Welcome back to iBrattleboro.com Tuesday, November 21 2017 @ 03:11 PM GMT+4  
Home |  Directory |  Contact | 
Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting    
Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 12:46 AM GMT+4
Contributed by: Lise

Town NewsJuly 7, 2009 - The storm gods were in evidence and so was the influence of this morning’s full moon if the passion of the evening’s Selectboard Meeting participants was any indication. Thunder rumbled, rain poured down, and citizens rose in a steady wave to express their concerns about a succession of possible board actions.

Young people from town pleaded their cause and said they are still being targeted by police. The owner of Alici’s was very upset about his banned sandwich board. Downtown merchants were supportive of the young people but majorly against the board’s initiative to institute Sunday parking enforcement. And finally, advocates of the West River Park project, who were just denied by the DRB, were very anxious that the Selectboard allow them to resubmit an amended application rather than just canceling the project as some on the board were threatening to do (spoiler alert: the board approved it but barely).

In between they held impenetrable discussions about the wastewater treatment plant upgrade and agreed to pay Hoyle and Tanner some more money. The issue that got the most play was whether or not to hire a person from Hoyle and Tanner to oversee their own project on behalf of the town or to hire an independent person to do the town’s oversight. Even Gene Forbes of Hoyle and Tanner said that it would be a good idea for the town to have their own person but there seemed to be some confusion about just how many hired overseers they were talking about and in the end it was two, not one, both of whom had to be paid, and so it went.

Preliminary Remarks

Chair Jesse Corum remarked that the July 4 festivities went very well and were injury free with great weather. He congratulated police, fire, and recreation staff and said it had been a great day. John Allen thanked Public Works for their “help with the float.”

Town Manager Barb Sondag announced that the Town didn’t get any of the money it applied for to do the Main Street sidewalks project.

Jesse - This means we won’t be doing the downtown sidewalk from Wells Fountain to Malfunction Junction after all.

Barb - Not all at once, anyway.

Public Participation - Solid Waste Management District

Jane Southworth - I have a report which I’ll leave with you. Windham Solid Waste Management District is recalibrating. They have been going since 1988 and now need tweaking in light of the budget crisis and the surcharge issue. This report gives a history of services they provide — which are considerable — if we didn’t have them, we’d have to do all state requirements ourselves. So as part of the District, we get their services. It includes a summary of finances, current operations, staff and discussion on work going on in policy and planning. All their meetings are open to public.

The new Solid Waste Plan is on their web site.

Public Participation - Youth In Brattleboro

A number of young people took the mic to tell their stories of what they see as unfair and harassing behavior by the police downtown. A number of business owners also spoke impromptu in their defense. Town Manager Barb Sondag said that young people should know that the town has decided to enforce everything in an effort to get to harder criminals and that they will continue to enforce everything until the “problem is under control.”

Cal Glover Wessel - I represent a large number of young people. Last Friday, we were wasting our time at the Transportation Center. An officer of the law approached and asked us to move. We had a discussuion about the ordinance and what it boiled down to was that quite literally we’re not allowed to stop moving at any time in Brattleboro. We could not take a break at any point or sit on benches for any period of time. Was he wrong or did he misunderstand the ordinance? I want to know the details regarding this ordinance, and if what I was told is not what’s written, then there should be a discussion with the police department on how they are enforcing it.

Round of applause

Jesse - I’ll take this up with Chief Wrinn and find out what’s going on.

Scott Dixon - On the skateboard ordinance - I’d like to see if any discussion or compromise can be had to change the wording— I know skateboards can be annoying but for me it’s the most positive thing I’ve done in my life. It’s helped me control my anger and stop drinking. But now, I can’t ride from here to there without fear of being arrested by the police and taken to jail. Being stopped by police has happened to me and others. I know you want an appealing and safe business district, but I’m part of the business district too. I work in a downtown bookstore. I was late to work one day this spring because I was stopped by police on my way to work, and then had to walk in. I was told never to be found skateboarding again. I wish it could be reworded - it would be beneficial for parents and kids, a very positive thing.

More applause

Ian Bigelow - Skateboarding is at this point as much a sport as biking. Lots of people bike. Many places in country have no problem with skateboarding. I don’t understand why it’s seen as such a problem here. We should do something about that. These complaints about reaction of police saying that people can’t sit in places like benches which are meant for sitting or stoops in front of closed shops — people like to sit.

People come to Brattleboro because there is culture, and we’re part of that culture. We should embrace that, not tell them to move along. People have a right to be there. It’s gone over the top. To many of us it’s become like a police state, totalitarian, you can’t do anything but shop and if you don’t have any money then you can’t be here. Absurd.

Jesse - We hear you loud and clear. Skateboard facility would help immensely. Appreciate you coming forward. We’ve heard you loud and clear. Thanks.

Nancy Braus - I’m way too old to skateboard, but I have to say I see it on Elliot all the time — the harassment. The problem isn’t the skateboard people. Drugs are the problem and alcoholics — like the one who broke my window — but I want to support these young people. They aren’t the problem. Go after hard drugs and heavy duty alcoholics on Elliot.

