Selectboard Meeting Notes – Safety Items Move Forward, Carbon Neutral, and New Energy Fund

The Brattleboro Selectboard approved of moving forward with the recommendations of the Town manager regarding the Community Safety Review Committee recommendations. Everything that can be underway is underway.

The board decided to go for a 6% investment in Cow Power and created a new fund with $70k  to help reduce emissions and consumption.

Comments | 8

  • Preliminaries

    Pre-meeting banter – a ladybug on Daniel’s screen, signs of spring, skating with a sail, slings and shoulders, patience…

    Chair Tim Wessel – we discussed employee matters in executive session. A comment on our minutes…

    Kurt Daims – I object to the minutes because they don’t reflect the conversation on cow power. I’ve written to the Town and been assured that the resolution of 2018 would be addressed at the same time as the energy committee’s recommendation. No one on the board was aware of the origin until Peter made it clear to them. That should be included. It was on the agenda because of BCS and me. Tim mischaracterized my remarks as “attacks” so I’d like the record to be corrected.

    Ian Goodnow – as the Clerk, I stand by the minutes as they are and the board can decide to approve them or not through a vote.

    Daniel Quipp – I was wondering if there were certain lines to amend. If they were numbered we could know which line he believes is inaccurate.

    Tim – I want to say that there are a number of things Kurt mixed in there. One of them… the minutes are a record of what happened. What actions were taken. They don’t have to have this much detail, but they are helpful, so I think they are excellent overall. You’d never alter them to make something appear that didn’t happen, so that’s a strange take in my opinion. The other things are precise things that happened. I didn’t see anything, but if board members feel there are changes needed…

    Brandie Starr – I took minutes for a long time. We have to leave these alone. They are what transpired in the meeting, not in the formation of an agenda. The minutes have to stay exactly as it was. You have to take a vote, but I don’t see how they can be changed.

    Liz McLoughlin – we’d take a vote. The minutes from this meeting would record Kurt’s statement’s and be on the record.

    Peter Elwell – in addition to being proper, and Kurt’s comments will be in the next minutes – it’s all true, and it is the law. You are obligated to do it this way… the record can’t be “how it should have gone”… this meeting will reflect that concerned was raised.

    minutes approved

    Tim – Chair’s remarks.Today I stood outside with some candidates in very cold temperatures. It reminded me of doing that with Brandie and acknowledge that moment four years later. This isn’t your last meeting but your penultimate. I’ll miss her.

    Peter Elwell – I want to take a moment officially to have a transition decades in the making. Chief Bucossi is retiring on April 1, and we’ve been through a vetting process with lenny Howard as asst Chief. I’ve appointed him as of April 1. There will be addition moves within the department. Important times for people who have prepared themselves for promotion can step up, but also thank Mike for 43 years, and the last 14 as Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator – through Irene, Wilder fire, and Brooks House fires. He helped save those buildings, and no loss of life. As a community we will find to properly recognize folks post COVID.

    Tim – it has been ahuge privilege to work with Mike and Lenny and be part of the transition team. A trait both of them have is that both are very interested in lifting up those around them, those that work for them, and people who do the right thing over the easy thing. I’m please that this transition will be smooth.

    Brandie – I also want to say that it was weird not to be running for office today, and it reminds me of when Tim and I ran the first time, together. Robin Morgan was with us. It’s been an incredible 4 years. It will be hard and sad. Thank you to Mike – that is an incredible record, and Lenny is a fantastic human being – nothing but kindness, gentleness.. it will be a wonderful thing for the town.

    Daniel – congrats to them both – all that Brandie said was true. I wanted to thank people at BMH. I had a pretty traumatizing accident yesterday when I fell down basement stairs, and I dislocating my shoulder. I went to the hospital and got seen so quickly, took good care of me, fixed me up, and it didn’t hurt too much. While the US health care is frustrating – the care level her was good. I appreciate it. Got right in and out. Catching up on movies today. I was on the ballot today but not at the polls. I thank all town staff who make this election happen. Still time to got vote. I look forward to the results.

    Ian Goodnow – As Daniel mentioned – I spent the day outside in this weather. I want to thank Hilary Francis, Board of Civil Authority and all volunteers. The time and energy you give – I’m so appreciative of that. 25 minutes left to go vote.

