Weston Board says ‘no’ to Little School diagonal parking

By Bruce Frauman
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Feeling they had done their due diligence, members of the Weston Select Board on Aug. 9 voted to draft a letter to the committee that proposed changes to the parking in front of the Little School saying that it did not “seem like a viable option.”

Weston Select Board, clockwise from left,

Weston Select Board meeting, clockwise from left, Charles Goodwin, Ann Fuji’i, Jim Linville, Cheryl Barker and Denis Benson. Former select board member Donald Hart is in the back of the room.

At Town Meeting in March, voters had approved a non-binding resolution petitioned by several Weston residents. The proposal was to change the current spaces that are parallel to the street to diagonal parking, which they considered to be a safer. The Little School leases the town-owned Annex building.

Select Board member Annie Fuji’i  said that the board had looked into the idea but found that “everybody we talked with (said)…this is a problem, this is a problem and this is a problem.” Board vice chair Jim Linville and Fuji’i said the concerns were a possible reduction in safety from moving to diagonal parking, that the change would bring paving too close to a well head, posing a water safety issue and issues with storm water drainage.

The question of a pathway between the Post Office and the library, also requested in the petition, was kept alive but tabled while the board conducts more research. Road Foreman Alman Crandall told Fuji’i that his research into the Americans with Disabilities Act said the handicapped parking spot in front of the Town Office building must be connected to the Little School with a wheelchair accessible path.

“We have a lawn out there,” said board chair Denis Benson. “People have been walking on it for years. Why can’t they just continue using the lawn?”

“Because a lot of people don’t,” replied Fuji’i. “They think they are going over private property on somebody’s lawn. If you see people that walk from the Post Office, a lot of them go in the middle of the street. I just want to tidy this up. … I feel we need to respond to the residents and do our homework and get it done and respond and go from there.”

The Little School. Photo from weston-vermont.com

The Little School. Photo from weston-vermont.com

Board member Charles Goodwin added that in the winter, sometimes the area around the Post Office can be icy, which can be addressed along with a possible pathway or sidewalk.

In other action, Decato Painting of Rutland’s bid of $13,250 to scrape and paint two walls of the Annex building was accepted. A provision was added by Benson to complete the job by the end of September, although it would be better if the project was completed by start of school.

The board also accepted a bid proposal by Dorr Oil to install an oil burner and furnace in the town office for $3,600 contingent on further research into an electric heat pump option. This was one of four bids. The board accepted Linville’s motion to “inquire about a double wall oil tank from Dorr Oil and consider getting that if it is not prohibitive.”

Three oil bids were considered, though two bids had already expired by the time of the meeting. At Benson’s suggestion the board agreed to ask Town Administrator Cheryl Barker to ask each company to submit new bids that will be valid at the time of the next meeting. Linville proposed  that they buy oil at market value from a chosen supplier this winter rather than at a pre-buy fixed price. The board will consider the bids at the next meeting.

The board also continued to search for a solution to the water situation at the Little School, which shares its water supply from a town-owned well with the Weston Village Store. The water must be tested on annually to protect the students. Barker said engineer Oscar Garcia said that the water tested from a faucet at the Weston Village Store would not pass inspection unless piping to the faucet and the faucet were first replaced. Goodwin and Linville will approach the store owner to ask if he is willing to make these changes.

“This could be really, really easy,” said Linville.

“What could be and will be are two different things,” replied Benson

Two bids to crush the gravel left over from a state bridge replacement project on Route 100 were discussed. The Board accepted David Chaves’s bid of $4 per cubic yard using Weston’s loader. Chaves estimates there is at least 1,000 cubic yards of material.

Crandall said that a private driveway on Piper Hill has needed a culvert for at least a year. He said there is a trench across the driveway that is getting deeper. The culvert is the responsibility of the homeowner.

“What we did last year is we voted to . . . ask the homeowner to repair it,” said Linville. “If they didn’t repair it, with their approval, we would repair it and attach a lien to the property for the cost of doing the work.”

Benson asked Barker to check if the board had sent the homeowner a registered letter in 2015. If so, a culvert will be installed and a lien a attached to the property. If not, they will send one and wait 30 days before putting in the culvert. The board agreed without a vote.

Linville pointed out that there are two issues to the culvert. One is homeowner access to their driveway. The other “is that if the gully isn’t fixed, our road is endangered. And if we get a real gully washer up there, we are going to have to repair our road.“ Goodwin added, “It is in the town’s best interest.”

Benson finished the meeting asking the board to consider changes to the purchasing policy to make it easier to buy supplies without a bid process in an emergency.

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