Dora - Thank you for coming and speaking out. I’ve been concerned with the reaction. I understand that police have been getting lots of complaints from merchants. Brattleboro was just named a cool, hip place to visit and part of that is the culture Ian is talking about. We need to deal with real crimes but not tell someone they can’t sit on a bench if they’re not doing anything or causing damage. We’re a cool, hip town and need cool, hip solutions. I’m concerned about reactionary language, including merchants at the meeting last week. People are being lumped together but there’s a lot of different people involved in this. I talked to a former reporter, and he said he’d never known a town that hated its kids as much as Brattleboro and that concerns me. We need to find a way to let kids skateboard even on the street, and work together to have a dialog.

Applause

Barb - I hear what you’re saying but what would you like us to do? Please let me speak. As I hear stories retold, they’re from one person’s point of view, like just sitting on a bench, but the question is how many, were you blocking — we’ve heard stories of people blocking, sitting on stoops during business hours. We’re talking about mutual respect. It’s unfortunate for citizens to expect police to enforce mutual respect.

There are places where people can skateboard. A skateboard park won’t help a person using skateboard for transportation. Some things will be difficult to resolve. If I’m on Main Street, there’s parked cars and trucks. Is it fair to let skateboarders ride there? Let’s look at the policy with representatives from the skateboard community to see how hard it is to do this safely. Help us figure out where it is safe to ride. Not fair for people to skateboard where it isn’t safe.

The other issue is what officers have been asked to do. People say get drug dealers and people who are really drunk. Wouldn’t it be great if officers could just do that. One way to do this is to enforce everything. We’re not going to look the other way on some things, we’re going to enforce them all and that is how we’re going now. That’s the way to get some of the drug dealers and drunks, how to clean it up. It’s unfortunate that some will be swept up with them.

I recommend staying away from downtown on skateboards because they are enforcing all laws and until the problem is under control, that’s the way we’re going to address it. Downtown is also residential so we have to balance those issues as well. I hear you but I’m not unrealistic that the skateboard park will solve the problem. That’s not what people are saying. They’re saying that skateboard is mode of transportation.

I can work on a change to that ordinance if you want.

Dora - I would love for you to work on that ordinance.

_+_

Barbara Holliday said that kids just need a place to go while Martha O’Connor said that while she appreciated what people were saying, they should not do it in private parking lots. A parking lot is a parking lot, she said. She said that people had to help the Selectboard find a place for the skateboard park and that police officers were just trying to help.

She also said unequivocally that Brattleboro was not unfriendly to young people, and that “we pay more for parks and rec in this town....” She said she would speak with the former reporter who had purportedly made the remark.

Jane Southworth suggested a task force to discuss “where a kid can go outside that isn’t prohibited.” The owner of Verde’s said that occasional problems notwithstanding, she felt it was important to “include and support these young people as part of our culture and part of our town.’

Said one young man as the discussion wound down “We need to be part of the dialog. We’re not a problem to be solved.”

Barb Sondag asked interested parties to provide her with contact information if they would like to be part of the dialog to come.

Public Participation: Alici’s

The owner of Alici’s Restaurant, which is way off Main St at the foot of Harris Place, was upset because the Zoning Administrator had threatened to fine him for having his sandwich board out near Main St. He said that other merchants on Main Street are allowed sandwich boards, even out at the edge of the street, and no one stops them. He said he felt singled out by this enforcement against his signboard.

Alici: I do my best but I feel discriminated against. My hours of operation were restricted right away. My restaurant is in the urban district where none of this is required but still there are special rules for my business. But I tried my best — now my sandwich board is a huge thing — now they are going to fine me $100 a day for the sign. And yet I see empty shops on Main Street popping up like mushrooms — you need to support small business.

The problem with Alici’s sign, according to Town Attorney Bob Fisher, is that it isn’t located on his premises. Alici said the ordinance didn’t say anything about that.

Dick DeGray asked what could be done to help Mr. Alici. Fisher said Alici could apply to the Development Review Board for permission to have a sandwich board. He would have to pay notice of violation or appeal the decision. If he does neither, the town can start fining him. Fisher said this wasn’t town ordinance but state billboard law. Mr. Alici said he’d rather engage in his passion — cooking — than spend all this time getting permission for a sandwich board. “I came to this country for freedom but we’re not free,” he said.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade

First there was a public hearing to comply with federal funding requirements brought on by the fact that the new plant will increase flow of so-called high strength waste (from food production facilities such as the cheese factory) by 30%. The hearing was on the environmental impact of this increase. There was no comment at the meeting but the public can weigh in by contacting State Environmental Engineer Tom Joslin at 802-241-3740. Comment period ends July 18.

Then they had the clerk of the works discussion. It emerged toward the end that the board was under the impression that the so-called Resident Project Representative (a Hoyle Tanner engineer who sees to it that the project is constructed according to the design specifications) was the same as a so-called clerk of the works, which is a town hired individual who represents the town at meetings, approves change orders and the like.

