Handy Stations were the primary topic of a special virtual meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard. The board approved spending $3,600 on three artistic devices to help people sanitize their hands downtown. If it works out, they may spend even more on keeping people safe.
It was admitted that some hand sanitizer taped to the wall might be significantly less expensive, but a motion-sensing, artist -decorated, musical hand sanitizing station to be adopted and maintained by businesses was the preferred idea. There was also an interesting discussion about the Civil War monument.
Chair Tim Wessel – Tomorrow is tax day – a strange year. This is a special meeting. No remarks, other than we may not be in the same boat, but we’re in the same storm. Stay tuned to the town website.
Elwell – no remarks.
Tim – Fellow selectboard members?
Daniel Quipp – the rental stabilization program began in VT for anyone in arrears – tenants and landlords can apply. People behind on mortgages can also apply. Rental money is first come, first serve, so jump on it.
Tim – anyone else? Time for my reminder to use the chat section to raise your hand, with your name and subject matter if needed. Public participation…. anyone have comments for items not on the agenda? No?
Erin Maile O’Keefe – we also have Chris Hart and Annie Richards. Good meeting last week. The handy stations are locally produced hand sanitizing stations that I designed to accommodate artists and artists are centered in the project – our downtown is open for business. Artists partner with businesses to create motion sensing hand sanitizing stations with a musical component. 20 second original jungles, plus a backdrop for the station. The business adopts the station. Shows we’re open and a way to keep us safe. Downtown Alliance has six points for public safety. The artists will write the instructions for these in an original hand. Three really clear benefits – public health, supporting artists and engineers, and working with local businesses that need support right now.
Annie – As a board member of DBA how well this fits with our mission – supporting economic vitality and diversity of the downtown in supporting businesses trying to make a comeback. Keeping people safe in fun ways.
Erin – 80% of the budget goes to pay for local artistry, engineering and products. Keep the money local.
Liz McLoughlin – are DBA and Chamber contributing?
Erin – the businesses – DBA doesn’t have a budget for this but put people power into it. No current funds from the Chamber. I’m asking the Thompson Trust. I’m aiming for 15 base units. Businesses will take care of each unit and do upkeep and maintenance. I continue to fundraise. When we get the funds we’ll do 15.
Daniel – I went to the Void to talk to them about this and I really like the visual component of it – it draws attention to the business. The feedback they offered was that the musical component wasn’t taking off. Originally I’ve seen this thing before – the jingle is 20 second for hand washing. Hand sanitizing doesn’t need the 20 seconds. With respect, that seems to be an unnecessary expense. That’s one observation. I am curious about the rest of the funding. They are $1200 each – that’s a lot of money. How much have you raised? And, how have you found artists for these?
Erin -I didn’t hear the first part…
Daniel – I don’t think we need the musical component and it could reduce the cost of each unit.
Erin – for public safety – we’ve had 2 months of prototypes. At first I thought they’d be hand washing stations. Businesses couldn’t handle that so we came up with sanitizing. You don’t need them for a full 20 seconds, but you should do it more than most people are doing. There is a public safety component to extending the sanitizing. The music is part of the uniqueness. There will be a map of them, so if you come to town and want to see them, you’ll get artist profiles. They aren’t just icing on the cake. Public health is in there as well, but without artists, the attractiveness of hand sanitizing wouldn’t be there. Music doesn’t add that much to the cost. In terms of finding artists I’ve talked with Out in the Open, and I intend to reach t the Root and …(garbled) so people of color are represented. Equity is important to this. Sponsors want to put them in certain places – like Boys and Girls Club. We could engage youth artists. It is very integral.
Liz – I thought you should air dry your hands with sanitizer so there is a certain timing. Not the same as washing, but an aspect.
Erin – there is a time element.
Daniel – I hear you and yes, the question is whether music encourages you. I’m not sure that is settled. For some it will be annoying. Businesses will here it over and over. The one at the Void was fine, except for the music. According to the business owners. People didn’t want to press the button to play music.
Erin – a local tech teacher will teach a class for youth to make motion sensors. I’ve had calls from parents looking for something for their kids to do. Another piece.
Ian Goodnow – So, I guess I have two sides – the idea seems great. I hadn’t thought about a map, and I’ve been to places where animals have been painted by artists and I look for others. Seems cool. The other side of it is what the role the Town has in this, and what the role of other sources of funding are, and I kinda see that the DBA and Chamber have missions that align with this and want to know in more concrete ways as to how they will support it. Is the Town the first stop? I’m asking the board, not Erin…
Annie – I would say the board is behind this as far as collaborating around outreach. As far as financial budget for that, that’s hard for men to speak to at this point.