    Liz McLoughlin – Daniel’s injury was a recycling injury and I want to commend him for sustainability actions. Also, COVID is happening and we need to remain mindful. It would be sad to get sick when the hope of a vaccine is around the corner. Sorry to see Texas open up without masks. Glad VT is more cautious.

    public participation

    Gary Stroud – hello and good evening. Great to see everyone out there campaigning. Ian, I didn’t know you were that tall. He’s a tall glass of water. Everyone was stranding tall out there. Daniel my heart goes out to you. I’ll be doing PT up there myself. I want to thank Mike – I was in a fire at 17 Elms Street and they were outstanding. They still ask me how I’m doing. Mike, I’m going to miss you. If you want t do some fishing, I can show you some good fishing holes. Brandie, you’ll be missed. I’ll look forward to working with the new selectboard members. Sign up and get your shots. Thanks and good luck.

  • Community Safety Review Team’s Recommendations – Information from Town Staff and Recommended Next Steps

    Tim – an important report from Town staff…

    Peter Elwell – so, this has been a long time in the makings dn the one overriding point I’ll make is that moving from the raising of concerns through the review and recommendations to this moment of additional information – that process is very much just the beginning. Now we’ll begin something that goes on and on. Much is very complex. I ask that you and we view this as a body of work rather than particular pieces. There will be lots of pieces, but if we focus on the totality and getting started. This is additional information that sheds light on the recommendations. It is not meant to replace or recast this recommendations. When we listed the identifiable actions, we took the recommendations verbatim. The board asked us to bring additional info, and that is the intention. To provide context for moving forward with the work. I’ll have more summary remarks to make in a few minutes. I’d like to pause for a moment and lay the foundation for that with an acknowledgment. One thing is clear – to sincerely acknowledge the harm experienced and committing to personal and orginzaztional revoking with that, and the importance of it means I need to express it fully. In prior meeting there have been expressions of this type. I’m offering this on behalf of myself and Town staff, to respect our role in this. Up until now we have tried to stay in the wings on this. This is my opportunity to offer this acknowledgement and commitment – reads it from memo – (white people holding power has perpetuated systemic racism that caused and caused harm to POC and this harm is not only overt but also unintentional bias – the harm extends beyond POC to LQBTQ, those with disabilities and other historically marginalized… we acknowledge that people in our community have experienced harm from our systems, and we have an obligation to more fully understand the harm and reduce it as we move forward, so we commit ourselves to an ongoing process of reckoning and will approach this work with humanity and reflection, with groups impacted by this…) I’m not going to speak to the specific recommendations in the report. My advice is to not go to those details and getting distracted from the fuller body of work. The memo I sent speaks to the pace and time frame of this work. There is a dynamic tension between the urgent need to address needs and the equal need for us to move slowly enough to be thoughtful and fully engage with the community about actions and results, so we can adjust and correct as we go forward. One thing I’ve come to appreciate in the last 6 weeks or so… during that time, the work we did and the people we worked with, what I came to appreciate is that this ambiguity – that actually is an essential part of this work. Part of what caused us to bring this forward like this – it is important to get started, and we have to have faith that we’ll find our way forward. Some things will be light lifting and we can implement quickly. Other parts will be more complex. All sorts of layers to this. She parts will be clear and other parts will not. What’s important is that we not try to overly resolve those questions now… but move forward and trust ourselves to find the proper pace. That may seem too mushy, so we propose there be regular updates at selectboard meetings, and the community can, at those public moments, ask how we are doing, what priorities emerge, and so on. In places where we hit barriers, to be frank with one another and resolve them if we can, or sort them with what is being accomplished. It’s going to be messy, long, and require lots of people with lots of areas of expertise.And priorities. The accountability piece makes sure there is room for adjusting, recalibrating… the way to stay accoutable is to keep coming tot his public forum to express what is happening and work together to refine the path forward. In the table we provided, we have three columns. A word on format: the left column has the exact wording. The center column is meant to indicate whether the Town can implement something unilaterally. We’ll work on these things together collaboratively. Where we have identified NO, we are calling out that those are even more challenging because either the Town doesn’t have fun authority to act. The third column has some notes and descriptive information, for the NO and YES items. It should help indicate some context to how we see these things might move forward, and what the Town can take action on. With all that as introduction, the recommended action is to direct us to get started with this as described, so we can engage with the community and come back in a few months to report.

