Full Derry board meeting opens with tribute to Prouty

By Bruce Frauman
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

With his voice breaking, Londonderry Select Board chair Paul Gordon opened the meeting of Feb. 13 saying, “It is with great sadness that I step in as vice chairman. The sudden passing of our chairman and friend, Steve Prouty, leaves us without our dedicated leader.”

Road Foreman Duane Hart hopes to repave 2.2 miles of Londonderry roads this year. Photos by Bruce Frauman

Prouty, 66, who was chairman of the board, died on the morning of Feb. 6 of a lung disease. That night’s board meeting was canceled and rescheduled for Feb. 13.

Gordon said, “Steve’s service to the town of Londonderry spanned many years as he served us in many capacities. He will be remembered as a diligent public servant and a friend to all. We are deeply saddened in grievous loss. . . From the Select Board and our employees, we express our condolences to Steve’s family and friends … We will continue our work knowing that doing so would be his wishes. We miss him terribly.”

Gordon will lead the meetings as vice chair until a new board is seated. Three positions are now up for vote on Town Meeting Day, Tuesday, March 7 and the board can vote on leadership positions. There are only two board meetings scheduled before Town Meeting. Gordon also said that with Prouty’s death, the town will need to fill the post of Road Commissioner.  This position can be filled by a board member, but doesn’t have to be, Gordon said. He encouraged anyone with an interest to contact the board.

Act 46 vote, a foreclosure, the Genser property etc.

In other action, Town Clerk Kelly Pajala reminded the board that the Australian ballot vote on the Act 46 school district merger would take place at Town Hall on Middletown Road from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Town Meeting Day. Gordon noted that the ballot can be viewed from the town’s website and contains lengthy provisions ending in a simple yes or no vote. Candidates for the board of the proposed Taconic and Green School District are also on the ballot. Board member Will Reed mentioned that another informational meeting about the proposal will be held at the Manchester Community Library at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2.

Select Board member Will Reed.

Gordon noted that candidates night is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Twitchell Building. Those seeking to join the Select Board and other open positions are asked to announce their intentions. Candidates can also be announced from the floor at Town Meeting.

Reed also announced that the town is officially developing a comprehensive energy plan, thanks to a grant from the Windham Regional Commission.  Those interested in serving on the Energy Committee should sign up by Monday, Feb. 20.

Town Treasurer Tina Labeau said the bank handling the foreclosure of Kraig Hart’s Frog’s Leap Inn on Route 100 North is seeking to extend the redemption period where the bank could take the property back from the town.  The town obtained the property last year when no one bid on it at a tax sale and, without the extension, the deed will transfer to the town on March 8. In that case, the town would have to sell the property, according to Labeau.

Labeau said the total tax due is “in the neighborhood of $260,000.” The list price is $550,000 and there are three parties interested in the property, she said. The board will take up the extension again on Feb. 20.

Planning Commission member Emmett Dunbar.

The board explored building the concrete walls in the salt and sand shed to 6 feet above ground instead of the planned 10 feet. Gordon said a structural engineer explained that there is a much greater load from sand or salt piled against a 10 foot high wall than one that is 6 feet.  He concluded that the town would also save money — and retain the needed capacity —  by building the walls to 6 feet, then using 12-foot lumber to create a building 18 feet high. The board will continue to work out details to bring to Town Meeting. Gordon said, “Our best estimate was to stay under the 200 (thousand dollars), but we think we can do significantly better than that.“

Former town administrator Kevin Beattie wrote a letter to the town stating, “We are working with the attorney on setting up a closing with the Gensers,” whose property was damaged during Tropical Storm  Irene but fell into a technical chasm when it came to a FEMA buyout. Beattie is working with current town administrator Stephanie Thompson to close out the FEMA grant process and proceed with the Community Block Development Grant so the Gensers’ can be paid for their property.

Planning Commission member Emmett Dunbar asked the Select Board for more information regarding plans for the Prouty property, where the salt and sand shed is being sited, saying that the information can help make the Planning Commission  a better partner in making future plans for the property.

Recycling coordinator Esther Fishman.

The board also approved of a request from Beattie and Mighty Londonderry, a community resilience organization, for a 10-minute presentation from a representative of Vermont Alert, which would allow trained individuals, such as Beattie, to generate alerts through text messages, phone messages, email and more. Those receiving the alerts can be determined in a wide variety of ways. Brochures on Vermont Alert will be available at Town Meeting.

Road Foreman Duane Hart talked about his plan to send out a Request for Proposals to pave 2.2 miles of roads this year: Magic Mountain Access Road, Mansfield Lane, Hells Peak, Route 121 and Howard Hill. Each would receive a 3/4 inch shim coat and a 3/4 inch overlay. $150,000 is budgeted each year for paving. Hart would also like to pave a small portion of  Scott Pet Road to save the time and expense of sanding it, as it lies relatively far from the nearest dirt road, which is Lowell Lake Road. The board had no objections.

Recycling coordinator Esther Fishman said that the Transfer Station will no longer accept textiles. She added that she has gotten quotes for printing stickers that would be used instead of cash at the Transfer Station. If all the towns agree, Fishman’s goal is to include a flyer about the payment change in the tax bills each town sends out. Work on this proposal will continue.

Pajala announced that dog licenses are available and are due by April 1. A rabies clinic is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 16 at the South Londonderry office of Green Mountain Veterinary Hospital.

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