By Heather McKim
Police services provided to Charlotte and a proposed bike path between Pierson Drive and Hawley Road were two issues that elicited much discussion at the June 10 meeting of the Shelburne Selectboard.
For several years, Shelburne has contracted out police services to Charlotte. The arrangement has been somewhat controversial, with some even questioning its fairness. The renewal of that contract, and Shelburne’s desire for a heightened financial commitment from Charlotte, was on the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting.
Three members of the Charlotte Selectboard, Chair Lane Morrison, Charles Russell and Matt Krasnow, were present to discuss the agreement that is set to expire at the end of June. Their Board had requested bids for police service, and Shelburne had responded with a number of $87 per hour, significantly less than the $160 per hour that the town pays for its own police services.
“It’s hard for us to commit to a partnership right now,” Morrison said, stating that Charlotte was looking for another one-year contract, but was willing to go with the State Police if that was the cheaper option.
Chair Gary von Stange, who characterized the relationship between the two towns as “unilateral aid,” said that he was pro-partnership. He has seen the one-year deal each of his six years on the Selectboard, and he said that he was willing to do another one-year contract only if there was a mutual commitment to work toward a partnership.
Board members suggested reaching “out to Charlotte to work on a long-term plan,” but met with opposition by Morrison who said that the citizens of his town did not want more services.
Board member Allison Kranmer said that Morrison’s comments about the residents of Charlotte not wanting more services while, at the same time, requesting services from Shelburne made her not want to provide them.
It was decided that the conversation would be continued regarding both a short-term contract and a long-term partnership.
Another issue that spurred much discussion, and caused Toni Supple to recuse herself due to the location of her property, was a proposal by residents to construct a primitive bike path between Pierson Drive and Hawley Road. While not a town project, the proposed project would be on town land.
It would also have the possibility of impacting a number of neighboring properties. Several homeowners spoke of their upset at only just learning of the project right before the meeting, and expressed the belief that many more of their neighbors would have been speaking against it if they, too, had known.
Bill Supple wondered what the environmental impact might be. He also questioned the impact on parking in the culs-de-sac, suggesting that people are likely to drive their cars to the trail, park and then go bicycling. He also pointed to security and privacy concerns for properties along the trail.
Barbara Glade, who has called the cul-de-sac home for 50 years, said that she lives where she does due to the quiet. She added that she does not personally know anyone affected who is in favor of the trail.
Proponents, including three young girls, spoke of how kids would be able to bicycle to school and to visit friends. One girl said that this would keep children from “sitting on their phones” all day and to get out into nature.
Crime within the town was another issue addressed at the meeting. More specifically, Town Manager Joe Colangelo spoke of the upswing of calls to police from Harbor Place in 2014.
“Clearly, more town resources are going to Harbor Place than last year at this time,” Colangelo said.
While Colangelo did not give specifics on number of calls or types of incidents, he did say that the increase has been “significant.”
One of the steps that Lake Champlain Housing Trust, which runs Harbor Place, is taking is working with Vermont Agency of Human Services (AHS) so that sex offenders may no longer be housed there.
The next meeting of the Selectboard is on June 24.
By Heather McKim