Selectboard Meeting Notes – Opioids, Broadband, and a Dump Truck

Brattleboro selectboard may7-2019

The Brattleboro Selectboard was reduced to four members for their meeting Tuesday, and Tim Wessel sat in as Chair for the evening. They managed to get through a long agenda with relative efficiency.

A new goal to examine the impact of the opioid epidemic in Brattleboro is being considered, as is a new handicap parking space on the east side of Main Street. The state may have programs that might eventually help Brattleboro with broadband issues, Brattleboro is paving streets in Esteyville and buying a new dump truck, and much more.

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  • Preliminaries

    The board gets started a bit late again.

    Chair Brandie Starr was absent. Vice Chair Tim Wessel was the captain for the evening.

    Wessel had no remarks. “I’m unexpectantly Chair.”

    Elwell had three announcements.

    Downtown water project. Thanks for working with us to get this done. We can see the finish line. We need to shut off water to Brooks House, High Street, and Harmony Place May 8th overnight…

    Early voting for merged school is going on now. Room 105 on 1st floor will be used for voting on May 21.

    We hired a human resources person – Sally Nicks will start in June. Up from Central Massachusetts. Worked for schools there. Worked in other central office positions and was a president of employees union. Employees here liked her. Lots of applicants. Lots of interviews. Rigorous process. Good applicants.

    Schoales talked about the merged school district election. The ballot is unusual. Choose 2 reps from all four towns. BCTV will have video of candidates forum. School district web site has details, too.

    Daniel Quipp thanked the Main Street Flea pop up for their collection of arts and creativity. A shout out to them.

    Public Participation!

    Boys and Girls Club Proclamation for the 20th anniversary in Brattleboro. In May 1999, the club came to Brattleboro. Ricky Davidson explained. 1000 registered members, free meals, tons of programming, and extra programming at the end of this summer this year.

    Wessel – I much appreciate your work. (Reads proclamation) 20th anniversary. 1000 members, serves 3200 youth annually, open over 290 days a year, open 30 hours a week for programs, serves over 6900 meals and 8900 snacks annually, and offers 9 weeks of summer programming, and 100% graduate on time with a plan, … May 2019 is Boys and Girls Club of Brattleboro Month. (much applause)

    Child Care Counts Coalition – maintaining and increasing child care slots in Windham county. Many families impacted if a facility closes suddenly. Ripple effect can be large. Child care and economic development go together. It’s part of infrastructure – like broadband or roads. We have 22 regulated programs in Brattleboro. 15 are center -based. Six are home based. And one in a school. 17 offer infant or toddler care, but slots are full. Can’t charge what it costs to run these – parents couldn’t afford it. We’re raising awareness. There are state and local things that can be done. We have choices in what we invest in.

    Wessel – I recently became a father again and found out how hard it is to find child care. Essential to have two careers in a family. It’s sometimes important for kids to interact with other kids right from the start. There are good agencies working on these problems. They need support of volunteers and taxpayers and town.

    McLoughlin – more on the financial assistance program?

    Chloe – It’s a state program that offers some assistance. The new bill at state level is trying to address people falling through cracks. We’re stuck. It’s hard to pay people $15 an hour and keep costs affordable. There are some assistance options.

    Schoales – State funds 10 hours for pre-K? Update on bill 538?

    Chloe – young kids are qualified for 35 weeks a year of assistance. Familes get about 3k off their annual tuition which is a big help. For 538 – increasing eligibility amount and who is eligible. That’s the biggest chunk, plus workforce development and education. Some money for children’s integrated services. They are looking to cut parts off.

    Emily Wagner – they want to cut pieces of it, but it will focus on workforce development and increasing assistance. It’s in the budget process.

    For open Public Participation…

    Nick Nickerson – in deference to my speech phobia – one customer said he got PTSD at KFC, the manager turned off all the tv’s, and I feel this is unfair. Any questions?

    Wessel – where are the tv’s?

    Nickerson – at KFC up in the corners. People need to adjust. It would be easy for the customer to turn away and never watch the TV’s. The rest of us have to suffer. It’s kind of ignorant.

    Wessel – A valid point.

    Gersham Moore – thanks to the more visible police officers walking around. I feel a lot more positive outside.

    Wessel -thanks.

  • Liquor Commissioners

    Shin La up for 1st Class Liquor License.

    Jimmy Lin comes from China via Brooklyn. Chef and owner of Shin La. An expert in sushi. He and his brother Danny are open for business. Shin La has a tremendous following in Brattleboro, and menu won’t change must. I’m Jeff Morse, attorney.

