Cavendish Streetscapes looks to reclaim town garage site

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

Rolf van Shaik asks the select board to empower Brendan McNamara to work with Cavendish Streetscapes on the former town garage site. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Members of the Cavendish Streetscapes Committee came before the Select Board last Tuesday to discuss plans to renovate the site of the town garage that burned in February 2017.

Rolf van Shaik told the board that the committee had received a $5,000 donation as well as $800 from a fundraiser held at Murdoch’s Restaurant to help with the work. Van Shaik said the committee respects that the property belongs to the town and is under the jurisdiction of the Select Board, and it wants to create a good landscape design for the community.

Existing conditions at the former garage site

Landscape architect Tim Calabrese said the group had some ideas but needed to develop a program based on the use for the land with feedback from the board and the community. Calabrese discussed blending the garage property with the historical society building and asked about the possibility of removing the shed that is still on the site.

Town Manager Brendan McNamara told Calabrese that removing the building has “always been part of the plan” and would involve the siting of the fuel pump at the new town garage as well as rebuilding the salt shed there. McNamara noted that there is $5,000 in old community development money that could be used for the project as well.

Historical Society President Margo Caulfield said the project could be a “golden gem” in the restoration of downtown Cavendish and suggested that the committee involve Mack Molding and the owners of the Cavendish General Store property in the design process.

Board member George Timko noted that the committee would not be doing any work on the site until spring so there would be time for discussions and planning. Van Shaik asked the board to authorize McNamara to act on its behalf in the planning stages to move the project along.

According to van Shaik, anyone who wants to volunteer or contribute to the effort can contact the Streetscapes committee at P.O. Box 605, Cavendish or at the Cavendish Streetscapes page on Facebook.

Tierney road speed limit

The board resumed its discussion of a speed limit reduction from 35 mph to 25 mph requested by residents along Tierney Road.  McNamara said he had looked into the process for making such a change and was told that VTrans and the Regional Planning Commission say that engineering and traffic studies – while not required – are “highly recommended.”

McNamara said the studies give the town the valid reason for making the change while avoiding the creation of a precedent. He noted that the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission would do the studies at no charge and give the board the data it needs to make a decision. The board passed a motion to go ahead with the studies.

Water and wastewater issues

McNamara gave the board a proposed budget for the Water and Wastewater Department noting that they would need to work on the rate structure. A recent audit by USDA Rural Development found that the current rate structure is not financially sustainable.

McNamara explains the problems involved with the water system’s financial sustainability

“We need to take a long, hard look at what we are charging,” said McNamara, adding that the town needs to figure out what it costs to deliver a gallon of water.

Complicating the issue of how much to charge is the fact that as many as one-third of all the water meters in town do not work or have numbers that are so faded they are difficult to read. That means that the town is not billing for the gallons of water taken over the quarterly allowance.

McNamara also noted that a number of buildings that have one water allocation have been turned into apartments, which should have one allocation each. He said an audit of such properties should be done and funding sources for new water meters should be identified.

In addition to its financial woes, the department also is looking for an assistant water and wastewater operator. Chief Water/Wastewater Operator Randy Shimp’s daughter Jackie has been filling in since the previous assistant left. McNamara said she is doing a great job and the town would love to have her on the staff, but she is not interested in the job.

McNamara noted that Shimp is nearing retirement and that an assistant who could obtain the necessary qualifications could move into the chief’s position in the future.

Those interested in the job should send a resume c/o Brendan McNamara, P.O. Box 37, Cavendish, VT, 05142.

Tax sales possible; Town Plan hearing0

The board approved the use of the lower sand pit at the wastewater plant by the Windsor County Sheriff’s Department for a low light shooting training. The area will be closed off for the training and there will be public notice once the date is set.

McNamara told the board that there about a dozen parcels representing $187,000 in delinquent taxes and, potentially, a tax sale will be scheduled for November

At the beginning of the meeting, it was noted that Cavendish does not currently have an animal control officer and that anyone who would like the paid position should contact the Town Office. “Chasing down dogs is not my forte,” said McNamara.  “I’ll even make you a badge.”

McNamara told the board that the Depot Street bridge project is moving along with the pouring of concrete, but it’s doubtful that it will be done before winter.

He also noted that the aeration system at the wastewater treatment plant is finally finished and working and the demolition of the derelict building at 58 Depot St. is under way.

There also will be a hearing on the Town Plan before next month’s Select Board meeting. The hearing will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Finally, McNamara said the town would be flushing hydrants during the week of Oct. 28.


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