    Tim – thanks. A great summary of a large amount of work already. Board?

    Daniel – I thank Peter and staff and Town Attorney, the CSRC, and I’m ready to hand it over to professionals as Peter has described. It might be slow but we’re building new systems, so it is appropriate that it will be long, collaborative processes. When the community talks to me they ask about a concrete thing… I’m not charged with implementing these things . I turn it over to people interested in building and implementing and I first the Town manager to report back to us, and we’ll ave further discussions. I’m ready for a motion.

    Brandie – I want to thank peter for all of that – the acknowledgment of harm to the recommendation to move forward. Not too interested in kicking it around. I want to move it forward tonight.

    Tim – kicking around helps those watching know the mood of the board.. to clarify.

    Ian – Peter and everyone else… it was a lot of great work. Very impressive. It’s way we asked you to do. We’re speaking about moving this forward, and I want to do it successfully. This is the right way… for those who feel it is too slow or too fast, this isn’t the last time we’re looking at this. It isn’t the end, but it is the right next step to do the work that the committee report asks.

    Liz – I want to go back to last June where the board unanimously determined we’d take this dive, and am appreciative of the work Peter and the staff did to identify steps forward, and some work has already begun. What can be done by us, by our partners… we collaborate with all the various committees and people who have standing in this process and I’m optimistic that it will be the positive change everyone wants.

    Tim – I was skeptical of moving forward in this manner at first. I thought a better way would be to dive into the list and that would have had some quicker action, but wouldn’t honor the work of the committee. Some decisions people won’t agree with, and some people will be very happy about. To move forward as a body without prioritizing was a smart move and I was wrong to resist it. It’s the right way to go.

    Ian – It’s a good point. It also gives the board and community to be more informed about each individual item… there is so much to learn. WE need to look at other work being done in other communities, too. Good point. I second it.

    Tim – it also occurs to me that it kinda feels like it future-proofs the work a bit. We’re giving a road map to a future board. If we did some actions tonight….who knows about the rest. To look at it as a body is more future proof.

    George Carville – I’ve read the report and the memo and chart. It’s an excellent framework and I need more diversity training, but I find something missing, overarching. We put police in impossible situations. Lose lose situations. The BPD is the hired muscle for other organizations – body cams should be on the DCF people. The Town has work to do with the police, we need need to step back and decide if our police resources are being used in the best way, and if the requirements and request for their services should be handled by someone else.

    Daniel – I want to prod Brandie – would you like to make this motion?

    Brandie – I move Town staff to move forward on the implementation of the CSRT report…


    Elwell – thank you

  • Cow Power – Recommendation from the Energy Committee

    Tim – deep breath… our next is Cow Power and the energy committee recommendation

    Elwell – Stephen Dotson will summarize the materials he brought forward. The board asked questions at the last meeting…

    Stephen Dotson – you should have received a word doc and a spreadsheet. I tried to distiguish different uses of Town electricity. Three categories – and two levels of commitment – broken out by segments. I tried to make it as clear as possible. It was two weeks ago that we discussed this and I talked to GMP and asked about impact, and would that be more support for local farms. There is likely one farm that has methane digesters in Westminster, but I haven’t confirmed it. I know they have the digester but not sure if it is part of their program. It’s still a meaningful investment. oscar heller is here to talk about the proposal, and Django Grace as well

    Tim – I appreciate cool charts. Board? Should we take public comment or start chiming in? Oscar? Questions for Stephen?

    Daniel – thanks for the work. You answered our questions. Hello Oscar.

    Oscar – no presentation but happy to answer questions.

    Django – nothing from me

    Tim – there are some disagreements on the board…

    Daniel – I was interested in investing as the energy committee recommendation, and this doesn’t change my mind. We should make this bold investment in renewable energy.

    Ian – I am also in favor of this for full 37%. As I understand it, members of the board believed buildings were more the will of the people based on earlier votes in 2018. Looking at material provided, the buildings at 37% would be lower amount and the full amount would be $42,885. Is that difference, to get to 100% carbon neutral and renewable is it worth it, or are we were last week?

