As Weston board wrestles with building upgrades, it votes down designated committee

Board member Annie Fuji’i, center, suggested setting up a panel to look at issues at town facilities. All photos by Bruce Frauman

By Bruce Frauman
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Weston Board member Ann Fuji’i was unable to convince fellow board members during their Tuesday, Oct. 9 meeting that they should establish a committee to manage town buildings.

Fuji’i argued that a standing committee that meets as needed could help oversee replacing the Town Office building’s oil burning furnace with heat pumps, complete the replacement of windows in that building and the installation of solar panels at the town garage. Projects involving the Town Annex, now housing the Little School, could be handled by this committee as well, she suggested.

But board Chair Denis Benson said projects should be handled on a case-by-case basis by people who have an interest in a particular project. Board member Charles Goodwin agreed.

Resident Donald Hart recalled that an earlier committee that has since been disbanded consisted of contractors brought together by the Select Board and later consisted of people interested in interior design.

Goodwin’s motion to establish an ongoing buildings committee was defeated 3 to 1 with only Fuji’i voting in favor.

The issue came up later when Goodwin asked if installing solar panels on the town garage roof would change the cost of heat pumps.

Fuji’i repeated her suggestion that the board create a small committee that could look at issues with town-owned buildings, including the heat pumps. That group could then bring its research to the board.

Bruce Downer suggested calling in experts to give advice.

Board member Bruce Downer suggested that they informally “call in two or three experts to enlighten us” on different ways to heat the Town Office building. Linville said Barker contacted four contractors who install heat pumps. One returned her call but said they are very busy right now, but would be glad to come to the board later this winter. Linville said he would like to have prices in time for Town Meeting in March.

In a related buildings issue, Linville said that state water engineer Oscar Garcia will take a sample of water at the point of entry to the Little School during the first and second quarter of 2019 at a cost of less than $100 per test.

Garcia had told Linville that he was concerned about copper and lead levels in the water being supplied from a town well to the Weston Country Store. Linville said water is being supplied to the Little School in a plastic pipe, so copper and lead should not be a problem.  Test results should make it clear if and where any problems exist.

Resident points to federal campground as problematic

Christine Mix tells the board about a situation that occurred with a stranger experiencing a psychotic episode coming to her house.

Greendale Road resident Christine Mix told the board that around 8 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 1, “a man in a psychotic state” banged on the door to her house, demanding entry and claiming he was wet and cold and injured and needed to use the phone. Mix said she believed the man had come from a nearby federally run campground that doesn’t charge.

Mix said she gave the man a phone while keeping him outside as her boyfriend called Vermont State Police on his cellphone. Forty-five minutes later, State Police arrived and took the man into custody.

Board member Jim Linville suggested that she contact U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders as well as U.S. Rep. Peter Welch since the campground is a federally owned.

Mix said her main concern is to bring more awareness to the neighbors to keep the community safe.

Linville said he spoke with a sergeant at the Westminster VSP barracks after hearing Mix’s story from board administrator Cheryl Barker, and State Police had received three calls about the same man.  According to Linville, the State Police has five to six officers covering all of southern Vermont from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily and, without its own police force, Weston must rely on it.

Finally, Benson said Chris Campany, executive director of the Windham Regional Commission, will attend the Weston Planning Commission at 6 p.m. on Nov. 6 to talk about wastewater solutions as part of a Stormwater Municipal Mitigation project that the WRC is working with Weston to implement. The WRC is seeking to prevent surface water from entering streams, rivers, ponds and lakes.

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