Selectboard Meeting Notes – Face Coverings Required By Customers in Brattleboro

brattleboro selectboard may 19

The Brattleboro Selectboard passed a resolution at their Tuesday meeting requiring face coverings to be worn by customers and employees in all retail establishments. It was part of an expanded discussion of COVID-19 and business issues.

Many agenda items relating to Utility and Parking budgets were postponed to a special meeting next week.

Comments | 7

  • Preliminaries

    Chair Tim Wessel thanked Patrick Moreland for his behind the scenes meeting controlling skills and efforts.

    He noted a new phase of the world we’re in, and stores are slowly opening up. It’s exciting and scary for everyone. It would be good to remember that everyone has different levels of anxiety of being close to people.A different risk tolerance. Regardless of edicts from the Governor, if you see someone with a mask, put your mask on. If you go into a business, keep 6 feet away and wear a mask. It is an easy thing to do, and supports others who are less comfortable, and supports people working at those stores. It feels like a sign of respect and personal safety for them. It feels momentous but even if it is a small thing.

    Peter Elwell – One thing – yesterday we released the water quality confidence report – all tests are within limits. The systems are designed for low tolerance of contaminants and we are below the tolerances. Got a good grade on this. Solid numbers. The water supply is well maintained. They are posted at the Town’s website and printed copies are available. Tri-Park Coop office has them, and Guilford Country Store. Very reassuring.

    Daniel Quipp – the traffic safety committee will meet this Thursday, just like this one. You have to wake up… and the link is on the Town’s website.

    Tim – an expansion of coverage of meetings. BCTV didn’t record it before but now we are. That’s nice. Next up, Public Participation. Say something in the chat box, to raise your hand, and if you are on the phone I will open up the phone lines at the end. BCTV has been serving us all these years and if you haven’t heard, they are changing channels. Send me the details… it is in the thousands. It’s a wonderful thing, though higher in the dial. It finally means the programming will be in every kind of listing. Easier to find on the cable system.

    Elwell – 1075 and 1085.

    Tim – or say BCTV into your remote – I have no idea. We are going on now. Comedy all night. Public participation… Doran Hamm.

    Doran – Hi. I’m here representing the tenant’s union of Brattleboro. We’re a month old and we are a collection f tenants, and we have a website. We will be up on tenant law. We’re a resource for tenants looking for info. Not lawyers, just volunteers. We’re here to support tenants of the greater Brattleboro area. We’ll chat with you over time as we make requests and voice opinions.

    Millicent Cooley – I’m making an announcement on the nourishing artist campaign. It was successful to collect gift cards for local artists. More artists are required to sign up, so restaurants get paid. Any artist qualifies to get a restaurant dinner if they live, work, display, perform, etc in Brattleboro. Arts administration, stage hands, tattoo artists. It is broad. Sign up and get a great meal. $19,270 total of Gift Card Purchases. Total Impact to Downtown Businesses = $25,270.

    Tim – the reason why we ask not to share questions in the chat is that it doesn’t get recorded for open meeting law.

  • COVID-19 Update

    Elwell – the overall update is brief, but we have other topics. Changes to town operations two weeks ago – we opened the door a crack and staffed things daily. One person in each department for people who need to come to the office if they make appointments. Work remotely when you can. Wear a mask. It’s been working well and getting little visitation but lots of contact with the public, remotely. We appreciate it. The box in the parking lot was well used for tax payments. The transition has gone well and we’ll continue like this for the foreseeable future. Safer not to fully occupy offices. The other thing is an increase in recreation availability. Parks facilities are more actively used now. Still limited in ways they can be used. Discourage use of playground equipment and seating. Not clean enough. Steady as we go. Continued planning for how we’ll slowly get more active and interactive. One other announcement from the State, Mike Bucossi has been organizing food distribution sites, and Brattleboro will have one next Wednesday at BUHS. More details coming soon. If anyone needs food, it is free. Show no details. There will be long lines, so be patient and be early. There will be a queuing system. BUHS can line up on Atwood Street. Come South Main Street to get there. It will be orderly and people can get what they need. 10 am to 2 pm next Wednesday.

    Daniel – the two tennis courts at LMP are used heavily right now. I wonder if that is possible for us to talk about the six courts at the high school could be opened.