For a long time, the town pondered whether to hire their own oversight person or use Hoyle and Tanner’s Resident Project Representative (RPR). Gene Forbes of Hoyle and Tanner and Sondag, who were apparently thinking more about the RPR job, thought a Hoyle Tanner person should do it. But Dick and Dora were still keen on actual, town-representing oversight. Finally, Gene Forbes said that for that, the town should hire their own person who would represent the town exclusively and not oversee the actual construction process as an RPR would.

Dick was dismayed at this because he realized that the town would have to hire people for both positions, not just the one as they had originally thought.

The board voted 5-0 to hire Hoyle Tanner to be the RPR contractor for phase 1 and to talk some more about a town representative to provide oversight, routine approvals, and the like.

There was another engineering agreement in which the town agreed to pay Hoyle Tanner another $12,000 to handle the bid process for the upcoming phase one RBC unit project.

And the town revealed that it needed to replace a failed backup generator for the Spring Street Pump station. They are currently renting a 90 kw backup for $850 a week and would like to buy it for $23,000. The Selectboard approved the purchase and hoped that it could somehow be rolled into the cost of the wastewater upgrade project since it would have been replaced anyway.

Arts, Taxes and Grants

Here are a bunch of unrelated items:

The board approved the Arts Committee’s Public Art Policy after it was changed to meet Jesse Corum’s objections.

The new municipal tax rates were approved. Martha O’Connor was unhappy to learn that the residential combined tax rate will go up 10 cents or $100 for every $100,000 worth of home value.

Landlord Jason Cooper got a $25,000 Rental Housing Improvement Loan to install a pellet boiler in a building at 131 Elliot. Dick said the committee approved this one enthusiastically, and that the boiler would actually heat two buildings owned by Cooper that are across the street from each other.

The Police Department got $32,000 for increased DUI patrols on routes 5, 9, and 30.

The town’s Aquatic Nuisance Grant of $2162 was approved. Martha and Jesse had concerns about oversight of the money. Barb assured them that Patricia from the Finance Department would provide all needed oversight.

There was audible thunder outside just as the board got to the $50,000 grant to do a study about how to fix Crosby Brook which according to Sondag is “an impaired waterway.” She said that if it wasn’t fixed it would also impair development on Putney Road.

The Justice Center got their annual operating grant from the Vermont Department of Corrections of $80,000. It was not as much as they asked for but the same as last year.

Parks and Recreation were approved to buy a $29,000 mowing, blowing, raking tractor. DeGray wondered why the town was making capital purchases when they hadn’t collected any tax revenue yet. Finance Director John Leisenring said that they had the cash flow so it was no problem to make the purchase now. “The fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30,” he said.

Free Parking On Sundays

The plan was to revise the parking ordinance to raise rates and add Sunday parking enforcement as a way to close a shortfall in the parking budget. Dick DeGray spearheaded the initiative. Downtown merchants were dead set against it.

Nancy Braus of Everyone’s Books said that our parking would be higher than Burlington and Northampton with this increase. She said a better way to get money would be to enforce running of stop lights with surveillance cameras. But she said, Sunday is a day for relaxing and taking your time. She said her customers would be annoyed by this change.

Dart Everett also opposed the measure on behalf of Centre Congregational Church.

Felicia from Coffee Country said that people like to come down and hang out on Sundays and that charging for parking would discourage them. She felt that later hours for parking enforcement would cause problems for restaurants and that in this economy, it was a bad move to raise parking rates.

Alison McCray said that she had surveyed 22 merchants downtown and only found 2 in favor with 2 neutral and another 18 against the proposal. She wondered if some sort of metered parking system might help prevent tickets. She said public lots needed better signage and that she would be willing to join a committee to work on these problems.

Bob Woodworth of Burrow’s Specialized Sports said that he was one of the two who favored the change saying that too many people hogged spaces on Sunday and that charging for parking would encourage people to move along.

Dick DeGray said that he didn’t want to do this but he had to because parking is “an enterprise fund” and has to support itself. “This is stricty a monetary issue.” he said. “I don’t sit around at night thinking of ways to charge the people of Brattleboro more money.”

John Allen declared himself to be “on the other side of what he just said” and suggested that the town get rid of the parking enterprise fund. “Get rid of paying for parking,” he said.

A number of other ideas were floated including resident stickers and special parking fees for tourists.

Dick said the Transportation Center parking garage had to be maintained and the loan paid off.

Martha moved to strike the Sunday parking language from the ordinance and it was approved by a vote of 3-2 with Dick and Jesse against.

The West River Park Project

As reported previously, the Development Review Board denied the town’s application to build a multi-use recreational facility at the West River site owned by Cersosimo Industries, citing a number of issues with the plan including traffic and pedestrian safety and environmental issues related to the shoreline buffer zone. Jesse Corum said that there were three options — drop the project, allow the town to resubmit the application with changes, or to appeal the DRB decision to State Environmental Court. He asked the committees for their input.

Speaking for both committees (the Field Space committee and the Recreation Board), Parks and Recreation Director Carol LaLotte said that they were “disappointed” by the denial. She said that in a nutshell, both committees wanted to re-tool the application and run it by the DRB again.

Not all members of the board were amenable to continuing the project. Dora Bouboulis and Martha O’Connor were against resubmitting the proposal, saying that the project now was not what Town Meeting reps had voted on. Dora also noted that the land itself was expensive at $250,000. John Allen said that to some extent, he viewed it as “throwing good money after bad” and “wondered if it was time to cut our losses.”

