The Brattleboro Selectboard lifted town rules requiring masks. People and businesses are free to once again do as they please with caution. The mask rules can come back if things get bad again.
The board also passed a new rule requiring downtown property owners to clear their sidewalks of snow within 24 hours of a snowstorm or face fines and costs. It may be a while before this is tested, though, as winter is wrapping up for the season.
Some video problems to start things off.
Chair Elizabeth McLoughlin – I want to note it is election day and we are focused on the beauty of democracy and thank everyone for running and voting and for those that stood in the cold.
Town Manager Yoshi Manale – The Town Report will be available tomorrow at the library, and on the town website. We also have 2nd quarter numbers – $233k for rooms and meals – $533k for sales tax.
Ian Goodnow – I helped at polls today – thanks to town clerk and all volunteers. Polls are still open until 7 pm at American Legion. Absentee ballots can still be dropped at the Municipal Center or the American Legion until 7.
Jessica Gelter – Beyond voting, you can always show up for public comments here or join a committee to get involved in town matters. Inspiring to see people get involved at the committee level. We approve and give gold stars and appreciate the work the committees do. It’s an important role.
Daniel Quipp – also, to get involved, on Wed March 9 we will have the informational meeting, and prior to it there will be district caucuses. You may be able to get in to be at RTM. D1 and D3 still have seats available.
Tim Wessel – my appreciation to all who came together for winter carnival this year, given the obstacles we have on the pandemic front. Nice activities.
Liz – how about those ice shanties.
– you won an award
Liz – I’m an award winning artists. I’ll keep my day job though.
Summer Price – (audio problems via zoom) Is this when the public can speak?
Patrick – you have the floor…
Liz – yes, please join us and tell us what you want to tell us…
Liz – if you want to contact us, please do…
A. State Farm Insurance Company Grants – Authorize Application
B. Limited Access Limited Accessibility Lift (LULA) Project – Accept Bid
C. Police Cruiser Upfit – Accept Bid
D. Cemetery Maintenance – Accept Bid
Latchis Pub and Latchis Underground – 1st and 3rd Class Liquor License and Annual Entertainment License
Liz – we will review the Latchis Pub and Underground
Yoshi – they’ve been approved by police, fire… all approved.
Liz – I asked about the flooding situation, but the control of it is an insurance issue not a liquor license issue.
Tim – I’m having a Yogi Berra moment – as though I’ve been through this before in the past years.
David Ingerman – it has been one thing after another. I was ready to open two years ago but the pandemic made no sense to do it. We’ll open in early may. It has been an adventure – some have seen the upstairs it is really beautiful.
Tim – how do the upstairs and downstairs relate?
David – the owner is Ramuntos – the upstairs will be pub fare with sandwiches and things. You can’t cook up there. The commercial kitchen is hundreds of feet away. The pub will be open every day. Downstairs will be open on some nights and for special events. The Latchis folks have given us many historical things from the old theater. It will be a location people will want to come to in Brattleboro. beer and wine only upstairs. Excited to get it open. We’re ready to go today. The basement needs a month of work. Big issue is staffing. It’s difficult. And food availability. Those aren’t 100% certain at this point and we’ll play it by ear.
Ian – that’s really exciting
Liz – I will do dinner and a movie in the future…
Summer Price – sorry I switched to my phone because it wasn’t going through. Could we escalate the emergency climate crisis agenda in the schools… and emergency agenda for the climate crisis. You weren’t able to unmute me. Thanks for your service work.
Liz – things for the school should go to the school board, but thank you for your comment.
Downtown Sidewalk Snow Removal – Second Reading and Possible Adoption of Proposed Ordinance Amendment
Liz – second reading…
Yoshi – based on your recommendations we made changes – the reimbursement of the town is back in, and we reduced the time from 48 to 24 hours.
Ian – is this a second reading given that we made changes to the ordinance in the first reading?
Liz – the changes were not substantial enough.
Patrick – my recollection as well.
Tim – should we read it for all?
Liz – I consider that to be volunteering…
Tim – reads it… property owners must remove snow within 24 hours, or the town may do it and recover costs….. $200 fine, and a waiver fee is $100 per violation.
Jessica – what is a waiver fee.
