Genser property buyout hung up by Fairpoint pole

By Bruce Frauman
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Bette Genser asks for an update on the delayed buyout of her property Photos by Bruce Frauman

Bette Genser asks for an update on the delayed buyout of her property Photos by Bruce Frauman

Bette Genser, owner of the former Barn Outlet store at Routes 11 and 100 in Londonderry, came to the Dec. 5 Londonderry Select Board meeting looking for an update on the buyout of her property after flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. She left with promises to “do whatever is needed” to complete the process.

Genser told the board that she had spoken with former Town Administrator Kevin Beattie about the delay and was told that the obstacle to wrapping it up is a utility pole in South Londonderry that Fairpoint needs to remove. Beattie has continued to work on Irene- related issues as the towns Emergency Management director.

“We cannot go forward with anything before they wrap up FEMA,” said Genser,  “and they can’t wrap up the FEMA thing until the pole is removed.”

Road Foreman Duane Hart said the pole is on a FEMA buyout property in South Londonderry. Board member Bill Wiley noted that Fairpoint is “notorious for not doing anything. I mean for months and months.” Town Clerk Kelly Pajala said because the FEMA buyout properties were “all together,” the entire project is hung up.

The Genser property was flooded during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and designated for a FEMA buyout. But a dispute arose between FEMA, which insisted that all structures on the land be removed, and Vermont’s Agency of Transportation, which has insisted that a flood wall on the property must stay in place. The dispute nixed the FEMA buyout, but a state program was available to complete the transaction.

Town Administrator Stephanie Thompson said the financial source for the buyout now is a Community Development Block Grant administered by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. She added, “Before we can proceed with CDBG, FEMA has to be closed out.” Thompson said she will ask Beattie for all pertinent information and follow up with all the agencies involved. Gordon offered his help, including asking State Rep. Oliver Olsen for help to resolve the matter before the CDBG grant expires this spring.

Board chair Steve Prouty said he had put all his confidence in Beattie. Board member Paul Gordon said “we know we can’t put it out for demolition until the paper work is such that we own it. We can’t own it until some of those conditions are met. God knows we are sympathetic.”

Parks consolidation proposed; smoking on town property

Parks board member Kelly Pajala proposes the consolidation of parks boards

Parks board member Kelly Pajala proposes the consolidation of parks boards

Town Parks Board member Kelly Pajala proposed a new seven-member board to manage all the town’s parks, including Memorial Park, which has been run for decades by its own trustees.

Memorial Park trustee Taylor Barton told the Select Board that for the past six or seven years, they have had a hard time keeping a group of five active members going. Barton said they need help with maintenance, signs, clearing of brush and more, and it would be “nice to be able to work with Duane and his crew.” The two parks boards will meet and work out details before the next Select Board meeting. The Select Board expects to appoint seven of the current eight members of the two parks boards to the new one.

In other news, Thompson suggested that the phrase “except where there is a designated smoking area” be added to the town’s personnel policy that prohibits “employees’ use of tobacco in any form in all publicly owned buildings, offices and enclosed areas, and in all Town vehicles.”

Esther Fishman, Overseer of the Transfer Station, had asked for clarification so properly worded signs could be posted at the transfer station. Gordon responded that there ought to be no smoking or other use of tobacco on any town property at any time. Board member Will Reed said and employee who smokes “either breaks the rule or we can accommodate them” in some way. Parks are already designated as smoke free areas. Thompson will “work on some draft language” with Maryann Morris, director of the Collaborative, and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to bring to a future Board meeting.

Call for new public works position; salt shed estimates; emergency generator contract

Easements for culvert work on Derry Woods Road have not been obtained though the request came to the board in April. The two-year grant for the project runs out Dec. 31. The board authorized Thompson to work with the town’s attorney to try to get the required easements before the end of the year.

Board Chair Steve Prouty, left, suggesting the need for a commissioner of public works. Board member Will Reed at right

Board chair Steve Prouty, left, suggests the need for a commissioner of public works as member Will Reed listens.

In response to the lack of work on the easements, Prouty suggested the need for a public works commissioner. Hart agreed and has been looking at other towns with a  commissioner whose role is essentially the same as the work Hart has been doing. “We need someone to take ownership for a task and do it from start to finish,” said Hart.

Wiley said the board could hire a road foreman for the day to day work in the field. Hart will submit to the board a list of tasks for which a public works commissioner would be responsible.

Wiley gave with the board estimates for the proposed salt and sand shed including excavation work, a metal framed and covered building and concrete footings and walls. Wiley will work with Gordon to present a more formal set of estimates to the board including wood based and cloth covered buildings. Gordon recommended that the board choose one option and present all the details during town meeting in March. Various outlets for presenting these plans as well as the urgent need for a new shed to the public will be explored.

In other business, the board approved a quote of $51,119 from Sparky Electric for the purchase and installation of a generator for Flood Brook School. A grant for the generator will cover some of the costs and the towns of Peru, Landgrove, and Weston will share in the balance of the cost. The goal is to establish Flood Brook School as an emergency shelter.

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