Members of the committee reminded the board that the original need had been for field space, not the skatepark, dog park, or community garden which would have to be cut to even hope for DRB approval. They encouraged the board to allow them to try again.

Dora reminded the committee members that there were more objections than just the skatepark and other add-ons, including traffic safety and concerns about encroachment into the shoreline buffer zone. A member of the public said that with only 2 playing fields possible on the West River property, there would still be a field space problem in Brattleboro even if the town did go ahead with the project.

Members of the committee declared themselves to be shocked that the board was considering cancelling the project. Indeed, it looked very dismal for the West River Park’s prospects until one committee member called John Allen to task regarding his position against continuing, saying that he had talked to him a few weeks before and found him in favor. Allen said he had learned more in the intervening weeks and was still on the fence.

After considerable discussion, a vote was held and the West River Park people were given approval to resubmit their application to the DRB with changes. Dora and Martha were the two dissenting votes while John Allen voted yes with the majority.

Martin Suit Settled

At the very end of the meeting, the board voted to approve the settlement with former Chief of Police John Martin. Jesse and Dora abstained, and paying the deductible to the insurance company passed with John, Dick, and Martha’s three affirmative votes.

 

What's Related

Story Options
  • Printable Story Format

  • Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting | 41 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they may say.
    Move along
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 04:52 AM GMT+4
    We're not allowed to sit on benches now? Or is that just if we're between the ages of 12 and 21? Interesting laws we turn out to have here.

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Move along
    Authored by: KarlB on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 05:13 PM GMT+4
    just stand up, and lean on something every now and then and then they have nothing to complain about...

    we should all have a "stand in" day and just stand around... then technically we're not loitering, we're just moving incredibly slowly towards our destination...
    Update
    Authored by: cgrotke on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 08:46 AM GMT+4
    According to Bob Audette, the Martin settlement was $275,000.
    Update
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 09:16 AM GMT+4
    I wonder how much I could get the town to "settle" with me for over the lack of due process regarding my property tax bill. Taking my property without due process! You guys are just doing that because it pleases your political allies!

    What a ridiculous lawsuit.

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Update
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 09:36 AM GMT+4
    The board has no backbone.

    ---
    We Rock!
    Update
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 09:50 AM GMT+4
    I am guessing they weighed the legal fees against the settlement and favored the settlement. Not that we'll ever know, because presumably this is the "legal matter" that initiated the executive session a couple weeks ago. However, it sets a very scary precedent if you can't fire employees without getting sued just for firing them. He didn't even try a discrimination suit or anything. Just went straight for due process. So what's the takeaway here? Towns can't fire people without proving they are slackers in a court of law? It's ridiculous.

    My comment is not about the job performance of person who was fired, as I don't know enough to decide whether he should have been. It's true that it was a highly politicized situation, and so very difficult for someone from outside to see it clearly. But his immediate supervisors should be able to fire him with cause, without it becoming a legal situation.

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Upchuck
    Authored by: annikee on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 10:51 AM GMT+4
    We always pay off those we fire here. Sometimes, we pay them to leave without getting fired.

    ---
    Freedom and fear are natural enemies.

    Believing gossip is worse than spreading it.
    Upchuck
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 11:15 AM GMT+4
    As they used to say in the army: F*@k up, move up.

    ---
    We Rock!
    Update
    Authored by: annikee on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 10:42 AM GMT+4
    Thanks for another outstanding report on the SB meeting.

    With every passing meeting, I am more boggled by things they do.This is the whackiest SB yet. Dick says he's not thinking of new ways to get money out of us, but it sure looks that way. Every month there are new restrictions and fines attached, something inevitably comes up about parking fees/fines, and one scheme after another. If Dick isn't thinking them up, who is?

    So no new sidewalks, either. After all that sturm und drang, a fizzle.

    And what about the Union Station Project? Is that buried and gone?

    Did nobody bring the idea of using the top levels of the parking garage for skateboarding at some designated times?

    And as ever, Gods bless Ian Bigelow.

    ---
    Freedom and fear are natural enemies.

    Believing gossip is worse than spreading it.
    Update
    Authored by: JoanneN on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 11:14 AM GMT+4
    I agree Ian is a wonderful person who seems to really care about this town and the people in it!

    ---
    People who fight fire with fire usually end up
    with ashes.
    ~Abigail Van Buren

    To love a person is to learn the song that is in
    their heart and to
    si
    On your mark, get set: precedent!
    Authored by: pjmelton on Friday, July 10 2009 @ 11:29 AM GMT+4
    When I read about the Martin settlement, the eventual outcome seemed obvious: he would say he had been vindicated and that the firing was wholly political, thus setting a precedent for any future town employee who is fired for cause and wants to get an insurance-funded "severance package."

    Now I read at the Reformer (http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_12791622) that Martin says, "When you're talking more than a quarter of a million dollars, it sends a clear message that my firing was without merit." I was also struck by this: " Neither town administrators nor the Selectboard had any comment on the settlement."