    Tim – a couple of points of disagreement. For myself, I think you are speaking to the expansion from the votes, because they had to do with town buildings – new and renovated… and Daims proposal was for “town buildings”. I think the expansion into all town electricity makes sense. I still think we should do something else, the expansion makes sense and is within the spirit of the votes. I wanted to acknowledge that there was an expansion from buildings to all electricity the town uses. I’ll let it go, to clear that up.

    Brandie – what I read and saw and heard last time…I was in favor of it. I don’t have a lot of questions – I trust the committee and Stephen. I’m in favor. I have to give extra kisses. Usually we have snuggle time but we aren’t doing that on selectboard nights.

    Liz – I want to address a procedural issue. I work on the Town Plan for many years, and when I joined the board the work on the Town Plan was already commenced. We brought it to the board, and some major tenets of the plan the board said no. I was teen back, but it is how town government works. It wasn’t dismissing the work of the planning board, but a review by a broader board. I respect the work the sustainability coordinator and energy committee has prepared.. I appreciate all of that, but I have a couple of points. First, a municipality contributing to cow power is unprecedented, and cow power was not set up that way. It’s not appropriate for Brattleboro taxpayers to invest in cow power to such a large degree. We want to say we invested and we want you residents to do that as well. We can do that at the 6% level, and we’ll still be the one and only Brattleboro. There was mention of lots of work to determine our carbon sequestration. We can do a back of the envelope calculation. 60% of the town is treed and trees can absorb – we have significant carbon sequestration in town. We can estimate without a whole big study. Ultimately, the taxpayers should not have to pay a surcharge of 8-9% on our electric bill. Almost a million dollars. This adds 43k. It’s not monopoly money and the board must decide among options. The more modest sum makes the point the committee wants to make. What I want to hear more about are efforts for energy efficiency, rather than paying a premium on the electricity we use. I’d suggest the 6% option and start a fund of $30k to fund energy efficiency purchase that would lead to savings. I’d like board members to think about splitting this baby to make the 6% donation to cow power but also set up a fund for energy efficiency with the remaining $30k. I can make a motion if people are looking for that…

    Ian – to Liz – I can’t let that sit. I don’t appreciate the insinuation that anyone on the board thinks of money as monopoly money. We’re all carefully weighing all of the spending decisions. I don’t appreciate that characterization.

    Liz – that wasn’t directed at anyone… just hyperbole regarding the fact that this is not merely numbers on paper and I think everyone understands that and I meant no disrespect.

    Django – I’d like to say I think that there is a line between…. I need to collect my ideas…

    Oscar – this proposal is not going to change the world or huge things for Brattleboro. I’ve heard positions expressed so I could just keep my mouth shut, but in the interest of good dialogue, I’ll respond to Liz. I understand that the selectboard job is to look at what it is given, and not just rubber-stamping. I don’t feel disrespected. I feel like too much is made of cow power not having another municipality – but another town have 100% renewable isn’t new. It isn’t storage. It doesn’t exist out of GMP and is under publicized, but is common for towns to pay a premium for 100% renewable. It’s not an experiment. We pay dfor something and we get it. We’re paying for renewable electricity. Us choosing to spend on this kind of electricity which is more valuable, to me, and others. The reason people want this think it is worth the cost to be 100% renewable. Reducing everything to the financial side of things is one of the reasons we’re all in this position. Why did we use coal and oil? It’s cheaper and easier. On a moral level we need to eat the cost, less we don’t think it is worth it as a community. It is values and preferences. The back of the envelop could be bad to overcoat and feel better than we should – it is a technical process that I’d be happy to discuss. This won’t change the world but I hope it passes.

    Django – I think Liz’s idea of establishing fund is a good idea, but not part of this. A operate motion to do green purchasing is a good idea. To generalize the land we are on as part of carbon sequestration… it isn’t a responsible position. To speak for the trees, it isn’t a good way to look at it. We could go on for hours with this discussion, but let’s not.

