The current cost of maintain Pond Road is $14,901/year. The Shelburne Selectboard recently provided estimates that show that the gravel surface can be upgraded and maintained for an annual cost of $20,026/year. Chip sealing all of Pond Road would require an annual expenditure of $65,068/year. These are forecasted annual expenditures for the next 8-12 years, depending on the life of the material. In essence, a 325 percent premium cost to maintain the road if it is chipped seal.
However, this is not the real cost. The town’s planning maps highlight the environmental sensitivity of this area including:
Natural biological area
Wildlife core habitat
Deer wintering area
The real cost, if we pave the road, must include our indifference toward protecting a natural resource that the state Fish and Wildlife Department refers to as “Tier 1, the highest contribution to the states biodiversity. This area includes at least 10 species in the Heritage database of rare, threatened, and endangered species.” This is not my opinion but rather the opinion of the State Planning Biologist whose responsibility includes assisting towns like Shelburne to understand the long-term impact of the decision we are about to make.
Ed Kiniry, Shelburne