construction costs for the three projects is almost $500,000.

Nied and board member George Mora met with representatives from the Windham Regional Commission and the state to get an update on the status of the projects. And both expressed concern that the town could be hit with expenses if the property owner is unable to pay his portion. It was suggested the town come to a memorandum of understanding with Platt that his 25 percent would be placed in escrow.

Board member George Mora, left, and Town Administrator Robert Nied.

Nied said the next step is to negotiate with Platt to see if this was possible. After that, Nied would like to hire a project manager to oversee the projects, paid through the grant.

Ameden said the original agreement with Platt was that “not one dime” of taxpayer money would be spent on the projects. Former town administrator Kevin Beattie said the original grant had a very detailed budget and specified conditions for reimbursement.

Crossman said the most simple project, that of elevating the former Post Office, is still very complex and requires some engineering work. Nied said it has not received approval from the Development Review Board because an engineer is waiting for money for his certification efforts and Platt says the town should pay. Nied said this may be the only way for the project to continue. Ameden asked that no money be spent until the town can be assured of reimbursement. Nied said as negotiations develop, he will come back to the Select Board at every step so they can evaluate any risks together.

In other action

  • The board donated two vehicles abandoned at the Frog’s Leap Inn property to the Londonderry Rescue Squad.  Beattie said the technical unit uses two or three cars a year for training. The vehicles are currently parked at the Transfer Station.
  • Traffic Safety Committee chair Dick Dale was granted permission to publicize an email address, trafficsafety@londonderryvt.org, to which residents can comment on the condition, speed and signage of the roads they live on or frequently drive.
  • Kelly Capen told the board that two years ago an incorrect 911 address nearly killed her son, who was in a diabetic shock. The rescue squad passed her house three times before finding it through another method than the 911 address. Her address has since been corrected.  Mora asked if there is a mechanism for a resident to verify their 911 address. Treasurer Tina Labeau said there is a 911 map in the office that residents can compare to their posted street address.
  • Jim Twitchell was appointed to be the town’s 911 Coordinator and Fire Warden until Town Meeting 2019.
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