Weston board continues to mull ash borer

By Bruce Frauman
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

After attending an informational session on Tuesday Sept. 12 on the emerald ash borer, Weston Select Board member Charles Goodwin told the board on Wednesday that an organizing structure is needed to look at the most urgent questions in preparing for the arrival of the beetle.

Arborist Raymond Mara explains the spread of the emerald ash borer. Photos by Bruce Frauman.

The first step, according to Goodwin, is to conduct an inventory of ash trees in town, including the size of trees, which trees are important to property owners and trees that threaten power lines. Arborist Raymond Mara said that after the leaves drop, a survey should be done to make an educated guess whether trees may already be infected.

With that information, the town can make some decisions on an action plan. Perhaps most important is an on-going education program to slow the spread of the beetle. Mara said the survey needs a dedicated team with trained eyes.

Goodwin said left on its own, the beetle will spread about 1 mile per year. Mara agreed, saying that one firewood vendor can introduce the beetle to a new area far from an existing infestation. He added that websites, such as vtinvasive.org, have a lot of useful information. The beetle, he added has been found in Orange, Vt., and North Adams, Mass.

To keep the beetle from spreading, he added, state and federal foresters take protective measures  five miles from the infected trees and then five miles beyond.

Goodwin its not urgent to cut down healthy ash trees since studies done in Michigan show that even infestation does not affect the market price of ash trees all that much.

The Telegraph, also attending the beetle information session, learned that its spread in Vermont could take decades as long as the transport of the beetle is strictly controlled. Besides removal of trees there are effective chemical treatments that can keep the insect from infesting healthy trees.

Board member Jim Linville said he would like to see at least a 10 minute presentation and question and answer session on the beetle at town meeting along with a table covered with literature.

Town project updates

Acting as board chair, Jim Linville agreed with several members that several options for heating the town office building should be heard.

After a discussion that stressed the complexity of replacing the oil burner in the town office building with a heat pump system, Linville suggested that installers and suppliers be brought in one at a time to look at the situation and make recommendations.

Board member Ann Fuji’i said there are a lot of variables and a presentation from experts was necessary. Linville said he’d like to present an estimate to the Town Meeting in March 2019 and suggested a presentation at that time.

Fuji’i presented drawings by DuBois and King that show the removal of the lower dam on the West River and the redirection of the stream to its natural flow. The Weston Community Association owns the dams and asked for the engineering. Fuji’i said that, by November, drawings will be completed along with guidelines for the Association to put out Request for Proposals.

Road chief Almon Crandall told the board that work on the garage roof has been started. Fuji’i said the contractor said there are some spots of rotting wood.

In other business

The board is considering several people who might be asked to fill the vacant position on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. There is a possibility that one ZBA issue is coming up in early October with others to follow, Fuji’i said.

Fuji’i will follow up with her contact at the state about the clutter on Longley Loop. Fuji’i said the violation consists of more than the allowed number of unregistered vehicles and hazardous waste and oil cans on the property. Because the boundary is the building itself, everything on the road is on town land. She added that the state has been alerted to the situation many times, but this is considered minor compared with others in the state.

The Bboard agreed to stay with Fothergill, Segale and Valley CPAs to conduct annual audits of the town’s bookkeeping at a cost of $11,500, which will be guaranteed for three years. The cost has been $10,000 for the past three years. Goodwin said he saw no need to change since they seem to be thorough. Town Treasurer Kim Seymour said they point out improvements and are helpful about it.

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