Selectboard Meeting Notes: Something Borrowed

It took the Brattleboro Selectboard less time to approve of a $7.8 million bond application than it did to learn about the Southern Vermont Dance Festival. Both were equally approved and proclaimed at Tuesday’s meeting.

Gibson Aiken gym windows will be replaced, paving projects have been funded, Brattleboro aims to buy property along the Whetstone to help with flood prevention and water quality, the cemetery committee and ordinance are evolving, and the annual dog warrant has been issued.


Chair David Gartenstein and Town Manager Peter Elwell were absent, leaving vice-chair Kate O’Connor to lead the proceedings.

O’Connor noted that work on the Green Street wall was complete and traffic was again moving on Green Street. She also noted the upcoming free concert at the Common by the U.S. Air Force band on June 12 at 2 p.m.

Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland announced that the stairwell at the transportation center should be complete by the end of the week, and that the buyout project at 805 Western Ave from 5 years ago is finally seeing some movement, and demotion will be scheduled in the near future.

For Selectboard comments and committee reports, David Schoales told everyone that the Solid Waste District will meet on Thursday.

Public Participation

The Brattleboro Selectboard resolved and proclaimed that July 14-17 will be Southern Vermont Dance Festival Weekend. The festival was explained at length by director Brenda Siegel, and reiterated in the resolution read by Kate O’Connor.

Approval of Bond and Documents for Police-Fire Projects

The Brattleboro Selectboard approved participating in the 2016 Series 1 Vermont Municipal Bond Bank Sale, hoping to borrow $7,800,000. Interest rates are officially set when the bond is approved, but preliminary documents show Brattleboro owing $390,000 each November, every year, from 2017 to 2036, to pay back principal.

The package of paperwork to the bond bank will include a resolution, tax certificate, loan agreement, and various certifications. Degray asked about recent changes to the tax certificate and John O’Connor explained that the feds were tightening up reporting requirements. He further explained that a bank gets issued the bond money, and the Town applies for reimbursement. This prevents the town from earning interest of the bond money as it sits.

The agreement also contains wonderful banking language, such as: “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Bond, when issued and delivered pursuant to the law and this Resolution, shall be the valid and binding general obligation of the Municipality, payable according to law and the terms and tenor thereof from unlimited ad valorem taxes on the grand list of all taxable property of said Municipality as established, assessed, apportioned and provided by law…”

It was all approved, 4-0.

I-91 Bridge Impact Grant

The Vermont Agency of Transportation has awarded the Town a grant of $200,000 to pay for resurfacing of Upper Dummerston Road (from the Town line to Rt 30) and Western Avenue from Allerton Avenue to Chestnut Hill. This will be a full-width, 3/4” overlay for Upper Dummerston, and a two-lane 3/4 “ overlay for Western Avenue.

Patrick Moreland said that both locations need good paving jobs.

The Brattleboro Selectboard accepted the money on behalf of the Department of Public Works.

FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant – Buying Whetstone Property

The Conservation Commission, Planning Commission and Planning Department have been working jointly for almost two years with the Vermont River Conservancy on a floodplain restoration project for about 12 acres of property along the Whetstone Brook. The official address is 250 Birge Street. You might recognize it as the big open space seen from Williams Street when driving along the brook.

Planning Services Director Rod Francis explained that the plan is to use FEMA funds to purchase the property by this November, and follow up with environmental reviews and assessments. The ultimate goal is rehabilitate the site to reconnect the Whetstone Brook with the floodplain and offer some open space.

75% of the purchase costs are provided by FEMA. The other 25% comes from local sources, already secured and not from town taxes.

Francis said the area had been the focus of a number of water quality and flood studies, and those show that restoration of this area (removing the gravel and fill to make it deeper and better able to accomodate flooding) would not only help limit flooding downstream in downtown, but would also act as a natural water filtering area.

After purchase of the property, a brownfield study will be done as part of the town’s ongoing brownfield revitalization. The Windham Regional Commission has access to grants to fund any clean-up, if necessary.