    Elwell – absolutely. I can’t speak for the school, but Carol Lolatte has spoken with them and it is in the works.

    Tim – okay, that’s the overall update, let’s do the financial update

    (i) Monthly Financial Report – Actual FY20 Budget Results Through April 30 (ii) Updated Estimate of FY20 Year-End Budget Results – Projections Through June 30

    Elwell – two pieces – the usual monthly report, and then the year end.

    Elwell – our General Fund expenses are down, the gap is widening. The Utilities fund is under 80% expenditures and with 83% of the year gone, that’s in good shape as well. The Utility Fund revenues are steady, and feeling optimistic about the General Fund revenues. We’ll know more in two weeks. Solid Waste trails a month behind. It looks about on target. A little high on revenues and expenditures. The loans report is interesting. You allowed those folks repaying to defer loan payments, and that is occurring – they’ll pick that up again when you decide and the months missed will be added to the end with no additional interest. Several folks are continuing to make the payments and staying on track, and the loan report shows some deferrals and some current in their account. Not a lot else to say. Questions?

    Elwell – so the big news is in the receipts from the state – the quarterly payments for local option taxes – expected $0 but got $70k for rooms and meals and that is low for a quarter but not as low as we thought it would be. This quarter included January to March, and homeless got housed at hotels. Those things contribute to this number, and restauans are still serving and staying in business with daunting challenges. There is at-the-curb service contributing. The figure for sales tax is $181k – lower than usual (hoped for 191k) but more than our initial projections per quarter. We were conservative with our projections for the end of the year. Very significant bits of news. Less likely to end the year in deficit. But reliance on property taxes and is becoming more k now is the reipt of property taxes. The news is also goo. Collected 97.4% in property taxes. We projected 98.75% for a normal year. There is always some under collection. About $435k off the mark. Not bad for a few days after the deadline. It appears that hasn’t been widespread inability to pay, or even a significant number.

    Tim – that is fantastic news. I’d hope everyone paying taxes on time is a testament to their confidence and support of the importance of Town taxes. That’s what I’d like to think. Wonderful news.

    Elwell – because of this timing, these numbers today, we don’t have an updated analysis yet. We’ll have one before the next meeting.

    Tim – I’m hogging comments.

    Liz – the 1% included internet sales and that is important.

    Tim – and rooms and meals contains alcohol… we’ve heard from a couple of citizens if we’d make any blanket relief for deadlines of paying taxes or waiving penalties and fees, and if we did that too early before we saw how things went, it would send a signal. I’m feeling that if we have a complete picture at the next meeting we could bring it up. We’ve put out information about the abatement process.

    Liz – could you explain the abatement process?

    Elwell – if you can’t pay your taxes you’d file for a abatement. A large board and hearings… individuals provide financial details and the board decided is some or all of taxes could be relieved. It could be quarterly or annual, or partial or full. One example – if there is a fire to a building and they aren’t getting the use out of it and need to spend money to restore it, often they seek abatement. The property value is down and the cost for repairs are up. The board tries to be very fair. There is a balancing act – taxes that are abated are shared by all other taxpayers.

    Daniel – glad the revenue is coming in, but everyone is struggling. The state has a disconnection moratorium on utilities, but there are still funds available through SEVCA for paying overdue electric bills. Reach out and get support for those bills.

    Tim – Governor just signed a no-evictions order, which doesn’t help with payments, but it is something.

    Liz – about evictions. SEVCA helps with someone facing eviction – start now to alleviate the situation. Call to get help and plan now to have a payment plan so you aren’t subject to eviction when it is lifted.

    Ian – New evictions and foreclosures are stayed until after July 15, unless the order is continued. If something is already in process, it is June 15th.

    Tim – the next item is a discussion – Possible Temporary Expansion of Outdoor Business Activity During Recovery. There has been some individual chats going around so invited Stephanie Bonin of DBA to update us. We have a caller… no. We have an idea and an open discussion.

    Stephanie – Hello, hello, hello… there is feedback, there is feedback, there is feedback…is that better, is that better, is that still feedback, feedback, you are you are? okay, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. (Long pause…) Okay, okay, oh man, oh man, oh shoot… we now know it isn’t the wifi, the sifi… is that any better, better? Oh I had my volume down, down.