    Tim – my position hasn’t changed. Renewable is kinda depends on who you ask, and has lots of definitions. What is renewable and what is not. Cow Power is not auditable by Brattleboro taxpayers, and want to see actions that cause us to conserve energy or restrict energy, and I don’t think cow power meets that criteria at the 37% commitment. Seeing the charts was great. Cool to see the data on town electricity being used. We spend a lot on electricity and not spending that electricity is better than paying indulgences going forward. This will be added to the taxpayer bills. The program is col and worth supporting and supports renewable energy, but I advocate for something we can spend money on that will actually produce things that will reduce our consumption or emissions. An example – I recall we talked about the police station. Many people asked for a wood boiler. We converted from oil to natural gas. That choice was made due to money. better, but not much. But not what we really wanted. What if we had a fund to tap into? We’re committing to this now – year after year, right? It’s going to keep going unless a board repeals it. I advocate and Liz supports taking the difference – 30k – to invest in a fund to reduce electricity and fossil fuels to stop emissions and reduce consumption. It feels more real to me. The 6% is a fine level nd we can put a feather in our cap about carbon neutrality,. plus we’d have a fund… that’s my pitch.

    Daniel – I don’t hate it. Energy issues got me interested in town governing. There was an energy audit. Much didn’t happen due to timing. There could have been a project to tie municipal center and library heating, so there was a stopgap purchase to tide us over. The only thing about the fund is that 30k doesn’t go too far. It’s not nothing, but if we were to be serious, maybe we should take more time to think about it. The decisions we need to make about heating systems come up at certain moments, and if there isa fund that helps subsidize things it isn’t a bad idea. The water treatment plant is going to be energy efficient, using heat pumps. It happens in the moment. If the fund could help us move toward energy efficiency an away from fossil fuels, I’d support it. I want more time to think about it. Din’t know this would come up.

    Tim – it doesn’t need to be a small fund. If it will be spent on projects that have to be done anyway, taxpayers might like banking for green choices in the future. It would have more support.

    Liz – it is an option to go with 6% now and have more time to work on the green energy fund.

    Kurt Daims – I think I should be empaneled for this discussion because the resolution that started this came from my organization and was approved in 2018. IT was an emergency resolution that brought about this debate. It’s distressing it has taken three years. To introduce complicating proposals isn’t right. Non-binding doesn’t mean ignore it. Very distressing that you are taking so long and coming up with distractions and counter proposals. Because my organization endorsed it, I thought I should be on the panel to talk about it. Anyway, it was intended to be a simple thing to show people’s willingness to spend on climate rescue. There was great support for it. I reminded the board it could be implemented with one phone call in 2018. And that didn’t happen. It seems like there has been to much delay and penny pinching. If you see a child growing you don’;t say you want to use the cheaper float. The board has been denying this emergency. Justice delayed is justice denied. Collectively this is denial, even if all of you support the climate. Please, let’s do it.

    Daniel – I don’t know why…if this was such a critical thing to be passed, why bring it up as any other business… why not get it on a ballot, in the warned articles. You want to be in the front of this issue. If this is so important, why not do it to have more standing?

    Kurt – it is a vote of RTM – non-binding. It means that it hasn’t been warned and the board could tweak it. I brought it to a vote 3 times. We worked on this since 2010. Don’t say it was just non-binding. That’s your RTM dude and you should have more respect for it.

    Daniel – there are other avenues to make this binding. I care deeply about this topic and want to do the right thing, as are others, and you characterize us as dragging our feet and denialist – it doesn’t serve your cause.

    Kurt – sorry to use those coarse words… you have dragged your feet.

    Tim – this is before us because we wanted to wait until we had Dotson to do research for us, the energy committee to do research. The energy committee brought this to us. Kurt planted a seed and it has grown. It has expanded beyond buildings… all electricity usage. That’s more appropriate. You don’t have “standing” here because this comes from the sustainability coordinator and energy committee and would be more powerful that way. I understand it can be frustrating, but we had no obligation to have Just seated at this table. Let’s move forward with he actual arguments – there are two sides and reasonable arguments about how to use taxpayer money.

    Michael Bosworth – a couple notes. I’m in favor of voting for the 42k to energy needs. Global climate change is a huge problem. This will help. The new proposal, I’ll let you wrestle with it. Cow power would be easier if there were two dairy farms in Brattleboro with digesters. In Westminister is a cow power farm, I’m pretty sure. The other thing is that it generates renewable energy and takes methane out of the atmosphere.