    Why not? This is a dangerous precedent, and there needs to be a loud and clear message on how and why this decision was made. Otherwise, the precedent runs away with us, and the next time we need to fire someone, it is that much harder.

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR

    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: JoanneN on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 10:08 AM GMT+4
    It seems like nothing really got done about the crackdown at all. They are just going to keep doing it including not being allowed to sit on benches. They admitted it would take away the feeling of this town but than went back to saying we are going tot keep doing it. I guess I will have to keep boycotting than.

    ---
    People who fight fire with fire usually end up
    with ashes.
    ~Abigail Van Buren

    To love a person is to learn the song that is in
    their heart and to
    si
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: Truman on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 12:04 PM GMT+4
    Freedom isn't about being able to do EVERYTHING you want. That would be foolish.

    Sit on a stoop and leave butts and trash on it? Not okay with me unless you own that stoop. Same for setting up a day-long campout on one particular bench. What about the rights of the building owners, or the people who pay HUGE rents for those storefronts? What about the person who'd like to stop for a rest on a bench, but it's always got the same butts on it, day in and day out.

    It's not about refusing to let people sit down. It's about plain old manners. In someone's way? Apologise and move. Sitting on the only bench around? Get off it once in awhile. I don't think its unreasonable for store-owners to want to discourage groups of people from hanging out in their doorways. Sales is about presentation, and you can't see in their windows or get in their doors if there's a group in the way. The problem is, too many people have an unearned sense of entitlement--if it's there, it's theirs. Hey, who says I can't stand here all day if I want to? Who says I can't yell obscenities at people as they walk by? Who says I can't leave food and other garbage for someone else to clean up? It seems that LOTS of people are saying you can't now.

    I agree that there are big problems with drugs and alcohol downtown, but the little problems need to be dealt with too. They've been let "go" too long.

    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: JoanneN on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 12:34 PM GMT+4
    I worked in one of those stores on Elliot and any kid or adult who sat down if asked politely to move because the store was still open did so and said they were sorry and moved on. Rarely did that even happen while were open anyways. Afterwards yes they would crowd on the stoop and hang out I did it myself a few times in the evening while eating a burritto from the cart.

    I came here for the atmosphere of being able to hang out and enjoy the downtown myself along with adults, youth and skateboarders alike. I myself plan to own a business in the future if all goes well in the next year.

    THe last time I did go downtown it felt dead and the life seemed to be drained out of it. I talked ot afew others that said it felt the same way and asked me where all the people were that used to hang about in Harmony and such. When I told them what was going on they were horrified and upset.

    I have lived in towns on the Cape that did this sort of thing and ended up with a very sterile feel to it instead of the charm it originally had. These same towns have had a reduction in their economy not long after they made these sort of ordinances to clean up the streets by getting rid of youth, musicians , etc. Once the tourists left no one was shopping because they all got kicked out of town. Not to mention no employees to work for anyone either.

    These are the people that make a town what it is. If you get rid of them to get rid of crime you are going to end up with nothing at all.

    As for the benches I use those benches sometimes to relax or just hang out there are usually plenty more for anyone else to do the same. Sometimes i go sit on one with my daughter while having some Ice Cream and other times i might sit and read a book for a bit and enjoy the atmosphere of the town.

    I am just going about in circles at this point though. I am still boycotting downtown businesses until this all stops and I am not the only one that is doing so.

    ---
    People who fight fire with fire usually end up
    with ashes.
    ~Abigail Van Buren

    To love a person is to learn the song that is in
    their heart and to
    si
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: JoanneN on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 12:37 PM GMT+4
    by the way I do not think leaving trash on these stoops is OK or yelling swear words and such either. I just do not believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    ---
    People who fight fire with fire usually end up
    with ashes.
    ~Abigail Van Buren

    To love a person is to learn the song that is in
    their heart and to
    si
    Bathwater Ordinance
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 01:15 PM GMT+4
    "I just do not believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater."

    Apparently you are not familiar with the Bathwater Ordinance, which states that "Whenever bath water (comprising water used to wash or rinse any human or animal body part, not to include dish water, toilet water, laundry water or other types of gray or black water) is thrown out within the Downtown Business District, a human child no less than one day old and no more than 729 days old (hereafter referred to as "the Baby") must heretofore be thrown out therewith." etc.

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Bathwater Ordinance
    Authored by: annikee on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 02:54 PM GMT+4
    LMAO!

    ---
    Freedom and fear are natural enemies.

    Believing gossip is worse than spreading it.
    Bathwater Ordinance
    Authored by: KlangenFarben on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 03:50 PM GMT+4
    Brilliant.
    The unusual crime of bench hogging
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 12:38 PM GMT+4
    ***What about the person who'd like to stop for a rest on a bench, but it's always got the same butts on it, day in and day out.***
    Apparently nobody's butt is allowed on benches anymore, whether your butt would like to rest for awhile, or your butt threatens the fabric of society by racking up too much bench time.

    ***It's not about refusing to let people sit down.***
    Let's hope you're right, however:

    "Last Friday, we were wasting our time at the Transportation Center. An officer of the law approached and asked us to move. We had a discussuion about the ordinance and what it boiled down to was that quite literally we’re not allowed to stop moving at any time in Brattleboro. We could not take a break at any point or sit on benches for any period of time."