    Liz – we can hear you but there is feedback

    Stephanie – a little perspective about opening up. It is happening at different levels. Certain businesses only, with a limited capacity and employees. We don’t know when restaurants will open, but might open in phases. Curbside and outdoor frost, then may at 25% capacity. We can be confident we won’t open 100% and be business as normal. This conversation is that our world will look different. It is temporary. How can we lift up our businesses in a way by repurposing public spaces – to sit for restaurants, or businesses to allow shopping. Mostly restaurants. Can we close roads and put restaurants outside to help lift them an way we can, whether the reopening phase is simply a decreased capacity because of self isolating or a percentage, whatever the decrease is, it is not a sustainable business model. can we do anything. The idea I thought we could start with is blocking Elliot St every Friday through Sunday – shopping outside or places for seating for restaurants. Sidewalks could be used more, and we could create dining parklets out of two spaces fo a restaurant – it could seat three tables. They would need some money support to build them, or concrete cub barriers to create dining rooms in those spaces. Harmony spaces could be used, too. Pliny Park could be used for businesses to do things, maybe through an application process.

    Liz – I had a thought – the Stroll has floats. Could those be used for parklets – The are already built. Could they be borrowed.

    Steph – yes.

    Liz – these things exist.

    Ian – for the idea of closing Elliot Street, have you spoken to businesses on Elliot, what are the numbers?

    Steph – I spoke with three or four.

    Ian – was there consensus?

    Steph – restaurants were generally interested but couldn’t spend money, and they thing sidewalks are too narrow.

    Liz – does it have to be for the whole weekend or just Friday-Sunday night.

    Daniel – I like the idea of using public spaces in creative ways. How would the street closing affect the fire station downtown? I’m excited to work together and see what we can do, so yea!

    Brandie – I agree with Daniel – I want to support Brattleboro businesses, especially downtown businesses without parking lots. I’m open to hearing anything. Also nervous about Central Fire, but eager to support it.

    Liz – I think there is a lot of opportunity in the harmony Lot, and all for supporting businesses. Les disposed to use of Pliny Park.

    Tim -I’d also be uncomfortable with Pliny Park for business, but the most positive ideas are parklets and Harmony Lot. There are issues with both, I’m sure, but still they seem to be the most promising ideas to explore. The street closures cause problems. Not just safety, but access to other businesses. Main Street is mostly up to the state so we don’t have a lot of options. The last thing is the money. The town has resources to deploy without spending much money.

    Daniel – the library had the outdoor seating to make available, so maybe it doesn’t need to be elaborate. It needs to be safe and functional, but maybe not the world’s most expensive.

    Ian – yea, and as I consider this more, I like something that could be consistent. There is so much changing happening – when will Elliot Street be closed. Maybe we could do something more consistent.

    Elwell – in order of lightest lift to heaviest – easiest is Harmony Lot and Elliot Street, then parklet. We can work out details. Harmony Lot, at least at the beginning, won’t have full parking demand. We can make space available in Harmony Lot. Elliot St is a slam dunk for sometimes being open and sometimes not. If we could find a pattern for people to follow, that’s a space we can work with. IT’s ideal for this type of activity – for short term shutdowns – 4pm to 9 pm… in that kind of window, it has very little negative impact. It reroutes fire trucks but we have worked through that for other events. Parklets are hard – the cost of acquiring them. Our downtown has the traditional closeness and is human scale. There isn’t much room in that parking coordinator. You would need multiple spaces for just a few tables. That’s the most challenging request in COVID times. At other times, they can be packed more closely.

    Steph – one thing is the difference between a parklet idea assigned to a specific business. Elliot and Harmony would be more like “Brattleboro’s dining room” – two different dining models. The parklet would be like inside tables, with servers. People are interested in these ideas for different reasons. I like Pliny – an oddball space. Hermit Thrush is right there, and it could be a beautiful space to sit and use. It is underutilized. The yellow chair furniture is able to be used, and Starr already wanted to check it out to people. Furniture – there is a lot inside if it isn’t being used. lastly, the parklet, in construction, is that they g flush with the sidewalk – for ADA and to staple the sidewalk. Grants get approved but not urgently.

    Tim – I’ll read Millicent’s question, more detail about why Pliny is less desirable. I said I was opposed to it. It crosses a line – it is a park for everyone, and giving it to a business would change it. I don’t like the idea at all.