    Elwell – staff has reviewed materials and everything is in order.

    Jeff – he’s married and has a new daughter. Lives on Elm Street.


    1st Class License + entertainment and outside consumption for Belle Notte

    Abbazz – owners of restaurant at Country Club of Brattleboro. We owned a restaurant in Greenfield. Belle Notte used to be up on hill in Bernardson. Italian cuisine and pub food.

    Elwell – all set for approval!


    Basement Pub at Latchis 1st Class License plus Entertainment.

    David Ingraman – of Ramuntos and now Latchis Pub. We delayed opening for a variety of reasons. Bookkeeper was accident in Bahamas last year. Now have new people. Other reason was we rehabbed the building and it is 95% complete. One more approval to go.

    Elwell – occupancy permit still required.

    McLoughlin – does this relate to flood control?

    David – I think they are grandfathering a previous agreement.

    McLoughlin – what’s been made to protect against flood damage?

    David – basement was reinforced after irene – prior to my time. Building was strengthened after flood…

    Wessel – kitchen was down there.

    McLoughlin – puzzled that no one is looking at that issue.

    Elwell – you can defer this. The question is the liquor license. The state looks at flood protection.

    David – Natural Resources is involved, and fire marshalls approved repairs after Irene. No issues have come up.

    Elwell – we check to see if all other approvals have been granted. I believe that since occupancy permit is only issue remaining, either flood concerns have been addressed or it is being addressed, but I don’t have details.

    McLoughlin – I’d like the details.

    David – Not sure I’d get a definitive issue by the 21st. I’ll ask fire marshall to review that.

    Elwell – staff would do a report by the 21st.

    McLoughlin – that would be a good way to go.

    Schoales – we should do the liquor commissioner role so he can get going.

    David – this hasn’t come up in the last two years.

    McLoughlin – can we make it pending what you find out?

    Elwell – you can approve subject to the occupancy permit being approved, and we can get you that flood details as information, or do you need that info to make the decision.

    Wessel – I have faith in him and the process.

    David – upstairs pub will operate full time. Basement will be used on weekends. I know about flooding. Both my locations are close to flood zones. We can be restrictive about when we are open. The Latchis is always concerned about water levels. Safety is a primary concern of mine. Won’t have events during big storms. We have some flood insurance.

    McLoughlin – I can vote on license and be informed about flood info.

    approved, with occupancy permit condition!

  • FY20 Farm Tax Stabilization

    Elwell – the program has been in effect since 1974, providing tax relief to active farms. Most of the time it doesn’t require select board action. There is a provision that 67% of income must come from farm income. In recent years, some family transitions require a need for a waiver. When they continue to operate farm but make less than 67%, they can apply for a waiver. We do a private review. Robb Family Farm is asking for fourth year, and we again find them entitled to the waiver. Clearly continuing to farm. Also is a new request – Lisa Holderness has reopened Brook Meadow Farm. Has been working with us for a year and a half. Technically not eligible, but is applying for a waiver. She’s ramping up activity. We feel it is an okay request subject to seeing tax documentation to see more than 60% farm income, and that this be a one year waiver..

    Wessel – Holderness might come again next year?

    Elwell – we and she expect that she will earn more than 67% and she won’t need a waiver.

    McLoughlin – well within our goals to encourage and maintain small family farms. I’m in favor of both.

    Quipp – how many local farms participate?

    Elwell – about 6.

    Quipp – purpose is to provide tax relief to help people farm the land?

    Elwell – yes, municipal portion of taxes is lifted.

    Quipp – Robb Farm has new focus?

    Elwell – Charlie Jr is new operator for new generation. No decline in agriculture at the farm. They’ve grown since dairy part was shut down.

    Schoales – just named Farm of the Year.

    Quipp – I’ve had their syrup.

    Wessel – This does take money away from tax income. But it is an important thing to support. We have limited family farms in Brattleboro.

    Elwell – every farm in program must give tax agreement.

    Both approved!

  • Certification of Compliance with Town Road and Bridge Standards for the Vermont Agency of Transportation

    Steve Barrett, DPW Agent – annual town road and bridge standards compliance. Makes us eligible for additional funds in emergency events.

    Wessel – who is in charge of bridges over Connecticut River?

    Barrett – New Hampshire. We have about 10 feet on our side. People can call us if they have problems or questions.

    Quipp – I have a question about the thing. These standards with roads and bridges? How often are they updated?

    Barrett – Every year. That’s why we re-certify every year. The big emphasis now is protecting our streams. Act 64 was a modification. Each year there are standards that change.

