Selectboard moves to replace some street lights

By Heather McKim

The July 9 meeting of the Shelburne Selectboard focused on issues of street lights, extending police services to a neighboring town, and one possible way to address school-related traffic.

Town Manager Paul Bohne gave an update on the waterline project. He said that it is nearing completion and should be finished up in approximately two weeks.

Board members considered repealing the existing policy that governs placement of street lights within the town of Shelburne. After some debate, members approved the repeal.

The Board then moved on to consider approving a policy governing the reinstallation of street lights in locations where they existed prior to Jan. 26, 2010.

As members debated how things would play out regarding the relighting of neighborhoods that had lights removed, Chair Tim Pudvar said, “[I think] a lot of this is going to work its way out.”

“You don’t want to pit neighbor against neighbor,” Supple said. She advocated giving “double the vote” to those immediately adjacent to the lights.

Bohne agreed with Supple adding, “I believe there needs to be more direction from the Board on this.”

Member Gary von Stange stated that he disagreed that this was the right way to go about things. He said that there should be a policy in place and that the budget for street lights needed to be assessed.

“It means nothing to say we’re going to put in 80 lights but only have $20,000,” von Stange said.

Approximately 110 street lights had been removed in what quickly came to be a controversial move. Member Al Gobeille said that the estimated cost to replace the street lights would be $100,000 and that there is currently $20,000 in the budget slated for street lights.

Gobeille said that he wanted to move forward with the $20,000 worth of lights. It was decided this would be the course of action.

Members then considered whether the town should provide limited police services to the neighboring town of St. George, which approached the town about providing an hour or so of policing each week for a total of 50 hours during the year. Shelburne would be compensated at a rate of $50 per hour plus a charge for the car.

The arrangement would be in the same vein as the one that currently exists with Charlotte—an arrangement that the Board expressed a desire to review next January during budget discussions.

“If you approve them, they need to know that this is a one-year deal and may not be renewed another year,” Bohne said.

Gobeille voiced his disapproval of the current arrangement that sees the Shelburne police department acting as the regional police. “We allow the Charlotte Selectboard to sleep well at night, and I don’t think that’s financially fair,” he said.

“We have 7,200 people… and spend $1.2 million… and they [Charlotte] have the [benefit of our full-time service] without paying for it,” von Stange said.

The service provided to St. George would not detract from coverage in Shelburne. Police would essentially be doing a quick “swing by” the town during the course of their normal patrols.

The Board voted to approve providing service to St. George.

Members also discussed having a police officer directing traffic at the intersection of the Shelburne Community School circle with Harbor Road.

As part of the recent scoping study, the issue of the school-related traffic was raised. This issue was then studied to see if the presence of a police officer would improve the traffic flow.

Bohne said that the study showed that traffic flowed better without an officer’s presence.

However, there are still hundreds of cars going in and out of the school to drop off and pick up students—a number close to the number of students who attend the school.

“This is why I never vote for school buses,” Allison Cranmer said.

“I think that’s telling evidence for traffic. What about safety?” von Stange said.

There have been no real safety issues. No children have been struck by automobiles, nor has there been an issue with car accidents there.

Already, the town has activated crossing lights and raised sidewalks and radar to help with both safety and traffic issues.

Given the findings of the study and no obvious safety benefit, the Board voted against having assigning a police officer.

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