    Liz – It’s not just you. I feel the same way. It is a public park and shouldn’t be used for commercial purposes, even if it is an emergency.

    Daniel – in normal times you might use that space to eat your lunch. It is often hard to find a space outside of the business. Keeping as much available for people to sit and enjoy the weather. And to provide opportunities for people to make those spaces as pleasant as possible.

    Brandie – in concept is is good to use for business, but I will be pushing for us to … break the norms, to support business. Pliny Park can be keto the norm, but I’ll encourage us to step outside our norm.

    Stephanie – I don’t want to be caught in the Pliny park weeds, but any space we use to reassign spaces, is multiuser public space, if you have a dining room in Pliny or Harmony… it will stay mixed space. Not just commerce if we put in a few tables and chairs. Multi-use is my point.

    Tim – how does the Dept of Liquor permits… has there been any rules being loosened.

    Elwell – a normal outside consumption permit will be required to serve outdoors, even if it is in a parking lot. I’m not sure how that would work for shared spaces. We’d go to bat for a specific set of ideas to support businesses. There’s room for us to pushback. We’d want to set it up in a responsible way.

    Liz – what Stephanie is trying to create is a Brattleboro dining Room for multiuser of the restaurants with tables and chairs. The restaurant would need to oversee their selling of drinks. Wouldn’t that wreck the model?

    Steph – the parklet would expand capacity. The street closure could have table service or self-serve. We’re grasping at whatever we can get. The parklet is easiest for expanding occupancy in front of businesses.

    Tim – my camera is off, can you hear me? You can’t see me? I’m experiencing a hiccup… my Comcast is failing. Are you hearing me? Can you see me? Better? We have a couple of callers…. Dick Degray!

    Degray – great conversation. One of the things, when you talk of logistics of Elliot Street, is is critical for the community. It is a great relief for traffic going through town, so I’m extremely concerned about closing the street for the weekend. The parklet idea is a great idea. One thing to be concerned about is we want people to be able to park when they come downtown. The further they have to walk, the less they come downtown. Consider how many you’d have, or close just one side of Main Street. Pliny Park is a community park, and wouldn’t want anyone in there unless they rented it for an event. Harmony Lot. Richard French, who owns the Works, said he might want a tent but that is a tremendous expense. A community seating area, will that be part. Alcohol in a community area, logistically, if you eat at Amy’s and walk to Harmony, your food will be cold. The parklet idea sounds the best of all three. But think about Elliot – think about the traffic it has on it and it is busy for downtown.

    Tim – I have similar concerns. Not sure it would be all weekend. Just evenings here and there.

    Steph – that balance between using things… Richard French would love an extension of his space – a tent with outdoor space. Arkham could do the same thing. That’s the idea – a specific business.

    Tim – it is a daunting task. I keep thinking of new things. Businesses want spaces for pickup. There are competing interests. A good start to a conversation.

    Brandie – we are doing well downtown. It is unsustainable. Businesses will need to give up some parking to expand outdoor capacity. Curbside alone is not enough. We need to make space for it.

    Tim – town staff should talk with DBA and the Chamber… is there another caller…

    Ian – newbie question – where does it go from here? What’s the next step?

    Elwell – we’ll come back with you as jointly as we can. Viable and permutable. We’ll bring something to the selectboard to issue emergency orders or exceptions. Want to be transparent tot he community about any rules being bent temporarily. Worst case, the businesses want things we have concerns about and you can have that conversation. Goal is a single plan.

    Liz – a lot of positive head nodding noted…

    Tim – it won’t be in the minutes, but in the video. Any last items?

    Daniel – on Friday the Governor issues his addendum, and one thing about mask use. It says “general public is encouraged to wear face covering…. businesses may require customers to wear masks. The legislative body in each community can be more strict. I’d like a discussion about doing just that. I’ve spoken with many people and many are supportive of wearing face coverings in retails spaces. I think often times we are forced to do what we’re allowed by the state. The governor has punted this. Other towns have passed resolutions requiring face coverings in retail establishment. Most local stores are requiring it but it is a store by store basis. I think the Town could enact a policy, or passing an emergency ordinance of limited duration. Thoughts? It is easy to wear a mask.