    ---
    We Rock!
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 01:06 PM GMT+4
    Where did the obscenities and cigarette butts come into this discussion?

    We are talking about a person who was hanging out at the Transportation Center. That is not the front stoop of anything except the empty office where you pay parking fines. No one was yelling. The officer apparently told him that the loitering laws end up meaning that you basically can't sit down.

    I suspect that only ends up being true if you are between the ages of 12 and 21. Have you ever heard of anyone else being moved along?

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Clerk of the Works
    Authored by: cgrotke on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 11:54 AM GMT+4
    I was surprised to see the Selectboard confused about hiring a Clerk of
    the Works to handle the Wastewater Treatment Project. It seemed like
    such a simple and necessary thing to do.

    In my experience, when there is a big project for an organization to
    do, it is good to hire or appoint someone to be the point person - a
    clerk of the works. Some might call the job a project manager.

    When we did the Estey Preserve America Project, we hired Carol
    Barber to be our clerk of the works. She stayed in touch with
    contractors, made sure we and they hit deadlines, made sure bills got
    paid and requirements were checked off. She helped schedule
    meetings, keep track of progress, and oversaw the project.

    That isn't to say she replaced the expertise of those we hired. She
    was OUR trusted point person and kept things running smoothly.

    Last night, it appeared that the board thought it best to hire the
    engineers doing the project to perform these duties. Only at the end
    of a long discussion did they realize that they, too, would need
    someone to handle things for the Town.

    Both the engineers and the DPW tried to explain this to them - that a
    point person was needed on the town side to handle the town's
    involvement.

    The Selectboard seemed to confuse this with engineering oversight,
    and worried that we wouldn't be able to find a team of experts to
    double-check all of Hoyle and Tanner's work. They voted to give
    Hoyle and Tanner more money rather than hire the internal point
    person, even as Hoyle and Tanner was saying it was important for
    them to have someone themselves and that they might not apply if
    an RFP is sent out.

    Expertise in managing a big project, plus skillful communication,
    budget-watching and schedules, seem to be the skills required for the
    Town if they decide to hire someone at this end.
    Clerk of the Works
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 01:17 PM GMT+4
    Yes, I have the feeling this is what Rich Garant was getting at: independent town oversight. Seems so long ago....

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: dwbarlow on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 06:37 PM GMT+4
    Wow! A random comment I made to a few people was mentioned in a Select Board meeting! Yeah, I'm the "former reporter" (former Brattleboro reporter, I guess) who made the comment about the town hating its youth.

    Perhaps I could have phrased it better, but I stand by the crux of the statement. It seems every summer Brattleboro has the "What are we going to do with all these young people?" conversation. I've heard it over and over again. And over and over again, the young people leave Brattleboro and the state.

    Martha, you know where to find me ... :)
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 07:03 PM GMT+4
    "It seems every summer Brattleboro has the "What are we going to do with all these young people?" conversation."

    Wow, we have that conversation in our house every summer too!

    Is there really any such thing as a "former reporter"?

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: dwbarlow on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 10:47 PM GMT+4
    Ha!

    And no - no such thing as a former reporter. Especially since I'm still doin' it!
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: pjmelton on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 09:10 AM GMT+4
    Being a reporter is more of a vocation than a job. For the good ones, anyway.

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: spoon on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 08:34 PM GMT+4
    Now now Dan. If you were writing an editorial on the youth problems here would you really charge that the town hated its young people? Do you think a town that cuts a very costly football program does so because it hates sports?

    You know why kids leave the town. There isn't a worthwhile job for them here. Or the field they want to be in has no future in a small burg like this. Or they have found this great big wide world irresistible and need to do some exploring. Or they found a lover at college who lives elsewhere. The fact is the population of Brattleboro has not been changing. So obviously for every person moving out another is moving in. Or being born here. True, the population is aging. But is the age distribution any different here than it is in the population at-large? And what would be the normal tilt for a town like ours that serves as the economic center of a much wider area, which is to say it is providing the services it should be providing for surrounding communities.

    Dan, Brattleboro doesn't hate kids and the twenty-somethings don't leave because they can't loll in the nude or skateboard in Harmony Lot.

    All that aside, it's good to hear from you and be reminded how much quality reporting you gave us.

    ---
    spoon agave
    Selectboard Meeting Notes- The Real Truth Comes Out
    Authored by: mr.mike on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 09:31 PM GMT+4
    <Dick DeGray asked what could be done to help Mr. Alici. Fisher said Alici could apply to the Development Review Board for permission to have a sandwich board. He would have to pay notice of violation or appeal the decision. If he does neither, the town can start fining him. Fisher said this wasn’t town ordinance but state billboard law. Mr. Alici said he’d rather engage in his passion — cooking — than spend all this time getting permission for a sandwich board. “I came to this country for freedom but we’re not free,” he said>

    I'm surprised no one picked up on this. Then again it's probably being avoided.