Erin – we partnered on this, so she’s an active partner, but not for financial. No budget for this. We’re seeking money elsewhere. Waiting on grants and foundations. It just happens I don’t have any final say from them. Chris Hart helps with grant writing.
Tim – did you mean us the board?
Ian – yes.
Tim – it is not exactly traditional this type of funding for a specific downtown project – it is similar to the parklets. Creative ideas and a human connection. Seems like a great mission. Do I wish them were cheaper? yes, but money is going to local people. I’m pretty positive. Give it a try.
Brandie – (speaks but isn’t heard)
Liz – use the chat, Brandie. My thought is that there is a novelty element to this and an art element. So much of downtown is art centric. Whatever publicity that comes to the downtown and artists is nice. The question I have is say we buy a couple and put one by the Library. That might be nice. Do we like that idea?
Tim – Brandie – the Town’s role is public safety.
Tim – are you in a trailer?
Erin – not
Tim – I’m an RV need.
Daniel an non-RV comment – I’ll be the bad guy. I have a bitter taste about the parklets. WE were told businesses were excited to have these, but that hasn’t been the experience. You say the handy stations have partners – how strong is the commitment. I don’t want to spend money that we might walk back. There are cheaper ways..
Erin – yes – you could do it much more cheaply – tape Purel to the wall.
Annie – what’s the bottom line agreement with businesses…
Erin – those I’ve spoken with are verbally excited, and I’ve gotten good feedback running the trial. I modify the trial each week. We’ve had focused efforts on this and it gets better each week. I can give you a list of businesses.
Daniel – I can take your word for it.
Tim – there is some ticking because of some earring. An audio diagnosis.
Brandie – Can you hear me now? OK. I hope my comment was clear – keeping hands clean is something good we can take on, and the art component makes it Brattleboro. The town stands behind the creativity of the community as well.
Tim – if the board is reluctant, would you commit to three now, and three more if other sponsors come in?
Liz – yes – Erin can take it and run with it, and help drum up other funding. It will go a long way. A novel idea for a community challenge. A way to incorporate art into the pandemic.
Ian – is my audio making that weird sound? I think it is a good idea. It gives Erin and Annie time to come back and answer questions. I also have a bitter taste as well and want to know who supports this. Can we decide where all three of ours go?
Tim – the idea is businesses adopting these. Liz?
Liz – tentatively, the library, if they want it. The other two could be discussed.
Tim – Chris Hart is having audio issues -” we need someone to jump into the water first”
Peter Elwell – Starr would love one at the Library.
Daniel – what about the Rec Center?
Ian – or the post office
Daniel – that’s federal. The Rec center has humans going into it, right?
Annie – want the business list before designating the other two?
Liz – sure, but we can still do three now, right?
Elwell – you can do three now and consider further investment once you see others are investing as well. One at the Library would be great, and I’ll go out on a limb and say just one at the Library and two to be distributed would be best.
Daniel – more on the musicians…
Erin – Peter Seigel is our music director and he is reaching out to local musicians – once we have funding we’ll put it together – it’s a diverse list he has. That’s his field so I’m leaving it to him.
Daniel – I can trust him on this.
Erin – we have a string equity lens. I’m working with the arts council of windham county, too. Not necessary to engage established artists.
Daniel – I hear you, and I would say there are lots of established artists in the area from all backgrounds. These things need to look nice.
Erin – yes, and there will be art direction as well. The more we have, the more artists we can show off. If we had 50 around town…
Gary Stroud –
Tim I really don’t like to read comments, but Gray was wondering if the Transportation Center will be getting one. We’ve already talked this out. .. we are doing three.
Liz – a good idea, but save it for the second round.
Ian – there are businesses there that could be approached.
Erin – I think it would be worthwhile to talk about what businesses but also locations all over town.
Liz – maybe Peter could help give an overview of the town to collaborate…
Tim ready to make a motion?
Motion is approved! 3 units at $3600 total for handy stations, one at Brooks Memorial Library.
Annual Financial Plan – Town Highways – Approve Town’s Submittal to VTrans
Steve Barrett – Good evening. You can hear me? I’m here to seek approval for the annual financial plan of town highways for VT. It makes us eligible for funding sources that will come to Brattleboro – hundreds of thousands each year. Important we approve this. Any questions?
Ian – In the materials we got, in the plan, there are three classes of highway. What does it mean?