    Liz – my daughter made my mask. My first reaction is to be respectful of storekeepers and workers, then I read an article about the mask ordinance in NYC being used to rough people up. It isn’t really enforceable without mask police, but Stephaie has produced signs with a number of things for customers to do including wearing masks. It takes it our of the realm of each store if all of Brattleboro commerce is asking. I’m content with that.

    Brandie – I went downtown to check the open businesses. Were people being respectful. Two store owners wished it was mandated. People have been combative. People scream at others for wearing masks. My concern is that things are emotional and shopkeepers have a lot on their plate and policing one another might not be the best bet. I think it is unfortunate the Governor didn’t pass something for everyone. Not all stores use the DBA signs, and I have concerns about policing one another with high emotions. I want to help shop owners. Only a couple didn’t want an ordinance.

    Amanda Witman – I’ve spoken with businesses, but as a resident I’ve spoken with friends and neighbors about masks. The most important thing is how people feel downtown. Do people feel safe downtown? I’m hearing that if people have masks they feels safe. People without masks are concerning. We need to normalize mask usage. A sign everyone is being safe together. The way masks work is that my mask keeps you safe and your mask keeps me safe. Needs to be a top-down mandate.

    Tim – if you want to ask a question… Peter Case wants to chime in. And Kate O’Connor. Ian first.

    Ian – I’ve thought about this as well. Emptions are high. The resolutions passed in Burlington aren’t enforceable. It’s just a policy. They have been clear about what they are asking. We can take a note form that and provide clarity about what we are expecting them to do. Clarity is the most important thing.

    Tim – I think is important to be clear. We’re all believers in the masks. Not necessary to convince us of the value of masks. It doesn’t protect yourself, it protects others. But how to communicate that and coordinate with businesses. I’m opposed to an ordinance. It takes a long time. We’ve been trying to eliminate unenforceable ordinances. We have one that says it is illegal to throw rocks in Brattleboro.

    Brandie – my kids break that one every day.

    Tim – we removed an unjust ordinance last year – the no begging ordinance. Something similar to Burlington would be ok. I think edicts from shop owners might be best – right at the door. I think we could pass a policy. It could help shops that want this. Some may not want this. But people who are working have rights. This might help that hopefully. It’s rude and dangerous if someone is infecting… so I trust our community and think about Hanford that has uneven pocky. Luckily there is a lot of room. Keep away even if you hav a mask. When people have masks on they get closer. My strongest objection would be an ordinance.

    Elwell – it would be difficult to enforce. It would appear it is being ignored. We do have enforcement concerns, but I hear the rallying around a policy statement. Daniel wanted to say something?

    Daniel – The way I feel is that this is about public safety and taking responsibility fr what we can control. I wish the Governor made an order but it didn’t happen, so we need to take our responsibility for public safety – I know we take it seriously. This tool may not seem enforceable, but it could help us reduce cases as things reopen. Town by town data shows we are in the higher part of that list, and our border is near two states and we’ll be popular with tourists. We cold be opening ourselves up to some problems. The plastic bag ban – at first stores apologized and blamed the town. We are elected to do this. I want us to take responsibility for this.

    Tim – Peter case?

    Peter – thanks. I think one lightening rod issues for me is watching the social media vigilanteism about people wearing or not wearing masks, and consumer confidence. I think the town needs to be the heavy here. The governor should have mandated a mask for retail and restaurants. I’d like this board to pass a clear and concise policy to address this issue, so retailers have one less thing. They can blame the Town. To put it on shop owners now… nobody pandemics well. Maybe it is a 30 day policy. Revisit it in three weeks. I agree about public safety. It really is an issue when someone comes at you without a mask. Not sure why it is such a lighting rod issue. Seems clear to me to require masks in retail confined spaces.

    Kate O’Connor – about the sign that DBA made – it has a couple of things – stay 6 feet away, wash your hands – that’s VT DE[pt of Health Guidance. It is authoritative. This wasn’t on tonight’s agenda, so I ask that you won’t decide tonight, and that it goes on the agenda, so you can get feedback from the business community and the issues they are facing. I urge you to not make any decision tonight, and give us a heads up so we can gather more feedback. Whatever you do, they’ll have to deal with it. The Chamber would want to help you with that.

    Tim – I have a question for you – does that apply no matter how we approach this? If it is a simple policy, or an ordinance. The board is leaning toward a simple policy that aligns with what stores are doing. You think stores won’t want a policy?