    Elwell – We can exceed state standards.


  • Roadway Paving Project

    Barrett – spring paving award. We’ll have a summer contract, too. We may do an additional spring paving. Bazen Bros had low bid. The Esetyville area. The Estey hill is in poor shape. $43,621.

    Quipp – I’m curious. I drove these streets to see they were in poor shape. Already work already started? So if we didn’t approve this?

    Barrett – It was a calculated risk that you’d accept, but some work has to be done anyway.

    Elwell – we wouldn’t proceed with a contractor, but we do work in preparation for contractors come. Sometimes we send our own employees out to do prep work before contractor is chosen.

    Quipp – so, one thing is condition of roads. These streets, plus others later? (yes) Work done based on assessment of roads?

    Barrett – we use a program and drive all roads and map vehicle use, so priorities shift around. Low volume and less impact vs, maintenance schedules, … bundle it all up and look at budget. We’ll get back to Esty hill in 39 years once work is done. It’s a real challenge.

    Quipp – is road report publicly available?

    Barrett – list is always bigger than money. And it changes every year. It’s complicated.

    McLoughlin – prep work in anticipation was excluded from contract?

    Barrett – yes – we have funds for some projects to be done internally.


  • Dump Truck for DPW/Highway Department

    Barrett – A dump truck – from Delurey Sales & Service of North Hoosick, New York. $174,136 including warranties.

    Wessel – really expensive!

    Barrett – our 10 year old is worth $18,000. We got our money’s worth.

    Quipp – lifespan of new one?

    Barrett – 10 years. After the, we have major problems. We have used these warranties and they pay for themselves.


  • Hinesburg Road Culvert Replacement Project

    Barrett – we have a culvert to replace on Hinesbrug just past Ames Hill, about 700 ft south on Hinesburg. A.S. Clark gave low bid of $58,800. Budget was $80,000. This puts culvert in place. DPW will do paving. Layfayette will do guardrail. Funded through Vtrans Grant paying 90%. This is a good thing.

    Wessel – that was multiple bids!

    Barrett – simple and clear project. Had good competition.

    Elwell – six bids shows better the variation in pricing.

    Wessel – Bernie La Roc has the best name…

    Quipp – these culverts can deal with extra water?

    Barrett – yes – we looked at peak storms. 25-100 year. State stream people approved this.


  • Handicapped Parking on Main Street

    “Ordinance Amendments – First Reading, Appendix C (i) Designate a Handicapped Parking Space on Main Street (Art. VII, Sec, 16-107 – Spaces for Handicapped Parking) (ii) Designate “No Parking” Zone on Locust Street (Art. II, Sec. 16-100 – No Parking Areas) ”

    Wessel – two ordinances recommended by traffic safety committee.

    Elwell – on Locust Street – no parking zone be extended from Vine to Chestnut due to visibility issues. Parking is allowed on west side and on other streets. Residents in neighborhood had the initial request. Main Street is to help people with accessibility issues. It’s on the east side near River Garden, close to alley and street clock. Not fully ADA compliant. It is proper to sign something of this width, but it is not “van accessible.”

    Wessel – very needed.

    woman – thanks the town for working with ADA committee. Moreland came to meeting and was very supportive. They listened to what we had to say. This is a good start. More than 1500 handicapped tags in Brattleboro! This one will be full all the time.

    Wessel – it is a good start. It’s difficult making everything accessible to all people. In Brattleboro, anyone with handicap placard can park for free for any length of time.

    Quipp – should people go to Traffic Safety Committee with problems?

    Wessel – yes, and there is a form on the town web site.

    Quipp – this is one space for an entire town? Why not a second space?

    Elwell – nothing stopping us, but consideration is that the east side had this space available. On west side, there are lots, parking garage, and legal spaces for free.

  • Accept and Appropriate Grant – Dry Hydrant Grant, Bonnyvale Road

    Elwell – a dry hydrant is one not connected to town’s water system – comes from another source in rural area, such as a point. This would be $5,000 from the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts for a dry hydrant to be installed at a private pond at 641-643 Bonnyvale Road. Owners partnering with town. We got the grant. Fire dept will move ahead with installation.


  • Grant Application – U.S. Department of Justice, Bullet Proof Vests for Police Department

    Elwell – This is a recurring grant for the Brattleboro Police Department to submit a grant application in the amount of $2,900 to the U.S. Department of Justice for bullet proof vests. Almost always some funds available. Pretty automatic to get this. Not a lot of vests for $2900… they are expensive.


