Weston board ponders Little School parking, well requests, tables other issues

Clockwise from lower left, Denis Benson, Cheryl Barker, Charles Goodwin, Annie Fuji'i, Jim Linville and Bruce Downer

Clockwise from lower left, Denis Benson, Cheryl Barker, Charles Goodwin, Annie Fuji’i, Jim Linville and Bruce Downer

By Bruce Frauman
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

More issues were tabled than decided at the July 26 Weston Select Board meeting including choosing among bidders for a new furnace at the Town Office building, a supplier for heating oil and securing an expert opinion to how close to a wellhead pavement can be laid down. These and other issues will be taken up at the Tuesday, Aug. 9 meeting.

Board member Charles Goodwin moved to table choosing a contractor to install a new oil burning furnace in the Town Office building since board chair Denis Benson said select board administrator Cheryl Barker had told him there were two bids but one more company wanted to send in a bid the following day.  Board member Ann Fuji’i suggested that electricity from a proposed solar installation on the roof of the town garage could power a more efficient heat pump for heating and cooling. The motion to table was approved so the board could get additional information about the heat pump option. Benson noted that “we have to do something before winter, one way or another.”

With the possibility of switching to an electric heat pump from oil, board member Jim Linville suggested that the board table oil bids as well. Four companies responded to requests with prices to supply the town of Weston with oil this coming year.

According to Benson, the oil would be used as fuel to heat the town garage, the Town Office building and the Annex, which houses the Little School. Reading the bids, Linville concluded that “you are going to pay for it, whether you use it or not.” Noting that oil prices are unlikely to go up, Fuji’i said, “I would be in favor of looking at the whole and making a decision at the next meeting.” The board passed Linville’s motion to “table it and ask for another quote for the next meeting.” No bids were opened during these discussions.

Benson noted that about 1,000 yards “of stuff from when (the state) did the Route 100 bridge was delivered to the town garage. It has gravel, it has big stones, and it needs to be run through a process to get it down to a uniform size.” Benson proposed that money sent back to the town from the state for costs related to signs and labor during the bridge project as well as money in the budget for items such as Sure Pack be used to do this processing.

“Basically what we’ll be saving is delivery expense and the cost of the material.. . . Otherwise, they were just going to truck it from out of the area.” Fuji”i agreed this “is a good idea.” Linville agreed as well, calling it a “win-win.” Requests for bids to process the material have been sent out, but no replies have been received, according to Barker. Benson hoped bids will be available by the next board meeting.

At Town Meeting in March, a group of residents presented the board with a petition to consider adding to the parking spaces in front of the Little School by using diagonal parking instead of the current parallel parking. The petition also asked for a walking pathway from the Post Office on the corner of Lawrence Hill Road and Route 100 to the library, just past the bridge on Lawrence Hill Road. The Town Meeting voted to support the petition. The Little School is a private organization that rents the Annex building from the town of Weston for $9,100 per year.

In considering the parking petition, Linville said he “made a list of what I could think of as issues on that” and distributed the list to the board. He said the major issue is asking “how close can the town bring pavement to the well head,” which provides water to the Weston Village Store and the Little School. The additional pavement would be needed to provide the additional parking spaces. “If that is in fact the problem, I think we could spend hundreds of dollars, not thousands getting a proper opinion on that matter. And then go forward from there,” Linville said.

Benson noted that the ad hoc committee supporting the petition had agreed to provide the board with an engineer’s letter of opinion regarding the distance the pavement could be from a well head but that this has not yet been received. Fuji’i said she would request that letter again from the parking committee.

Benson then asked the board first to decide which of two wells the Little School will use. There is the possibility of using the well that now serves the Town Office building to provide water for the Little School. The school currently shares a well with the Weston Village Store. Goodwin responded that in talks he had with engineer Oscar Garcia, the cost of testing and permitting required by adding the Little School to the town’s well could approach $15,000. Linville’s motion to ask Garcia for an opinion to see how close the pavement could come to the system well head was tabled so Goodwin could see what statutes might require.

Benson objected to spending any money on this project,  “The Little School is a private business,” said Benson, “They caused the problem … It shouldn’t be up to us to solve the parking problem. … If there is not adequate space, then they should find another building to lease.” He also noted that for years the town has “fought to keep the center of Weston green, and now they want it black.”

“The town voted to have this considered, I think we need to consider it,” said Linville. Fuji’i agreed.

Fuji’i stated that the proposed pathway to connect the Post Office to the library “is a separate issue.”

Board member Bruce Downer took a more “global view,” agreeing with Benson that if the current parking situation is a safety issue, perhaps the Little School could find another location. He also said since the library lacks bathroom facilities and adequate parking, another location for it might be wise. Downer suggested that the board should put a dollar cap on the whole project. No motion was made to that effect.

The meeting began with unanimous board approval to set the homestead late filer fee at 3 percent, as it has been set in the past.  “This year the computer, for some reason, calculated it at 8 percent, so I’ve had a couple of calls about that,” said Town Treasurer Kim Seymour.

Megan Meszkat, director of the Little School, noted that no bids had been received from a published request for painting work on the building. Meszkat made clear to everyone that “at this point the deteriorating paint just needs to be stabilized” adding this could mean scraping and priming just areas in need. Goodwin raised the possibility of power washing the area and Benson suggested that Meszkat contact Chambers of Commerce in Rutland, Bennington and Springfield so they could spread the word to their painting contractors about the project,  which Meszkat estimated would take a day or two.

In responding to a question from Downer about the scope to the work, Linville said the message to contractors is, “what we really would like is to have it prepped and painted and done. But, if you can’t do that, here’s another opportunity.”

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  1. Madeline Bodin says:

    Mr. Benson’s statement that The Little School is a “private business” needs to be corrected. The Little School is a non-profit educational organization. It is not only a preschool that has educated the region’s children for over 40 years, but is a nonprofit preschool at that.