    I feel bad for Mr Alici. In his quest to find freedom in the U.S. he apparently stumbled across the Vermont State Motto. "Freedom and Unity". The poor guy. I don't know where he came from but I bet he didn't realize he was moving to a eastern soviet bloc country.

    He has become another victim of the states wielding of the billboard ordinance. Just like the owner of the barn in Bellows Falls last year. His last statement pretty much sums up the condition of our state and country. Funny how those that come here find we've lost something we don't even realize we ever had.

    ---
    If I could just spend more than I take in. You know ,like the government.
    Selectboard Meeting Notes- The Real Truth Comes Out
    Authored by: dwbarlow on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 10:45 PM GMT+4
    But remember: It was Republican State Rep. Ted Riehle who pushed for - and got his party behind - the idea of banning billboards in Vermont. That was 41 years ago.
    Bilboard
    Authored by: pjmelton on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 09:19 AM GMT+4
    I like the billboard law. It is so amazing to cross the border after a trip and just see the trees instead of a bunch of garish ads. As soon as you cross into NH, you start to see all these horrible signs for pawn shops and MacDonald's. Classy! If we give up the billboard law, we completely give up our tourist niche.

    Surely there is a way for someone to have a sandwich board a block away from his restaurant without blowing up an entire billboard law. But if you think in black and white, you don't go looking for these options, you just start cranking about the damned business-hating libruls. It may interest you to know, Mr. Mike, that before we moved here, half our grocery cart was filled with Vermont products every week. We lived in Washington, D.C. That tells me the state is doing something right for entrepreneurs. Things may happen more slowly, and businesses may pay more taxes, but those are usually good things. We attract the kinds of businesses that want to preserve what is good about our state and the people who live here, instead of exploiting it and then pulling out like a tom cat from his one-minute stand.

    The laws may not be perfect, but you don't need to use a nuclear bomb on them. You COULD have an actual discussion about what works and what doesn't, and then try to change what doesn't. I mean, one could.

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: dwbarlow on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 10:56 PM GMT+4
    That's all true too, Spoon.

    Thanks for the kind words - Brattleboro is still one of my favorite places in the world.
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Wednesday, July 08 2009 @ 11:00 PM GMT+4
    No doubt young people leave for a number of reasons, but if they were valued and welcome here, many would find just as many reasons to stay, and ways to make a succesful life here. It's pretty damn easy to leave Brattleboro when the town is literally telling you they don't want you here, and to please move along.

    Too bad Bratt can't do better.

    ---
    We Rock!
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: JoanneN on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 11:17 AM GMT+4
    Whne I was younger I did not stay somewhere due to jobs I stayed somewhere due to my friends and social activities more than work or even education. Even if there were more jobs in the area why would the youth want to stay someplace where they are not allowed to sit on a public bench or had some of their frist amendment rights taken from them. I certainly would not. I am not even considered a youth anymore and I do not wish to stay in this town if it keeps going on.

    ---
    People who fight fire with fire usually end up
    with ashes.
    ~Abigail Van Buren

    To love a person is to learn the song that is in
    their heart and to
    si
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: cgrotke on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 11:19 AM GMT+4
    Kids leave town because kids always leave town. We teach them to go
    and explore the world, learn, and make a mark.

    Do we worry equally about all the 30 year olds in big cities who decide
    they've had enough and move to small towns? (Does NYC worry about
    losing people to us?)

    Spoon left his high-school town. So did I. So did Dan, our Town
    Manager, members of the Selectboard, and many others.

    I'd find it odd if we all stayed where we began.
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 12:48 PM GMT+4
    Sure, some kids leave town, some don't. Often, those who leave come back to raise families. It's the same everywhere.

    But Brattleboro tells their kids to leave. Why would anyone come back to to raise their family here?

    The selectboard seems to be particularly outraged by kids and poor people. Brattleboro is on a path toward gentrification; a town of affluent, childless, semi-retired, ex-urbanite 50-somethings. There's nothing wrong with those folks as a part of the larger community, but after you've chased out the last kid with a skateboard or 20-something with a nose ring, that's all you'll have left.

    ---
    We Rock!
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: KlangenFarben on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 03:56 PM GMT+4
    No need to re-phrase--the Town, as represented by the Selectboard and the BPD, hates its youth more than any other place in America. (Toronto in the late 1970s was inhospitable to youth, but fortunately that has changed radically over the past three decades.)

    Sondag patently lied to the public when she said they were enforcing everything. Enforcement of moving violations which threaten pedestrian safety is quite absent.
    Selectboard Meeting Notes - Much Public Howling At Selectboard Meeting
    Authored by: pjmelton on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 04:38 PM GMT+4
    "Enforcement of moving violations which threaten pedestrian safety is quite absent."

    I don't know about absent, but there could certainly be more. And it would be a revenue source like you wouldn't believe. Forget about parking tickets at $8 a pop, or parking fe89es8 at 25 cent an hour. Someone runs an orange-to-red light every single time I am downtown. Which is an actual crime. There is also an insane amount of box-blocking and racing through crosswalks that have pedestrians in them (in front of the library, of all places, for example).

