Derry board hears about traffic safety data, Energy Committee’s next steps

A moment of laughter breaks out with Town Clerk and state Rep. Kelly Pajala, standing. All photos by Cherise Madigan.

By Cherise Madigan
2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Appointments and announcements dominated the first meeting of the Londonderry Select Board following Town Meeting, with acting chairman Jim Ameden — who previously served as chairman between 2005 and 2016 — formalizing his leadership of the board, and fellow member George Mora elected to vice chair.

The Monday, March 19 meeting was also the first for new Board member Taylor Prouty, who was elected without opposition at Town Meeting to complete the final year of former chairman Paul Gordon’s three-year term.

Outside of the board’s own organization, however, little changed when it came to town officials. Ameden was re-appointed to Road Commissioner, Kevin Beattie will continue to serve as both Emergency Management director and Tree Warden, Patrick Salo was named as Animal Control Officer once again, and Irwin Kuperberg was re-appointed as Londonderry’s Health Officer with Dr. Roger Fox continuing as his deputy. Board member George Mora will serve once again as the town’s representative on the Windham Regional Commission alongside Denis Pinkernell.

Appointments for the positions of Fire Warden and 911 coordinator were postponed since Jim Twitchell, who currently holds both titles, was not at Monday’s meeting.

Traffic Safety, Energy Committee and solar siting

Traffic Safety Committee chair Dick Dale discusses data gathering.

An update on the nascent Traffic Safety Committee — formed by the Select Board last fall in response to residents’ concerns about traffic safety in Londonderry — was provided by newly elected chair Dick Dale, who explained that the committee will rely heavily on data to address those concerns.

While that data will primarily be sourced from previous studies, Dale noted that the committee is looking to collaborate with the town’s road crew to collect fresh information.

Energy Coordinator Bob Borella then queried the board on behalf of the town’s Energy Committee, which has just concluded its work with the Windham Regional Commission on energy planning and potential energy programs. Now that those proposals have been forwarded to the Planning Commission for review and potential incorporation in a new Town Plan, Borella said, the committee has shifted its focus to coordinating energy conservation related events and information campaigns.

While the Energy Committee has chosen to launch its own domain for those purposes rather than utilizing the official town website, he said, social media posed a separate issue as the town of Londonderry has no official presence on sites like Facebook (though an informal group, the Londonderry Community Forum, has garnered attention in the past). Though Borella said the group was only seeking to disseminate information through social media, he expressed hesitancy to create a page for an official town entity without the board’s approval.

Energy Coordinator Bob Borella talks about setting up an informal internet page for the committee.

After some discussion, Town Administrator Robert Nied noted that an official town page would likely be subject to rules and regulations regarding public information and the management thereof.

Ameden suggested that the Energy Committee look to the town’s Park Committee, which includes a disclaimer on their Facebook group noting that it is not an official town forum.

Board member Bob Forbes then provided an update on the town’s new sand and salt shed, which is nearing completion, although tasks like backfilling and grading behind the building will need to wait for warmer weather. Nied noted that Londonderry’s Town Office Planning Project was also moving forward, and that the Planning Commission was working to finalize an agreement for the project in the next month to allow for a long construction season.

The Select Board signed off on a letter to the Public Utility Commission stating that there was no apparent opposition in Londonderry to a proposed solar project on property owned by Jeff and Lisa Yrsha along Route 100.

Ameden explained some seasonal issues experienced by the underground fuel tank at the Town Offices, and noted that a state program could offer zero-percent financing for new equipment in an effort to encourage towns to transition to above ground tanks. While no official decision was made, Ameden noted that Road Foreman Matthew Rawson would continue to collect information.

While the board approved a contract to Vermont State Police for $27,963.52, Ameden noted that a total allocation of $40,000 would be provided — as approved by Town Meeting — in the interest of increased presence when possible. An agreement with the State of Vermont for the installation of signage and road markings on Middletown Road, which will be fully funded by the state, was also approved.

Also, Nied presented a letter to the state’s Public Utility Commission, which was later signed and approved by the board, stating that there was no apparent opposition in Londonderry to a proposed solar project on property owned by Jeff and Lisa Yrsha along Route 100.

Lisa Yrsha expressed her frustration with the process, stating that she first requested the document last spring and has gotten little communication from town officials since. Nonetheless, Yrsha said she was satisfied with the final letter provided by the board. Nied noted that as final plans for the project have not been reviewed by all town boards and entities, a generalized letter of support was necessary.

Wastewater study information meeting

Planning Commission member Sharon Crossman  announced that Londonderry is a potential candidate for a wastewater study that has come up in previous meetings, and that an informational event with both the Windham Regional Commission and the Rich Earth Institute will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 2 at the Twitchell Building right before the 7 p.m. Select Board meeting. Town Clerk Kelly Pajala noted that the deadline for renewing dog registration is April 2, and that a rabies clinic will be held 9 snd 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 22.

Liquor licenses were approved for the New American Grill, the Garden Restaurant, the Garden Market, Jelly Enterprises, and the Upper Pass Lodge. An event permit was also approved for Citizen Cider, which will be hosting a Spring Fling with Magic Mountain this weekend.

And finally, the board approved an excess weight permit for Gurney Brothers Construction, and agreed to revise the official job description for the town’s road crew in light of an anticipated resignation.

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About the Author: Journalist and photographer Cherise Madigan specializes in writing about outdoor recreation, the environment and travel. She has roots in Manchester and a history of reporting throughout Southern Vermont. Madigan is a graduate of Nazareth College of Rochester, earning her degree in Political Science summa cum laude in 2015.

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