Steve – Class 1 is Main ST, Western Ave – shared roadways with the state. Class 2 are connector roads – Upper Dummerston – that makes us eligible for funding, and Class 3 are all of our side streets, Whipple, oak. Class 4 are gravel roads not maintained. Class 3 can be gravel. Class 1, 2, and 3 make us eligible. Every city in the state divided the funds available.
Ian – what the ration for Brattleboro class roads?
Steve – Class 1 – 6.5 miles. Class 2 – 13 miles. Class 3 is about 60 miles. There are 85 miles of roads in Brattleboro that are eligible for funding.
Route 9 Bike Lane Scoping Project – Award Contract for Consultant Services
Tim – bike scoping…
Sue Fillion – It’s fun to pop up on you all. So, I’m here to ask you to approve us awarding the bid to the Dufresne Group. Planning for Rt bike lanes from exit 2 to Main Street. We got a bike plan scoping grant to look at the possibilities. WE released and RFP in May, got proposals, and reviewed them. This proposal ranked the highest, with good observations of the area. It’s a $40k project and will also look at some pedestrian crossing issues. It has a defined scope. There will be public meetings or a survey. There is a public process. Happy to answer questions
Liz – It’s an important topic. Town and Planning Commission has been working on these issues for a long time, and this is an important segment.
Tim – we discussed this at Traffic Safety Committee and everyone thought it would be good to do a study to understand the issues. I shared some imaginings and it caused concerns. This is public process.
Ian – I’ll pile on with good words. Part of what I ran on was pedestrian and bike safety. I’m on a portion of this road so it affects me. It’s a heavily used way into town. Glad the public will be involved. With other bike lane projects, there is no real push to have barriers. Is that something that is even possible.
Sue – it might be possible. They use barriers when it is a two way bike lane on one side of the street. They will look at 3 alternatives. It is possible there could be a design with a barrier.
Daniel – grant money for the most part, and a public works match.
Elwell – thanks for mentioning that. We’ve had a good relationship with VTrans – they are a big organization but we have good communication and collaboration and this is an example. They told us to apply for the grant to do a more formal study. Now we can move forward and think it through more fully.
Tim – a lot of considerations.
Ian – if I were a member of the public and wanted to get involved, how would I do it?
Sue – we’ll work those details out, promote it, town website… we’ve done a mailing for property owners along the road. We’ll use many methods.
Liz – if Sue tells the selectboard, we can tell everyone about it.
Elwell – the Traffic Safety Committee will help, too.
Tim – thanks to everyone who applied…
Boards and Committees
Elwell – you have two appointments tonight. Nina Wilson has applied to be on the ADA committee, and one for the Honor Roll – Sam Haskins has applied. Nina is applying for reappointment.
Liz – what is the honor roll committee?
Tim – my question, too.
Elwell – in charge of the Veterans Monument at the Common and I believe they look at the one at the Veterans Bridge. Making sure we recognize service to the country in an appropriate manner.
Rikki Risatti – does the honor roll committee have the list of the 65 missing soldiers not added to the civil war monument?
Elwell – we are looking – there aren’t names on that monument. The Civil War Monument lists a number of people who served and died. We know those numbers are wrong – more people served and died, and there is evidence that is racism and classicism at the time of the monument. Total details aren’;t completely clear yet. I’ve been communicating with people who are will to look deeper into this – to find out what else needs to be known to know as much of the truth, and a recommendation to correct it. That group will include a racial equality lens, a class equity lens, a vet’s lens, and historic preservation. Student snap historical society have been bringing this to the community. We may have to dig deeper. We’ll keep you informed, and we’ll right this wrong.
Rikki – thanks.
Tim – good question – we are all looking forward to correcting the numbers, and looking at this history.
Peter – we hope the collaborative process to correct the mistake will be an opportunity for learning and healing for the community. Late 19th century social conditions… and it is being called out now. We’ll go through this as a community in a public way. Hopeful the process brings us together.
Tim – kudos to students and other folks, and the honor roll, and the historical society. The Common used to have a church on it that was moved. Fascinating history. I’m babbling.
Ian – thanks for the question and answer. Which is the Veteran’s bridge?
Elwell – the one over the West River, there are flags there. Kyle Gilbert bridge is at Main Street.
Tim – approve the candidates? (he compels Ian to make the motion..)
Both approved. 4-0, with Brandie dropped connection.
Daniel – I approve of these…
Meeting adjourned by a reasonable 7:27 pm.