    I sincerely wouldn't mind a little more jaywalking enforcement too, in certain areas. You guys sauntering across the street in the middle of a left-turn light make us other pedestrians look really bad! It annoys drivers who then want to run down my kids in the next crosswalk up.

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    fe89es8
    Authored by: pjmelton on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 04:40 PM GMT+4
    Sorry, that was "fees." Along with cat feet.

    ---
    "Economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings." -- FDR
    Random Thoughts on Young People in Brattleboro
    Authored by: Lise on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 12:08 PM GMT+4
    I think I understand where Dan is coming from. I've also felt that there was a disconnect between what a great town Brattleboro is for kids growing up (nature, relaxed atmosphere, cool downtown) and how unhinged adults get every summer when young people come to play downtown.

    When I was a kid, we spent one summer in Rockport Mass. where my father was playing summer stock. Me and my brother, who were 8 and 10 respectively, went every day to walk through the gift shops on Bearskin Neck, their equivalent of Main St (albeit very touristy). Some of the shop keepers hated us but we went anyway, even though we never had a dime between us. We learned to be very quiet and not to touch anything.... Anyway, my point is -- kids love downtowns, the hustle and bustle, the bright shiny objects, the feeling of being in the middle of things. I would assume teens are no different -- they want to be where the action is.

    Downtown being the town center, it’s going to attract all kinds of people — good grownups and bad grownups, good kids and bad kids. That’s just the way it is. The good way outnumber the bad. I'm not sure it will help to sacrifice the good to get to the bad.

    Many people claim to have seen drug deals going down. That would imply that they know who the drug dealers are or could give a description. A lot of people have cell phones these days and a few calls to the police with descriptions might go a long way toward pressuring drug dealers to leave downtown....

    I worry also that all this focus on crime downtown may be encouraging some borderline kids (and maybe adults too) to cross the line into antisocial behavior, just because it now sounds cool and villainly. Sometimes people live up to expectations.

    Another thought — would smiling help? What if we just gave a big smile to any kid blocking our path? Would they growl or would they smile back and move? I’ve read that smiling is contagious — if you smile, the person you’re smiling at will, more often than not, smile back. It can be a tension breaker. Not that it will always work but it seems worth a try. If the person continues to be surly, you’ll at least know you have a genuine problem.

    Regardless of why young people leave Brattleboro — and I think Chris is right that it’s natural to want to see the world when you’re young — we should still try to remain friendly with our teens and twentysomethings... ;) They’re fun to have around and might even rise to the occasion if we stopped viewing them as scary monsters. Also, I’ve noticed that dress is no indicator of personality. Just because someone dresses different (“slovenly” was my parents’ word for teen attire in the 70s), doesn’t mean they’re bad. Kids dress like each other in the style of the day. They may look like bums to some adults but most of them are just dressing the way they dress.

    Sorry to go on like this. It’s a really complex issue and for some reason, it’s been nagging at me.

    Random Thoughts on Young People in Brattleboro
    Authored by: GSamson on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 06:10 PM GMT+4
    I have to say that most of the comments I've read in this thread
    strike me as much more indicative of the various commenters' biases
    than open-minded efforts to calmly look at the situation downtown
    and put it into some sort of perspective. I think I can say without
    much fear of contradiction that the number of kids/young adults who
    congregate downtown represents a tiny fraction of the number of kids
    who live in Brattleboro. We are talking about maybe 30 or 40 kids (I
    think that's a generous estimation) among at least a few thousand.
    This tells me a number of things:

    1. More than 99% percent of local kids manage to survive without
    spending lots of time hanging out downtown.

    2. The percentage of kids hanging out downtown is so marginal that
    these kids are, statistically speaking, outliers; in that regard, it is hard
    to see that their presence (and whatever problems they may cause)
    results from some sort of significant fault on the part of the Town of
    Brattleboro, the folks who administrate it, enforce its rules, etc; the
    reasons these kids are on the streets are much more likely to be quite
    varied and of an individual, psychological nature (in which case I
    wonder if we help them by legitimatizing the behavior and thus
    enabling it; what's great for building one's inner sense of counter-
    culture street cred may actually be hurting the kids in the long run).

    3. Even if one accepted the rather hysterical, fantastical notion that
    the town's administration and police are actively, continually harassing
    30 to 40 kids off the streets as fact, making the leap from that
    dubious "perception" to assert that "Brattleboro hates kids" is simply
    irrational. Again, the vast majority of kids survive, and even thrive
    around here without hanging out downtown, and I don't see how
    they'd thrive if indeed the town they lived in "hated" them. There are
    lots of ways to nurture kids besides turning a blind eye to a small
    group of kids who are acting out, and the fact that these ways of
    nurturing are occurring regularly and effectively in Brattleboro is easily
    demonstrated.
    follow-up
    Authored by: Lise on Friday, July 10 2009 @ 12:10 PM GMT+4
    Hyperbole is a rhetorical device used for emphasis and effect. I'm sorry
    now I quoted Dora and Martha on that one -- I realize now that was a
    mistake and allowed people to misread someone who wasn't even at the
    meeting but being quoted second hand. Dan, I'm really sorry I put you
    in this position. I should have just sent you an email and told you
    Martha was gunning for you... ;)