Despite objection over small no-bid project, Weston board OKs large payout

By Bruce Frauman
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Weston Select Board on Tuesday, May 26 voted 3-2 to pay out $964,922.90, with the bulk — $938,716.74 —  going to the Vermont Education Fund. The education payout, however, was not an issue. Instead, chair Denis Benson questioned a $10,000 downpayment to Ron Prouty for building a handicapped ramp at the Wilder Memorial Library, work commissioned by its Board of Directors.

Benson said that $24,610 was a lot of money for the access ramp and asked whether the project was put out to bid. Engineering drawings presented at the May 12 meeting also included a handicapped parking area, blue stone steps and handrails. Library board chair Deborah Granquist told that meeting that the library board had been working on the project for two years and found it difficult to find anyone to bid on this relatively small project. She also said the library would do whatever the Select Board wanted it to do.

Select Board member Jim Linville said there is $40,000 in a reserve fund for library maintenance and if the project is completed before Lawrence Hill Road is paved, the handicapped access area will be better integrated into the roadway. Board member Ann Fuji’i repeatedly said that the key issue is that there was not competitive bidding for the project and it is the board’s decision to accept this particular process.

Both Benson and member Bruce Downer voted against the entire payout, with Downer saying that he did not want to extend the precedent of approving projects without a bid process.

The board decided to send a letter to the boards of the Wilder Memorial Library and the Little School, which is housed in the town-owned Annex Building next to the Town Office, asking them to obtain at least three bids for any project expected to cost more than what is in the new town purchasing policy.

Also, the board approved applied for a permit, requested by Weston Zoning Administrator Will Goodwin, to locate a generator on the south side of the town Annex building. Natalie Boston, the Select Board administrative assistant who started in April, said Goodwin told her that he can fill in more details as needed even after the permit has been signed the application Benson on behalf of the board.

Boston said that she contacted several contractors for a quote for repairs to the Little School slate roof. Benson said two or three slates were found on the ground when the lawn was mowed.

The board also appointed Boston as Weston’s Emergency Management coordinator and “if activated” will be paid at the same rate she earns working for the Select Board.

Board members Linville and Fuji’i, who is also a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, will attend a hearing on Zoom on June 4 regarding moving a house owned by John Coughlin that sits near the Town Office Building.  Benson asked that rubber mats be used to protect the new pavement from being damaged when the heavy equipment is removed from the trailers.

Finally, Downer said the speed cart provided by VTrans to check speeds along Route 100 has not been working and he has spoken to VTrans administrator Marc Pickering to have it repaired. Linville said he has noticed cars slowing down once they see the speed cart.

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