    Kate – you need to ask. This wasn’t on the agenda so they couldn’t comment tonight. Some don’t want to be told what to do. It’s unfair to have the conversation when no one was taking place. I’m just a nerd and watch all these meetings. There are people to hear from.

    Brandie – good to hear you Kate. I hear what you are saying, but if a shopowenr told me it was no one’s business… but if you let someone in and they get someone else sick, what does that mean. When is it a public participating location. That’s my comeback to that hypothetical.

    Ian – It would be two weeks before we could amen a decision. That’s too long. Things are opening up. We could do nothing, pass a pocky, or start an ordinance. Not worth delaying that long.

    Daniel – it is the town’s responsibility to take care of the people fo town. There will be some pushback. The better thing for the people who live here and come here. We need to take responsibility. I’d rather be the bad guy and keep people safe. Relatives in the realm of the living. Elect someone else next year if you don’t like it. It hasn’t been warned, but it happened Friday. It would be irresponsible not to talk about it, given how rare it is to differentiations from the state in a matter of law. We could pass a policy tonight, or warn a special meeting.

    Elwell – we have more public to speak, but some structure: while it is unusual to have this discussion, Bob Fisher was asked about us taking action tonight. For a variety of reasons, it is not inappropriate for the group to act this evening. It sounds like you think it is urgent enough. I’ve had lots of communication and heard you come to a way forward to rally around. I hear at least three feeling ready to act. In preparation for this moment, I have a document to share with you. I’ve used Burlington’s document and have modified it to be a resolution, but simpler. We can put it up to review.

    Tim – it is 8:30 and wondering if interpreters need a break….

    Elwell – a break is great idea – you can look at this two page document. Patrick can put it up as two pages, maybe, or one at a time? Shut off audio, take a break, people can read this…

    Tim – how about the public first then the break… so, Leda? No? Yes… Don’t treat the chat like chat. Don’t say things there. Peter?

    Peter Case – I put this in the chat. This wasn’t warned, but these are unusual times. Maybe it could be a policy that is temporary for the next two weeks. Then do something more permanent. But have something in place tonight.

    Leda Scheintaub – from Dosa Kitchen. Getting used to being on this. I didn’t catch the beginning, but really in favor of the mask. It is problematic for people to be nearby without masks. We can show the country that we can do a good job. I’m not going to any store that doesn’t require masks. Why would we do that? It doesn’t seem to make sense. We’re only doing curbside service. Just cracking the door a bit, someone came in without gloves or a mask , from CT, and told him to leave and he got hostile. It ruined my day. I wasn’t sorry to say it, but I didn’t like being mean. There are so many ways to get this wrong. We’re close to NYC. There are already situations where I don’t feel comfortable. Don’t wait two weeks. Keep things safe now.

    Tim – are restaurants excluded from the Governor’s order – eating with a mask on? But for take-out, they should be included.

    Elwell – I prepared a middle ground document, and I took out the exceptions for certain businesses. There is an obvious practical consideration while eating to not wear a mask, but people could sit and wear masks until the food comes. If you are open to the public, employees and visitors need to be wearing masks.

    Tim – I’m seeing nods. Millicent?

    Milicent – whichever way you vote, you could also do other things. You could make masks available or had signs that this is what we are doing. Not just an ordinance, but we are encouraging people and supplying masks. This is how we do things.

    Tim – let’s look at the document. It could be businesses provide masks.

    Kate – I’m not advocating one way or another, but if you do something tonight, consider if it is doable for all businesses. Some are easier for one than another. make sure the policy considers that some can’t buy masks. There is frustration that state isn’t providing guidance.

    Tim – the lack of notice – public health and open meeting laws – an unusual circumstance. Let’s look at the document…

    Elwell – Patrick can you put it up?

    Tim – a break until 8:55pm. Thanks.

  • Part 2 - Requiring Face Coverings for Customers and Employees

    They take turns reading the resolution. Or want to, but Elwell reads it so interpreters can be seen. he assure them it is legal. Basically, all establishments should require face masks…

    Liz – this isn’t an ordinance, it is a resolution.

    Elwell – yes, I prepared this an an emergency ordinance. This is a resolution with an emergency order of the board. (Bob Fisher is on the phone)

    Bob – now you can hear me. Kate’s concerned about this not being warned… we are under a state of emergency and the governor gave this to us on Friday. You can even do an emergency ordinance.