    Abigail Mnookin – i work with 350 VT – the state organization for climate justice. I support this proposal, and it isn’t the end game. It’s a step. We believe in divesting from fossil fuels, no new fossil fuel projects, and transition to green energy. A question to ask – what can Brattleboro do? We’re so small… we can’t do anything,…and who is paying. Cheap energy means someone else is paying. When we get cheap energy, others are suffering. 350 is about climate justice. Climate change affects all of us, but not equally. One group most impacted is the youth in our community, and they will pay for this far more than older folks now. Money we invest today takes away from the exhorbinate costs we have to face later. It’s a real investment in youth, in this movement, and am grateful for the youth voice and standing up to intense pushback. Listen to Django and vote yes.

    Tim – our break! I’d like to take a break. Back at 8:20.

  • Cow Power Pt 2

    pre-banter about punctuality and toddlers

    Tim – where were we. We were sort of at a breaking point. We have a few more hands up. Kurt has already spoken. Board?

    Ian – people who haven’t spoken yet.

    Jeannie – i’m a resident of Brattleboro since 2012. Some observations – I can understand Daims’ frustration. He’s been working on this for some time. $42k doesn’t seem like such a huge deal given the overall budget. I’m having trouble understanding why we’d start a fund for something when cow power is available and relative inexpensive renewable energy. Why does it seem so far out of range?

    Tim – It’s more about where the effort toward the energy use should go and there’s a disagreement on the value of spending on a program mostly outside of Brattleboro. Liz and I say invest less in cow power and spend more to reduce use and emissions. No one is arguing that it is a huge amount, but is huge enough to be careful how we spend it.

    George Carvill – – I’m on the social action committee at All Souls Church and have been studying climate for two years. This amount of money is a worthwhile expenditure and look at it a year from now, but it is the right thing to do. We don’t worry about taxes for repairing roads – there are things we must do, and in this day and age, these are things a municipality has to do.

    Ian – looking this a year from now… could it be its own line item so it can discussed? It’s not something we need to commit to for more than a year. Could each year Brattleboro could make this commitment to this fund?

    Elwell – the material answer is yes, the specific mechanics might be a bit tricky to show its own line item, but we could report to you each year about this item so you can decide for the next year.

    Ian – given the point that we’re paying a premium and not getting any more.. I can see a board deciding each year rather than folding it in without any discussion.

    Elwell – the specific question about a line item… iffy… depends on the ability to segregate payment of our energy bills, but we can make sure this cost is isolated so the selectboard can look and decide if it should continue.

    Daniel – can we look at it next year … it will show that we’ll spend 42k… but it is a percentage, and so over time that number will change and if we move in the direction I think, we’ll move toward more electrification – we won’t see smaller electric bills. I’m overstepping my knowledge. I’m open to Liz’s suggestion but 30k is too small. More like $70k

    Liz – every year. It adds up.

    Tim – that was interesting. I love being surprised.

    Gary Stroud – I was listening and am a graph guy, too, Tim. I got my electric bill and looking at the itemization on here, this is something I never saw – past storm and past fix charge. Emerald ash borer charge – 18 cents. As a taxpayer and consumer and on a fixed income, I would like this project help decrease.. the windstorm, every wind storm we lose the power, but you get charged for the wind. They are building the substation. If cow poop can save us, so be it. I look at the cost analysis and how much energy we’re using. I don’t want to be like Texas. God forbid we get a storm like that here. Imagine a snow storm like that here. We don’t want to be caught in that position. We’re going in uncharted territory. This is all part of the future, and we need to make that small investment. GMP keeps taking on fees. What is GMP doing for the consumer? Are they really helping? If we could find an alternative that will help us move into the future rather than relying big corporations. They call the shots. Where else can you get energy? Green Mountain Power.

    Tim – alright –

    Liz – I propose a motion and see if people like it or wan to amend it. I move to invest enough 6% to be carbon neutral and invest yearly $30k min toward energy reduction or emission reduction…

    Tim – in our tradition, I’m not sure…

    Daniel – I would change…same as what she said but I’d amend to be $70k. The reason? When the energy committee did an analysis of electricity use in town buildings, the 100% is about $80k. It costs a lot to transform energy systems, so I’d like enough to make a difference.

    Tim – up to you, Liz…

    Liz – I accept the friendly amendment. We can invest in cow power and our own transformation to be more efficient going forward.

    Brandie – I smell and agreement.

