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Town and Village

Resilience plan slowly moves forward

PUTNEY—As part of the town’s ongoing process to implement a Hazard Mitigation Plan ["Meeting set to discuss proposed hazard mitigation plan,” Town & Village, April 8], Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard has been working to amass a Community Resilience Team.

For the Hazard Mitigation Plan [HMP], people are needed to help identify hazards and complete smaller projects, and Stoddard says that’s where the Community Resilience Team comes in. She mentioned recent appointees Amelia Struthers and state Rep. Mike Mrowicki, D-Putney.

Stoddard told the Selectboard at its April 8 meeting that she hopes to “find a few more people to be on the team” and may reach out to members of Putney’s ad hoc Energy Committee.

Her hope is to then step down from the Community Resilience Team.

“The team is more about actions,” Stoddard said. “I’d rather be the point-person.”

Sidewalk talk

Putney’s plan to construct sidewalks in the village continues.

The current project, “Phase 3,” brings sidewalks to the north end of town along Bellows Falls Road (Route 5) from the Putney Friends Meeting House to Landmark College, with a walking path on Vinegar Lane.

“We’re still in process of working out the right-of-way plans,” Stoddard told the Selectboard, noting “lots of back-and-forth” on easements with Corey Mack, the project engineer with the White River Junction office of RSG.

“It’s a lot of sit and wait,” she said, adding that she calls the state “every few days” to check on the progress.

She estimates construction to begin near the General Store probably in the summer.

One issue that arose was what to do about the utility pole in front of Basketville, Stoddard notes. Her meeting with Green Mountain Power and FairPoint Communications over the pole resulted in the decision to not move it, even though this will result in the town losing two street parking spaces.

“It’s too expensive to move the pole,” she said. “Plus, we’d need to move the pole across the street at Mountain Paul’s, as well as move an anchor pole.”

There was also a question about the cost of moving the pole and whether it was included in the sidewalk project budget.

“Who’s going to pay for this?” Stoddard asked.

Abandonment issues

Selectboard chair Steve Hed reported on his conversation with Erich Kruger of Deconstruction Works about possibly removing the abandoned house at 15 Gassets Rd. [“Town moves closer to razing abandoned building,” Town & Village, April 1].

“Erich says [the house] is too far gone for him to deal with,” says Hed.

Hed reports he conducted a site visit on the house and determined “there’s a crawl space, but no basement,” thus ruling out the possibility of encouraging the house to collapse in on itself, falling into the cellar hole.

“If it falls down, it will fall on Gassets Road [a private road] and not fall on East Putney Falls Road,” Hed says. Still, the Selectboard recognized this presented a public safety issue.

Stoddard says she sent a certified letter to the owner, and it was “picked up and signed for,” but not by the person listed on town records as the owner of the property. She also noted the taxes are delinquent on the property, but not for long enough to demand a tax sale.

But what about the children?

Hed reported hearing from the Putney Public Library that too many Middle School children were coming to the library weekday afternoons from about 3 to 5 p.m.

“They want the kids there,” Hed reports the library staff saying, “but they aren’t equipped to monitor so many of them.”

Hed assured the Selectboard “these are good kids, and they’re conscious of other library patrons, but they need a better place to hang out.” Stoddard added that when she recently had lunch with the Middle School students, they told her they needed a place to hang out after school.

Selectboard Clerk Scott Henry added the kids needed “minimal supervision,” to which Hed added, “they just need to let off steam,” and Stoddard agreed “they aren’t doing anything wrong.”

Noting it is not exactly a school issue, since the kids come to the library after school has already ended, Hed asked the Selectboard for guidance on how to proceed. Some ideas he had were meeting with local parents, the Parent-Teacher Organization [PTO], or the Community Center’s organizers.

Henry suggested that there is plenty of physical space in town, mentioning the Activities Barn at Putney Cares, the Community Center, school gyms, and the Putney Fire Station.

“It’s a community responsibility,” Stoddard said of needing a safe, social space for local youth, to which Henry replied, “it happens at every generation.”

Other business

• The Fiscal Year 2016 contract with Rescue, Inc. was approved at Town Meeting last month, and Stoddard told the Selectboard it “just needed a motion for [us] to enter into the contract.” The Selectboard made, and unanimously passed, this motion.

• Daniel Hoviss stepped down from the Energy Committee, and the Selectboard seeks to fill the position he vacated. The first meeting of this Ad Hoc committee is April 28 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

• In the financial status report, Stoddard notes the town “is $11,000 over on the winter budget,” mostly owing to fuel and equipment maintenance. She said she didn’t think the overage was too bad, considering the long, cold winter.

• Stoddard reported that she is in the process of writing a structures grant to repair the culvert on Hickory Ridge Road. “It’s a big one,” she said, and will necessitate a hydraulic study. “It’s been 10 years since Putney received a structures grant” from the Vermont Agency of Transportation, “so we’re next in line.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #301 (Wednesday, April 15, 2015). This story appeared on page D3.

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