John Allen wondered what could possibly turn up in brownfield studies, as it was used to store wood for many years. “It will be interesting to see what turns up,” said Francis.

Vermont River Conservancy Executive Director Steve Libby said that this project ranks very high on the list of state projects. “We can return the river to its ecological role,” he said. “An opportunity like this doesn’t come along often.”

Gibson-Aiken Windows

The Brattleboro Selectboard approved of a $29,875 bid from Vermont Vinyl to replace 24 windows in the main gymnasium of the Gibson Aiken Center on Main Street. This is the second round of window replacements in a multi-year effort to bring the building up-to-date.

Recreation & Parks Director Carol Lolatte said there were four bids, ranging for just over $10,000 to almost $80,000.

Through a lucky coincidence, Brattleboro was able to test the Phase I work with thermal imaging during the energy audits, which caught some caulking problems that were subsequently repaired.  Degray wondered why testing wasn’t included in the project RFP. “Why not have the installer do it?” he asked, after Lolatte suggested rehiring the energy audit consultant for $150 to test the Phase II work.

John Allen said that would be like the “fox guarding the henhouse,” and said he’d rather have independent advice and a second opinion.

Before letting Lolatte depart, the board asked about summer programs. The pool opens June 18, and there are still spaces available in summer programs for kids.

First Reading – Cemetery Ordinance Changes

The Brattleboro Cemetery Committee has proposed changes to the cemetery ordinance for the Town, and a first reading of the proposed changes was held Tuesday evening. Marshall Wheelock explained the proposed changes to the board.

He said that there were some minor changes to bring the language up-to-date, as well as more substantial changes impacting the operation of town cemeteries.

For example, a section of Morningside Cemetery known as Maplewood will be designated for burial of (cremated) indigent Town residents. For this section, plot and opening fees are waived.

Another section of Morningside will be set aside for cremated remains only. Solar powered eternal flames will be allowed. Corner markers can have a second initial carved. Headstones must be arranged in an orderly manner.

Wheelock explained that when the committee began, there were many volunteers and much work to do to “create” the town cemetery system. Now, issues come up but the committee isn’t as active as it once had been.

“The committee is less and less active, and it’s more difficult to find bodies to fill spots,” he began. Allen grimaced at the word “bodies,” so Wheelock tried again. “ … to find living beings to fill spots” on the committee. The committee therefores recommended reducing the number of members and the number of meetings required.

Cemetery Committee Terms Limits

The Brattleboro Selectboard acted on recommendations of the Cemetery Committee to change to a five member committee with staggered 3-year terms.

Annual Dog Warrant

To my dog friends. Arf. Woof. Woof woof. Arf, woof. Arf.

To their owners: the annual Dog Warrant was approved by the Brattleboro Selectboard. This means fines for owners and that any unlicensed dog or wolf-hybrid may be impounded, sent to a shelter or adoptive home, and if all else fails, may be “destroyed in a humane way.”

“This makes me crazy every year,” said Kate O’Connor. “The dog shouldn’t be punished. It’s the wrong entity being punished.”

Degray suggested that the names of delinquents be published in the paper. Town Clerk Annette Cappy says all currently-local dogs get accounted for, usually by December.

One of the only fun parts of this annual announcements is to read through the list and see the names chosen for various dogs about town. Greetings to Nitro, Zapp, Shanti, Bigbie, Goji, Roo, Piper, Mr. Beebles, Malibu, Jr., Cow Cow, Skippy, and Ox, to name but a few.


“Anything else we can do while we have the power here?” joked O’Connor. There was nothing, and they adjourned.

Comments | 2

  • Poor people

    I think it’s nice that the town is creating a potter’s field but too bad that we need one. I’m assuming that’s what the indigent stuff was about.

    • Also

      As they said, the Cemetery Committee is in need of new members.

      Looks like a pretty easy thing to do – not many mtgs required, and a rewarding mission to make the properties nice.

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