    Elwell – not terrible at all. I offer a suggestion to make sure the selectboard and others no more explicit the boundaries of the uses of this fund… the framing you’ve done tonight is sufficient to establish intention to establish fund of $70k, and we understand the general purposes. Because this is happening in the middle of the discussion – I want to make sure it is clear. Keep going, but at a future meeting we come back with information to frame this fund more explicitly.

    Tim – Liz said some thins but be more specific?

    Elwell – this doesn’t impact the wording or function of the motion. I just want to make sure some clarification will be helpful when we come to making decisions about spending it.

    Liz restates motion…

    Ian – is this a one time 70k thing? Look at it next year? And, are we giving direction back to the energy committee about getting to 100% renewable? Should they look at other ways? This doesn’t answer that question. If it isn’t worth the expense, maybe we provide that clarity.

    Tim – lost my train of thought.. I think..what I was going to says gone… I’m getting older…

    Liz- let’s think about hat. Cow power would be yearly with notification, and same with this fund. let’s assess it every year. It’s also important to maybe have something like a joint meeting with other committees to have a general discussion.

    Tim – I hd conversations with Django and Oscar and we chatted things out. Oscar expressed that it would be helpful to know the will of the board for the work they are doing. It can be confusing…

    Elwell – I think you should pass what you are doing tonight as an action that you are going to invest it in this way and you intend to create the fund. Because this is happening without some work around the framing… to avoid misunderstandings later we should all expect to come back and talk about implementing your intentions, to adopt more formally with the community.

    Tim – My grimaces to the 70k has more to do with it not being warned at those numbers, but it is within the discussion parameters.

    Ian – to clarify, can we have the 6% investment also now be the line item, just like at the 37%…it should be discussed. (yes)

    Tim – it could be bad or we might want to make a bigger investment.

    Stephen Dotson makes comments but I posted election results… sorry Stephen..

    Django – it should be the fossil fuel free fund… 4F… cool. This seems like a way to take us away from cow power. Maybe this is a personal opinion. Being come up with on the fly but I feel like it is being used as a tool to take votes away from cow power and many community members… I’m ok with $70k, and didn’t we come to vote on cow power. It’s innovation.

    Daniel – I get where you are coming from and din’t know this was coming. If I know my fellow board members.. probably spent days pondering this. I trust other board members. Liz and Tim made no bones about liking the full investment and we disagreed. This alternative path – we get a small investment and we could change in the future, but opens up this other avenue. Ian – we get another shot at this – I want to make real change here. The investment in cow power was good, and this new opportunity has opened up and I’m trying to make it better.

    Ian – It is innovative and on the fly but also like the idea that this fund will help us reduce. I’m grateful for this and it makes a lot of sense.

    Liz – I’m excited that yo are excited. I wanted to split the baby. Something more local and energy efficient in Brattleboro. The innovative idea is Tim’s and I give him all the credit for coming up with this fund idea and I appreciate the collaboration. This is a way to achieve a couple of things.

    Tim – it was a team effort.

    Brandie – I hear where Django is coming from. It’s good to wait when things suddenly … don’t lose that skill. I’m okay getting some of what I want plus more of what I didn’t know I wanted… there is that feeling when things change, am I being fast-talked? Don’t lose that pause, that question.

    Oscar – I won’t take long. I’ve been thinking this over. I’m optimistic. It’s more money and there is plenty to spend it on, depending on the details. It could be good and a good compromise that invests a substantial amount in what is important and addresses some concerns. if this can be a middle ground it could turn out really well so I’m optimistic. That’s good.

    Kurt Daims – I feel things are moving along. I want to thank you. The big step was to lump it all together. I hope there could be an amendment to go to 37%… and $70k.

    6% carbon neutral level and intention to create the $70k per year 4F fund… approved! 5-0

  • Downtown Transportation Grant for Depot Street Parking Lot – Authorize Application

    Patrick Moreland – good evening. Seeking your support for a grant application to agency of commerce and development for a grant to expand the Depot Street parking lot. Briefly, the context… most recall last November Amtrak announced a new station for Brattleboro. In December you liked at station plans and new station was on the east side of the tracks, taking up 10-11 parking spaces. Staff brought a plan to expand parking lot by 35 spaces, gaining 25 spaces. At $365k. We had $250k set aside for train station work. As project evolved, the town could support ADA work by helping with parking. WRC Brownfields program is working on the cap, and historic review of archery building. Stevens is doing design. The Amtrak project happens the following year, so this year needs to be for parking. Amtrak will take up all the space with contraction space. We need to sequence the project this way. WRC has consultants helping. Stevens consulting with Amtrak do make it look seamless. Tonight we have a grant application for a Downtown Transportation Grant in the amount of $100,000. Don’t often have eligible projects. It needs to be municipal property, it has to be for new infrastructure, and is has to be located in a designated downtown. There is a funding gap for this project, we’ll be competitive, and it is an important community need. The grant program asks for a project recommended by planning commission. Sue Fillion was there…