    Ewell reads resolution – emergency order, requiring face coverings in retail stores. To help prevent the spread, since employees are required, and because local municipalities can set restrictions, and COVID-19 is a health threat to Brattleboro, and a face mask protect others from an infection we might not know we have… face covering required in retail stores. May 20 and beyond – all retail establishments shall require staff and customers to wear face coverings while in the establishment. Not on young children under 2, anyone having trouble breathing, or unconscious. Each establishment must post signage at entry and other locations requiring face coverings. In effect until the Brattleboro Selectboard rescinds this or the state of emergency in VT ends.

    Daniel – retail stores? It goes beyond retails stores. Is that misleading?

    Elwell – good point. I think we could say requiring them…

    Ian – two thoughts – as we amend the end, could we warn this for the next meeting for people to speak on this and we could amend this on June 2? Or, to Bob, if we aren’t providing masks or requiring stores to provide them, could that be an issue for someone without one?

    Elwell – he and I discussed it and decided it was like ongoing normal requirements like having shirt and shoes requirement. It’s just unusual circumstances. The Town can’t sup enough, so you’d have to decide if you require the stores to have them.

    Bob – I agree, but it doesn’t require anyone to provide a mask, everyone must wear one. People must have masks and there is a great availability of masks for people to get, and cloth ones can be reused and washed.

    Brandie – this wouldn’t be in there, but a side note – we could have little notecards or fliers for businesses about wear to get cloth masks. When we ask people to cease one behavior we should offer solutions to that behavior.

    Liz- I agree. BAMA has a lot of mask sewers in town. We’d like to publicize ways to get masks.

    Tim – Burlington’s does require businesses to provide masks, but I think this is better. Businesses can provide masks if they want, and anyone without a mask these days is slightly clueless and can wait outside.

    Liz – some businesses can’t provide them.

    Tim – I suggest for tonight… we’re heading toward a very late meeting. We can postpone the water ands were commissioner work. My suggestion would be that we come back in one week and do the check in Ian was proposing. It would go into effect tonight, and we could hear from businesses after one week, and we could do the town business.

    Liz – pass it and revisit it in a week?

    Tim – yes – pass it tonight and move agenda item 9 to next week – May 25, and at that meeting check in on the resolution. It gives us that opportunity.

    Daniel – let’s pass it and see how it goes, and we’ll roll it out and evolve it. There is the communication aspect. Face covering don’t need to be super fancy. People are making masks. Businesses – there is an imperative to provide them even if we don’t require them.

    Tim – I’d tweak it… the CDC recommendation isn’t required but as a father of a 2 year old, it is impossible to see a mask on. You might want to say a child up to 5. It’s a parental issue. That’s my own biased feeling.

    Brandie – I agree with the difficulty of keeping mask on, though children may not be that immune as we thought. Below age 5, they are pretty feral.

    Tim – ahh, okay. Peter?

    Peter Case – I like what Elwell brought forth, and agree with the idea of the 5 year old. I appreciate this effort. We don’t need to provide masks. No shoes no service doesn’t mean we provide shoes. Doesn’t have to be on businesses.

    Liz – I will speak to the BAMA people about publicizing mask collection and distributing.

    Brandie – the mask Brattleboro movement.

    Tim – Micheal?


    Stephanie – I can share info about creating the sign. ‘We’ll happily supply one.’ Businesses didn’t like that on the signs. They didn’t want to have a supply for everyone who walked through the door. We looked for a mask program, so we’d love to look with BAMA.

    Michael – from the Works cafe – I missed the first half of this meeting. Starting tomorrow, are we retiring masks tomorrow if someone wants a cup of coffee.?

    Tim – yes, but no repercussions.

    Michael – how will we inform people? In the Reformer? How do we educate people real quick? What’s the best way?

    Elwell – Tim said this would be bumpy. Tomorrow will be bumpy. It will take a while for people to learn about it. There is good coverage of this meeting. The radio will push this out. Emails lists. There are ways we can get this info out widely. The Reformer will have this Thursday. We need to do what we can to spread the word tomorrow. Hopefully this becomes the new normal for the community.

    Daniel – maybe the big LED boards…

    Elwell – we’ll use the variable message boards to get this out.

