Derry to put ‘No Parking’ signs on Lowell Lake Rd. Flood response, muddy roads merit attention during board meeting

By Bruce Frauman
©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The town of Londonderry intends to place “No Parking” signs along Lowell Lake Road, Select Board chair Jim Ameden announced at the Tuesday, April 15 Select Board meeting.

Select Board member George Mora said that once the lake’s parking lot is full, visitors tend to park along the road, with their engines running waiting for a spot to open up.

Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe explains why posting Lowell Lake Road with ‘No Parking’ signs will be legal.

Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe said that this move is acceptable under the new Traffic and Parking Ordinance, which states that “it shall be unlawful to park a vehicle when the presence of such vehicle will obstruct the free passage of any other vehicles upon the street.”

O’Keefe said he will send the new ordinance to Lt. Anthony French of the Vermont State Police once the 44-day period passes for voters to petition the traffic ordinance to a vote. If no one objects, the ordinance becomes law. The board adopted the ordinance on April 1, starting the clock ticking on the 44-day requirement.

Also, board based on a recommendation by Marble Valley Engineering, the board approved a bid of $71,355 from Hodgkins & Sons for Town Office grading and drainage improvements. An additional 2 percent was added on O’Keefe’s recommendation to allow for unexpected change orders. O’Keefe was authorized to manage the funds. Marble Valley was accepted as inspectors on the Town Office Planning Project Phase 1.

The board tabled a vote on a proposal by board member Taylor Prouty, who was not present, to provide a $40 per month reimbursement to each road crew member for use of their personal cell phones to take pictures of culverts and roads before and after repairs. O’Keefe said though the road crew deserves some kind of stipend, other town officials also use their cell phones on behalf of the town.

Town functioned well during Monday’s flooding

Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie praised the town for functioning well during Monday’s flooding.

Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie said he opened the Emergency Operation Center at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, April 15 because of the flooding of several town roads. He said communication flow was “really good,” with the road foreman and both fire department chiefs providing Beattie with information, so that he was able to provide a report to the state at 9 a.m.

Beattie said that Barker Road, Springhill Road, Owen Road and Roberts Road all were impacted by the flooding and a couple were closed for a while. He also said Route 11 was closed for half the day.

Two people Beattie said were really helpful were Chris Blackey, also known as “The Weather Guy,” and John Thibodeaux, a member of the Phoenix Fire Department who works for the Army Corps of Engineers and has access to a water flow station at a nearby campground and was able to tell Beattie that the West River had peaked at 8:30 a.m. They also kept him informed of conditions throughout the day.

Ameden said noted that Road Foreman Mathew Rawson “was on his game and getting around and taking care of issues as they arose as best as he could.”

Denis Pinkernell complains that Under the Mountain Road is still suffering from mud season.

Resident Denis Pinkernell said he is concerned about the town’s roads, and specifically mentioned Under the Mountain Road, which he said has been in bad shape for five weeks. Pinkernell said town trucks passed over mud spots to lay some gravel on another part of the road. Rawson replied that those spots were still frozen, so adding gravel will not help.

Ameden said the road crew has been on Pinkernell’s road almost every day. He added that every mud season is different but that a road cannot be graded until the frost comes out. Ameden also said that every road has a different base, receives a different amount of sun and takes moisture differently.

Ameden also said that if residents in a neighborhood agree, the town can trim and cut down trees to allow more sunshine on the roads, which helps dry them out in the spring.  Mora added that the town has been sued for cutting down trees. There was no final resolution to Pinkernell’s complaint.

Dale again urges traffic safety audit of Route 11

Dick Dale repeated his request that the board ask the Windham Regional Commission for a traffic safety audit of Route 11 through town, which the Traffic Safety Committee is recommending.  He said he is especially concerned about the width of transported mobile homes taking up most of the Utley Bridge and not leaving enough room for cars or trucks to pass.

Dick Dale again urges Londonderry to ask the Windham Regional Commission to conduct a traffic safety audit of Route 11.

Mora said that O’Keefe had asked Matt Bogaczyk of the Transportation Agency if a safety audit had been done as part of the planning for the re-paving of Route 11 from Londonderry to Chester. The board will take up the request if the state has not already conducted one.

Dale also suggested to the board that the 30 mph speed limit sign on eastbound Route 11 be moved farther west up the hill to give travelers more time to slow down.

Ameden said that so many parents are driving their kids to Flood Brook school that the cars back up on Route 11 in front of the Swiss Inn and there have been “some near misses.” Dale said this is an issue at all five schools in the Taconic and Green District and is being “worked on.”

An Annual Financial Plans for Town Highways was approved. Estimated expenses for maintenance and paving totaled $662,130, of which $551,177 will come from town tax funds and the rest state funds.

Elsie Smith was appointed to the Planning Commission for a 1 year transitional term based on a recommendation by the PC as represented by Sharon Crossman at the meeting. Crossman said there were four applicants for the position and hopefully they will all find some say to serve the town. Smith said she has had experience in Westchester County, N.Y., especially with downtown development and affordable housing.

In other business:

  • Board member Tom Cavanagh said the Transfer Station was closed the morning of April 15 due to road flooding, but was opened that afternoon. He also said the Transfer Station will be closed Easter Sunday, April 21.
  • Treasurer Tina Labeau said that at three quarters through the fiscal year, expenses are 87 percent of the total budget, which is on track for the year. Labeau also said delinquent taxes are down to about $100,000.
  • Melvin Twitchell was appointed deputy fire warden. Ameden said Twitchell has already been working with current Fire Warden Jim Twitchell.
  • The board disbanded the Traffic Safety Committee, with gratitude to those who participated.
  • Finally, the board agreed to discuss compensation rates for the road crew after it meets on April 23 to conduct performance evaluations of Transfer Station employees.
  • O’Keefe said the application for the water/waste water grant application will be added to this meeting agenda.
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