Water system upgrade, Edson monument placement addressed at Chester Select Board meeting

By Shawn Cunningham
©2015-Telegraph Publishing LLC

At its Feb. 18 meeting, the Chester Select Board heard a project update and information on funding alternatives for Chester’s water upgrade, considered a request to place the new Edson monument in an alternate site on the Green and got a report on traffic ticket income from Police Chief Rick Cloud.

Naomi Johnson, of the engineering company Dufresne Group, told the board that the reports required by Vermont’s Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund and USDA Rural Development have been submitted and finalized. The two agencies are the funding sources for the $4 million project. The water upgrade would correct a number of deficiencies in the ability of the town to fight fires and keep water flowing. It would replace mains in the system and add a new 500,000 gallon water tank on the south end of town, which would bring some redundancy to the system that currently has one tank near the reservoir.

Eric Law, right, listens as Naomi Johnson talks about the water plan. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Eric Law of the Agency of Natural Resources, right, listens as Naomi Johnson talks about the water plan. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Describing himself as the “face of the loan,” Eric Law, of the Agency of Natural Resources drinking water program, said that Chester moved up the priority list of fundable projects because several others were not ready to go. He called the  Chester plan ready to “bring before the voters.” At the same time, he outlined one portion of the plan that could be a cause of funding problems.

“You have the right to build a tank that big for fire flow,” said Law, “It’s permitable, but funding it is a different story.” Law noted that the USDA loan program allows for modest, reasonable increases in fire flow but that the state loans do not use fire flow as a primary reason for constructing a tank.

The difference between the two programs, according to Law, is that the USDA will fund what it considers a reasonable amount of water storage, but if the town wants more the deal is off. “Either agree to their size tank, or they won’t fund it,” said Law.  The state, however, will cover the portion of the tank that can be considered as a necessary addition for drinking water and that the town could add to that with other funding.  “You should be able to cover minimum fire flow, plus average day demand for the system, and a reasonable growth for the life of the asset,” said Law. “That’s generally what we can fund. This is a hot topic right now in more towns than just Chester.”

Historical Society asks to place obelisk across from Free Range Restaurant

Chester Historical Society President Ron Patch briefed the board on the progress of planning “Merritt Edson Day” in Chester on Saturday Aug. 15. The plan includes a parade, speeches and a baseball game. Patch requested the use of Cobleigh Field for the game and permission to hold the parade as well as the speeches on the Green.

Edson was born in Rutland but grew up in Chester and graduated from Chester High School in 1915. He was a hero of Guadalcanal during World War II.

Ron Patch would like to place a 7-foot-tall monument in the Green across from the Free Range Restaurant.

Ron Patch would like to place a 7-foot-tall monumenton the Green across from the Free Range Restaurant.

Showing a photo of Edson speaking in front of the building that was then the Chester American Legion in 1946, Patch asked that rather than putting the 7-foot-tall, four-sided obelisk at the south end of the Green, that it be located in front of the building that is now the Free Range restaurant.

Board member Derek Suursoo asked whether the board was going to consider that there have been some public objections to putting the monument on the Green in the first place before they make a decision to move it.

Chairman John DeBenedetti said that the monument has already been approved and that there are already military monuments on the Green.

Board member Bill Lindsay said that the project has already been approved and that there has been plenty of information before the public. “I don’t see any lack of support and I’ve been hearing how we have to have something going on to make Chester attractive to visitors, I have no problem with this at all.”

“Tourists spend a lot of time looking at the monuments,” said Patch, “I think it’s a plus for the town, I really do.”

Suursoo moved that the board authorize the use of Cobleigh Field and placement of the monument on the south end of the Green. Patch asked if Suursoo meant the south end of the Green or the site he was proposing. Suursoo said he had left it vague. “I have a definitive location,” said Patch but Suursoo said he was leaving it vague until the town could have a look at the site to see if there would be any problems – such as interfering with buried cable – caused by putting the monument there. The motion passed unanimously.

Cloud addresses speeding ticket revenue

Police Chief Rick Cloud appeared before the board following a request from Lindsay at the Feb. 4 meeting to update the board on the income from of issuing traffic tickets. “Are we losing money,” asked Lindsay “or are we collecting those revenues?” At Wednesday’s meeting however, Lindsay said that his motivation in requesting the update stemmed from a Vermont League of Cities and Towns report that said that the state was not releasing fine revenues in a timely manner. “I can’t say if that’s true or not,” said Lindsay asking how many tickets were written and what was the revenue for the town.

“It looks like they are pretty current,” said Cloud, “pretty much up-to-date.”

“Are we getting our fair share?” asked Lindsay.

“We are getting what we are supposed to be getting,” replied Cloud, noting that having another officer has meant being able to be out more at night. Last year, according to Cloud, there were three DUI arrests while there have been “five or six, just for January and February.”

In other action, the memorandum of understanding with the Town of Andover regarding the charges for fire protection was passed along with the new Fire Department personnel policies and Suursoo, who is the town’s representative to the solid waste district, outlined the changes that Act 148 will make in the disposal of trash over the next few years.

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