    Sue – Planning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend. They added a sentence that they’d advocate for a smaller parking lot so close to the river. It will require DRB review and the Planning Commission can weigh in. There is tension over the right amount of parking there. The station will cause a loss in parking.

    Patrick – thank you, Sue. Happy to take any questions. This helps underwrite the cost of the project.

    Liz – I applaud this work. Amtrak’s actions toward Brattleboro are a gift. It’s a wonderful thing – an opportunity to add to sustainable transportation and a an economic development bonus. parking lots are traffic interceptors. It allows for more people to use public transit and that’s a great thing. Glad the grant exists. Sue is good at getting brownfield grants.

    Tim – I keep going back to the bridge and people driving down there to park and walk over that bridge. Key for multiple uses.

    Ian – curious, and community members interested in that DRB meeting – any idea who it will be?

    Sue – my guess is a couple of months out. maybe May. Engineering work needs to take place, and other work.. not much before May.

    Ian – trying to get DRB attendance up.

    Downtown Transportation Grant application in the amount of $100,000 approved 5-0

  • VCDP Housing Stabilization Grant – Authorize Application & Accept+Appropriate Grant

    (Ian, Daniel and Jessica are elected.)

    Patrick – within the same meeting, adopt a resolution to submit a grant application, then accept the grant agreement. This is a situation where the state of Vermont is asking us to facilitate a flow of federal funds re: COVID-19 into our community. They are relying on existing pathways of funding… us and our partner Windham Windsor Housing Trust – to help families in need with rental and mortgage assistance if it is COVID-19 related. This expedites the process. So submit and accept the grant in the same night. VT has waved the public hearing requirement, to open up the spigot and help needy families. Board is asked to authorize the submission of the $774,646 grant…. and adopt the resolution to execute the grant agreement. Rather than put together a new department to assist families, the state is using trusted partners.

    Daniel – so interesting to me. What I do for my day job. We work with clients who are WWHT tenants – ineligible households those connected to WWHT or larger than that?

    Patrick – larger – not exclusive to tenants. More broad than that. Rental, utility and mortgage assistance due to COVID.

    Liz – wonderful – it is what we’ve been asking for. WWHT is just the service agent for the population who may be in need. It’s wonderful.

    Ian – it’s what we want to hear – we have funds and a needs, let’s get funds to people fast. Thanks for the explanation. Is this novel? Using existing funding paths? In normal times…. would they do it differently?

    Patrick – making use of existing programs is nothing new. I’ve never seen state government act this aggressively in the 15 years I’v worked with this program. It speaks to the moment.

    Tim – is downstream north?

    Patrick – Lamoille, Washington and Orange.

    Gary Stroud – great news, Patrick. Will this conflict with the new relief package? They helped last time with electric and broadband… just for windham housing?

    Patrick – this is a program funded with federal dollars from a previous covid bill and the state wants to get it to people so they are making use of existing organizations to provide housing help and payments. WWHT works with Downstreet north of here, doing similar work. The partnership they have is because of scattered site grants work that we do with them. They do housing rehabilitation. They have a partnership to do admin, paperwork, meeting with clients. They are being given a big chuck of money to give to households in their service areas. They’ll tell everyone specifics of eligibility.

    approved 5-0

  • Announce Committee/Board Vacancies

    final item is announcing committee vacancies… so… I’m done.


    It should be noted that the original resolution was promoted by Brattleboro Common Sense) — not just by me (Kurt Daims and approved by representative town meeting (RTM) in 2018. I am a member of both. The resolution dates back to 2010, when it first came to a vote of RTM. Since 2018 it has bounced around town government. That’s three years of dawdling on a matter of climate emergency. Justice delayed is justice denied. People understand systemic racism. What we have here is systemic climate denial.

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