    Michael – one question – we have Plexiglas at the registers and at guest pickup. I’ve read that a cashier doesn’t have to wear a mask, but our employees do? How does that work in VT?

    Elwell – the board would require employees and customers to wear masks. The state requires employees to wear masks. It is a cautious approach. The general rule should be that employees and visitors are wearing masks.

    Tim – how do we change the child year?

    Elwell – well change 2 to 5 and be done. And take out that the CDC recommends.

    Brandie – our own common sense law. Brattleboro health officers.

    Ian – what about the CDC?

    Elwell – we changed the number from 3 to 5.

    passed 5-0

  • Third Class Liquor License – Coridon Bratton Catering LLC, d/b/a A Vermont Table

    Elwell – A Vermont Table already has a first class and are seeking third class licenses for hard alcohol. In conjunction with the restaurant there. Everything is in order.

    Coridon Bratton – Hi I’m Cori – I have a restaurant downtown and we opened in February. Looking forward to getting back to it, so we’re taking time now to get the license.

    Tim – you were opened that long and I didn’t get to it.

    Cori – we are doing take out with a streamlined menu. Me and my business partner Same. Personally prepared.

    Tim – you organized a nice set of meals for Groundworks…

    Brandie – thank you.


  • Appoint Andre Jaeger as the Town’s new Finance Director

    Tim – we are going to postpone water and sewer… some happy news.

    Elwell. John O’Connor retired and we’ve been well-served until now, but we have a new finance director. Had a successful second search. The best qualified is Andre Jaeger as the Town’s new Finance Director. He was at Keen State College, and before that for 20 years as an accountant and financial management. Been a resident of this region for a while. Starts tomorrow at 8:30 am. The Town Manager can appoint staff members, but two members get approved by RTM. They deal with state statute. Town Clerk and Treasurer. Selectboard appoints and representative town meeting ratifies.

    Tim – I was in the selection process and we had great candidates. It was a tough battle and am excited to have Andre come on board. Does he go by Andre? Yes?

    Elwell – yes.

    so appointed!

  • Parking Fund Budget, then JAG COVID-19 Reimbursement Grant

    Elwell – we are moving the Utility items as they are large items. parking Fund is more straightforward and there are more things… want to move this to next week. too?

    Yes, defer…

    JAG COVID-19 Reimbursement Grant

    Tim – a grant.

    Elwell – we’ve talked in the past about this being an unusual emergency and we have only some additional costs. WE can get some support form outside outside of FEMA. This is one of those. A Police Department grant application in the amount of $39,730 for a BJA FY20 Coronavirus ESF Program Grant from the Office of Justice Programs to defray expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. We can spend the money on protective equipment and first aid kits, and a supply of PPE.

    so applied…

  • Five County Scattered Site Grant from the Vermont Community Development Program

    (i) Adopt Grant Agreement Resolution (ii) Accept and Appropriate VCDP Grant (iii) Authorize Town Manager to Execute Grant Agreement and Take All Other Actions Necessary to Implement This Grant

    Tim – this always dismays me – scattered site grants.

    Elwell – patrick?

    Patrick – this is a simple and procedural bit of business for these grants. Adopt the grant resolution and accept and appropriate the funding – $375,000 from the Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP) for the Five County Homeownership Service Program of the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust. It was late last year we submitted the grant. The state notified us of a preliminary award. One other point, this is a five county project. A consortium that reaches to Montpelier. It will provide a range of home ownership services to five counties.

    Liz – is the WWHT the lead in the consortium>

    Patrick – they are the lead and will be underwriting the loans. The state has confidence in them. They are the lead agency and we are the lead municipality. Historically Brattleboro homeowners do well under these programs. It highly utilized.

    Tim – says public hearing?

    Patrick – there are two memos with the board packet – one was a cover memo and one was the least memo. Hearings are at application and closeout, so no public hearing is required.

    $375k accepted, and Peter Elwell can execute the documents!

    Tim – I believe that is it. The end of our business. Go out and disseminate rapid information as Brattleboro Health Commissioners. Speak to shop owners.

    Elwell – each of you have your own networks to reach people in town. I will send this out to you so you can send it to facebook tonight.

    Tim – thanks. And for the document to work with. And to Patrick for making this possible.

    Virtual Goto meeting is over

Leave a Reply