  • Brattleboro Transportation Center Improvements – Bid Awards (i) Install Additional Lights (ii) Replace Stairs

    Elwell – bidding came in favorable for new lighting and for replacement of two flights of stairs. Thought we could only do one flight this year. More than expected with stairs and all new lights. $68k to Bellco for stairs and $19,300 to Cleveland Electric for additional LED lighting.

    Came about due to big conversation last year.

    McLoughlin – why stairs fail?

    Elwell – it was a cost savings. They were to be internal stairwells, but walls were removed and they became exterior.

    Quipp – lifetime on these stairs?

    Moreland – hot dipped galvanized – I’d expect good life.

    Elwell – longer than 15 years.

    Quipp – I went up other stairs and they look fine, then remembered it was the other ones. Lighting was super contentious – I wasn’t really in favor of it. It’s less than we thought…

    McLoughlin – it’s a public safety issue?

    Elwell – brighten the place to help with perceptions.

    Quipp – but it will add to our energy use and cost.

    Moreland – they are LED lights, about 33% more than present.

    Quipp – maybe we should have a party there to make it attractive too the public.

    Stephanie Bonin – just got an AARP grant to do placemaking in alley by Experienced Goods – to embody the space in a new way.

    Wessel – near the wood pellet silo.

    (This new board spends a lot of time making small chit chat about things they post on Mark Zuckerberg’s corporation’s web site. I posted this. I posted that. I saw your post.)

    Bid awarded.

  • Update Regarding Broadband Legislation/Grants – H.513

    Patrick Moreland – a recent discussion to expand broadband availability. The bill is still in process. Sitting in a senate finance committee. Assuming it gets passed, it would do a number of things. I’ve provided a memo. Before I take though it, we took time to look at VT Dept of Public Service for connectivity levels in Brattleboro. Brattleboro is pretty well connected by Vermont standards. 95% have access to 25 mbps down and 3 up. Just 32 locations not served. Most of the state programs are for underserved or unserved locations. We’re considered largely “served.” Will give $ to existing and new programs. A technical assistant at the state level to help municipalities. Staff will have more on local options in June. State assistant could be of help. It can pay for some feasibility studies that may be of help. Electric utilities to deliver broadband? Another is potential to use general obligation bonds for municipalities to invest in infrastructure. If we wanted to build a municipal fiber plant, we’d need to work with pole owners. This legislation could make it easier to do. And other programs…

    Moreland – it may or may not pass, but if it does there are some elements that could be of some benefit to Brattleboro. In June we’ll have more on municipal broadband options for you.

    Wessel – great work.

    Schoales – the poles and partners and bonds are really crucial. I just started learning about this recently. They are the big obstacles. Today finance committee said they’d amend to make sure 5g issue is included – that level of microwave radiation may be dangerous for us. It will got through Act 250 for 5g transmitters.

    Moreland – staff has been meeting with communities and find out about how and why they did town fiber projects. What do we hope to achieve and what will we sacrifice to achieve it.

  • Annual Goal Setting (i) Review of Comprehensive Review of Town Operations (CRTO) Update (ii) Discussion and Possible Adoption of Selectboard Goals for 2019 – 2020

    Elwell – your next item is consideration of goal setting process. We provide an update of CRTO so you can see long term objectives, plus last year’s goals and how we did. That’s just background information to your discussion of goals. We prepare a draft list of goals, and sometimes insert staff goals. Setting goals is best with 5 members here, but you can start in… The CRTO – we’ve made good progress on goals in CRTO, and better progress than I dared predict on some larger goals, such as capital improvement planning. We’re doin’ the work that needs to be done… and making steady progress on long term. 10 items this year of 57 total moved to “accomplished”. We’ll need a new CRTO next year to look at next period of years.

    Wessel -the CRTO got me excited to serve when I ran. Glad we will update it. Brandie has a desire to be in this conversation.. a light pass over tonight, and more later?

    Quipp – I appreciate the goals crafted so far. We have a crisis on our hands around opioids and overdoses, so I’d like to include it in goals. “Public Health” heading – better understand impacts on town through collaboration and sharing. A monthly report on how it impacts us.

    Schoales – It should be under ‘sustainability”

    Quipp – this crisis impacts all aspects of town. It’s a public health crisis.

    McLoughlin – I agree. I like this goal and like to add another corollary – to educate the public about Project CARE with town-wide mailing of brochure. Town should be wallpapered with it. What is Brattleboro doing about the crisis? The collaborative effort is a positive step. Brochure shows resources. It exists and should be spent to public.

