Wylie to fill Ameden select board seat in Londonderry

By Bruce Frauman
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Londonderry Select Board clockwise from left, Steve Prouty, Wayne Blanchard, Bill Wylie, Road Superintendent Duane Hart, Paul Gordon and Kevin Beattie taking minutes

Londonderry Select Board clockwise from left, Steve Prouty, Wayne Blanchard, Bill Wylie, Road Superintendent Duane Hart, Paul Gordon and Kevin Beattie taking minutes

With new member Will Reed participating by phone from vacation, the Londonderry Select Board voted to appoint Bill Wylie, a South Londonderry resident, as interim Select Board member to fill the seat of former board chair Jim Ameden until March 2017.

The only other candidate was former Board member Cathy Aragi, who did not attend the meeting. Aragi received one vote to Wylie’s three. Ameden resigned in May for personal reasons. Wylie participated in the meeting, but could not vote until he was sworn in.

State Rep. Oliver Olsen gave the Select Board a briefing on two situations. According to Olsen, more than 10,000 people and 3,000 cars would be descending on the national forest in Mount Tabor for the annual Rainbow Family Gathering.

The maximum number of people will be there on the Fourth of July, then taper off. Olsen said he participated in “a conference call with the Department of Public Safety and the governor’s office to get an understanding of what the state and federal governments are doing to prepare for this.” He said he learned that the Forest Service has “primary jurisdiction as to what’s happening in the national forest.” The Forest Service has contracted with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department to set up an incident command post and handle any law enforcement issues within the national forest.

“Outside the national forest, it will business as usual with the state police, Manchester, Winhall, police as appropriate,” Olsen continued. He said that state transit officials are directing people to take Route 7, but one can also take Forest Mountain Road 10 through Londonderry and Landgrove.

He added that he heard that someone was panhandling for gas money in Londonderry, and “people should be prepared for everything from public nudity to public urination and everything in between … They don’t expect any serious law enforcement issues … it was very clear (that) the State Police, the Forest Service, the Rutland Sheriff’s Department … they are pretty well prepared for it. ”

Olsen also spoke about the poor condition of Route 11. “Route 11 is scheduled for a pretty major re-treatment, not just a skim coat . . . for 2019,” Olsen said noting that there is an objective process for scheduling repaving state roads by the Agency of Transportation.  Input from each of the regional planning commissions is part of that process, so Olsen is asking the executive directors of  the Windham Regional Commission and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission “to move this up the regional priority list.”

According to the AOT’s Mark Pickering, some of the “really bad spots … will get done of this summer.” Board member Paul Gordon said he was disappointed that AOT promises to do the full repaving this summer will be broken.

Dwight Johnson, an attorney from Hartford, Conn. who has owned a house in Londonderry for more than a decade and now lives here full time, was appointed to the Development Review Board. Johnson said he has “90 percent” wound down his practice and is expected to be 100 percent done by the end of the year.  “I noticed from the way you do business, that it is different from the way we do it in most of the towns of Connecticut, but I can learn,” said Johnson.

“We try to be as casual and, I guess, as Vermontish … as possible,” said board member Steve Prouty. “That’s why we like it here,” said Johnson.

The board also discussed the two bids for a new dump truck body. The truck cab and frame are already being built. Viking was the low bidder by about $9,000, and also specified an air­ over­ hydraulics system to operate the plow and wing. Fairfield would have used cables. Gordon moved to accept the bid from Viking at $68,200 “with the understanding that we come to an satisfactory agreement on delivery and penalty clause.” Road Foreman Duane Hart requested that the town attorney handle the negotiation.

An access permit for a new home on Parson’s Lane was not on the agenda, but the fate of six trees on either side of the proposed driveway became a major topic of discussion.  Duane Hart said he believed that “on both sides of the driveway, trees need to be cut in order to get some sight-distance there.” He said one sugar maple looks good from one side of the road, but it is actually rotten when you look on the other side. Another is scarred from being hit by the town plow wing several times.

According to a DOT chart, a sight line 200 feet in each direction from the drive is required. Residents there objected to cutting some of the trees. The board will take this up again at the next meeting.

The board agreed that the FEMA buyout properties should be mowed once or twice a year and maintained as fields. The town has budgeted $5,000 a year for the road crew to mow and maintain all  town parks. The new property adjacent to Williams Park has higher visibility and Gordon offered to tamp down or remove the netting that is now there on top of the compost to allow for mowing. Prouty offered to provide some topsoil.

Kevin Beattie contacted town lawyer Bob Fisher about the lack of response from Eckman Engineering regarding its negotiations with the DOT about the flood wall on the Genser property.

As a FEMA buyout site, all structures on the property must be removed, but the Agency  of Transportation has an easement for the wall to be there to protect against flooding. Eckman Engineering studied this and has not responded to requests for information from the town or VTrans. Fisher is proposing a face-­to-face meeting with the engineering firm.

Finally, FEMA asked Beattie if the agency could still use the town office building as a Disaster Recovery Center in case of another event like Tropical Storm Irene. The board agreed, voting unanimously with the hope that its proximity would give the town more attention than it got after Irene, when FEMA was based in Brattleboro.

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