Public safety an issue at Selectboard meeting

By Heather McKim

The April 23 Selectboard meeting addressed issues of conservation, public safety, and a possible addition to the town’s recreational options among others. While the Loop Road was not on the agenda, it too was briefly mentioned.

Board member Toni Supple praised a previous meeting’s Stantec presentation. The presentation addressed the Loop Road and its other options.

Supple was surprised that the firm had indicated that neither the Loop Road nor the “Five Corners” option would relieve traffic but would instead help development. She added that the firm expressed that the Loop Road was something the Selectboard had urged.

Member Gary von Stange agreed that Stantec had characterized the Loop Road as something the previous Selectboard had urged. He did not vote in favor of the study, which he felt was inappropriately approved when it wasn’t on the meeting’s agenda.

Town manager Paul Bohne addressed this issue. He said that he and Town Planner Dean Pierce had spoken with consultants after the special meeting. He felt the depiction of the Selectboard “urging” a Loop Road was a misrepresentation.

Though not a decision item, a town swimming pool was also discussed. This was a follow-up to a presentation by Rayne Herzog in December when he had pitched the idea of a town swimming pool carrying an estimated initial price tag of $3 million.

Betsy Cieplicki, Director of Parks and Recreation, addressed the idea of a pool. “Rayne came and gave a very nice presentation, but it was his idea,” Cieplicki said noting that if the idea is to be given consideration, it needs to be based on the community’s wants and needs.

Cieplicki voiced opposition to destroy the town athletic fields in order to build a pool. She also expressed concerns about whether the project would be financially sustainable.

“There are many things going on in this town right now… A pool is a want, not a need,” Cieplicki said adding that similar projects in other towns have cost over $10 million.

“This is not an expense I’m in any way interested in [at this time],” Von Stange said. The sentiment was echoed by Supple.

Chair Tim Pudvar noted that he is less concerned about the upfront cost than the ongoing burden of maintenance.

Representative Kate Webb presented details and current status and impact of House bill H-526, which deals with shoreland protection. The presentation was part of a campaign to spread word about the bill, which will be taken up by the senate after the summer.

As it is, the bill would have no direct impact on the town of Shelburne because it already has shoreland protection in place. The same is true of Colchester.

Webb explained that H-526 only addresses new development.

“The focus of this bill was the 80 percent of shoreland that is graded as poor,” Webb said. Find the bill as it stands at www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/bills/House/H-526C.pdf.

Finance Director Peter Frankenburg gave a presentation on the third quarter General Fund operating budget status. He noted that, “Overall there are some plusses and minuses with the budget [but nothing significant except for the Wake Robin decision].”

Board members decided to establish a Tree Advisory Committee, which was described by Von Stange as “overdue.” Members will be appointed at a later date.

Board members also had the first reading to consider enacting an ordinance that would provide the town control over the placement of recreational structures like basketball hoops and hockey nets within the town right of way. Currently, the town has little recourse for roadway hazards like basketball hoops and other recreational items that partially obstruct the road.

The issue was pushed to the forefront by an incident with one resident. When confronted about her basketball hoop being a public safety hazard and asked to move it to a safer alternative location, she refused.

The Board will move ahead with a second reading of the ordinance, which will constitute a hearing, at the May 14 meeting. In the meantime, members will seek to better inform the public of the ordinance and the hazards that it seeks to address.

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