    Wessel – when it started, there was discussion. No central spot that describes it. It’s been evolving. It is underfunded.

    McLoughlin – Would public awareness increase funding?

    Wessel – Not sure. Could be. What about the role of municipal government? What’s the goal we can check off. Education and coordination is okay, but wording has to be careful. One thing that alarms me is the monthly report. I might push back. Town staff is busy with other things. Not sure it is a bar that can be kept. It’s a growing national issue. It’s sobering what everyone is dealing with right now. New meth issues coming, too. I want a goal that is do-able for a tiny town with a lot of heart.

    Quipp – we could get into it…

    Wessel – Brandie has the most experience with this right now. I’d like her involved in conversation.

    McLoughlin – have you seen the brochure? Let’s refresh our memory and look at public education element.

    Schoales – what’s it going to look like? For the brochure, this could be on the agenda and just do it. It’s an action.

    McLoughlin – Peter could report about back at next meeting.

    Elwell – brochure is a simple matter of price. On wording of the goal, staff thinks adding something here about opioids is good. I’ll review with staff further. Maybe quarterly reports would work.

    Quipp – trying to start a conversation about what we might be able tot do as a board. Brattleboro won’t solve this problem, but we have a responsibility to share info and be accountable and track trends. When it is in one place you can see it more clearly. I’d like the public to have a clearer sense of the crisis in our town and our response to it. We need a clear eyed view of what is happening. And work within the budget we have.

    Wessel – Chad Simmons is deep in data. We’re not in a vacuum. Good people working on this.

    Quipp -and the DBNA needs to be in on this.

    McLoughlin – and the brochure!

    Stephanie Bonin – if it is under “sustainability” is is connected to the new officer?

    Schoales – there would be staff support.

    McLoughlin – we have public health officials.

    Elwell – public health is mostly a state issue. Point folks will be in multiple departments, but mostly the police in the lead in organizing this report. And the fire department. WE have the info but it isn’t being organized this way.

    Quipp – it would be good to have a narrative, with concerns… the library has concerns about users and facilities. Needs to be more visible in the community.

    Elwell – this does cross across many departments. The library… and also Rec & Parks have increased impacts. Staff does talk about this. It is a bit hidden to community. We’d be happy to support this sort of a goal.

    McLoughlin – you might want a letter to go with the brochure explaining why it is being sent.

    Wessel – great to get Brandie’s input on this, too. Goals don’t list everything we do in the year. We do more than the goals.

    Schools – we hear things from the community. Would be interesting to see last four years of goals.

    McLoughlin – another goal to suggest – negotiate with The Current to do three things: visible bus stop signs, lower fares, and downtown loop to reduce traffic and increase sustainability via mass transit. I’m not that familiar with the bus routes. Most people don’t know about the bus – it is a hidden service.

    Wessel – I got a new schedule and map sent to my house, they improved the website. They came here and did impression. I thought they were doing a good job. That’s a goal – field trip for the board on the bus. But not a goal for the Current. We don’t control them.

    Quipp – $50k buys us something.

    Schoales – gets us low fares.

    McLoughlin – there are people who need the bus and those who want to use the bus, and expanding to the second group is where sustainability pops in.

    Wessel – then we talk about the monorail.

    McLoughlin – I saw that Simpsons episode.

    Wessel – that was an inside joke…

    Schools – there is a concrete foundation in the road already.

    Elwell- can I make an observation – I see you and understand you grappling with details here. A lot else gets done during the year. It’s equally true that we won’t accomplish all of these. This year has more things already than is typical. I’d urge you to know it is okay that things aren’t fully formed, and ok to not end up where you thought you’d end up. I can include what is suggested for full list next time.


  • July Selectboard Meetings – Cancel July 2+16 and Hold a Single July Meeting on July 9

    Elwell – the board has the habit of skipping a meeting in July. We did July and August since and lived to regret it. It was brutal. Should not do it two months in a row, but one month would work. Cancel July 2+16 and have a single meeting on July 9?

    McLoughlin – fine with me. I’ll be out Aug 6.

    Wessel – fine for me.

    Schoales – another 5 week month!

    Elwell – we can do both.

    Wessel – if you have enough public notice… it works for me.

    Elwell – you could have a three week break then four week break…

    Quipp – It’s fine with my calendar for all of these dates.

    Schoales – wait and check with Brandie?

    Elwell – you don’t have to vote – we can check with Brandie and if okay we’ll make the change.

    McLoughlin – to have one meeting

    Elwell – on the 9th. We’ll confirm it back to you once we have Brandie’s confirmation.

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