Yoshi – if someone doesn’t have the means to pay it is a reduced amount.
Dick Degray – (from his car) I’m going to the Fat Tuesday parade. I’m disappointed that you didn’t go to 12 hours. I like that it is an escalating fine for every day the sidewalk is not cleared so I am in strong support of it, and I hope the board does, too. I hope this is heavily enforced if it needs to be. Downtown is a heavy traffic area and pedestrian safety is a big issue. Thanks and I’ll look for a 5-0 vote.
Jess – The DBA sent us info. The ordinance is one way to improv e snow clearing and the survey she did of the folks downtown… the current system might not be the most effective. Can we have those talks and look at what’s working and not working. A different system to address?
Liz – we heard a variety of opinions last week. I think it is focused on a couple of bad apples that need to be fined. Let’s try this, then if not we can talk. Give it a chance to work.
Daniel – this is a seasonal thing, the winter is coming to an end. Let’s see how it works next year. I was impressed by the snow removal over the last few days. property owners and DPW did a great job this time. Good team effort. Hopefully we won’t need to use fines.
Rule Requiring Face Coverings in Indoor Public Spaces – Continue in Full Effect
Liz – who would like to begin?
Daniel – last meeting we chose to extend the rule for 30 days. Since then CDC guidance has shifted. They have developed a new assessment for communities at the county level. This happened on Friday after we did this agenda. In that it shows that Windham County – case rate, percentage of hospital beds occupied, and rates of hospitalization – Windham County is the lowest level of three and as such the CDC recommends you can relax public health measure such as masks, and thus, given that our rule was hinged on CDC guidance, it would follow that we should also end our rule to align with that, with he caveat that if the situation changes, we should put it back in place.
Ian – thanks, Quipp, for the summary of the CDC changes, and thanks to the board for looking at this every week so we can address things quickly. I agree with Daniel. It would go against the way we were doing things if we opposed CDC guidelines.
Jessica – also in agreement that the municipal mask mandate is perhaps not necessary. CDC also recommends that unvaccinated people continue to use masks and social distancing. Tat’s all important to mention. It might not be a town mandate, but individual choices and business choices and venue choices are free to go either way, so respect those choices and protect the at risk individuals.
Tim – yes, I agree. I’m glad you put it that way Jess. This board is not making any recommendations for personal behavior. Some will wear masks for weeks or months, some were done months ago. We’re just addressing the town rule. There is still personal choice.
Liz – I agree. Let’s vote.
Dick Degray – if you vote, will you be unmasking at the board meetings?
Jess – it will be our personal choices.
Dick – it will be easier to hear and understand you if you do.
Tim – Hadn’t thought about it.
Liz – tune in in 2 weeks and find out.
Daniel – the question is fair – the public’s perception is that this carries weight and this has consequences. Some will be nervous seeing people without masks. Others will be happy. last year we had a couple of months of grace time. This is a transition. people have lost family members, and more… be nice to one another. I remember when we remove it last year. I went to the store without a mask, but I felt like such a … really iffy about myself. It took a while to get used to going out without masks. Be nice to one another.
Liz – I wish we could legislate kinds. I know someone who will wear one to prevent colds.
Jess – that anxiety out there and risk tolerances. There are also issues of exclusion and accessibility. As we consider this masking issue, think who we are limiting access for when we make the choices we make. It’s interesting for me in the arts as well.
Gary Stroud – appreciate what you are doing and I’d like to reiterate everything you said – courtesy, compassion and common sense. We’re not just looking out for ourselves but for others as well. I’m glad everyone is doing their part. Keep it up.
Liz – is this as of tonight?
Ian – it should be immediate.
Liz – tomorrow when we wake up it will be done.
Tim – everyone will make their own choices, so immediate is fine.
They cancel the previous extension. No masks required. Immediately.
Liz – Tim Kipp as Fence Viewer and Samuel B. Stevens to the Cemetery Committee
Liz – 5-0. I thank you all for this evening.
adjoined 6:59 pm
Fine and Dandy but...
You still have a huge amount of travelers passing through the area to their snow filled destinations or whatever, evident from the shelf vacancies of every day products at local super markets being some what cleaned out and those same passer – byers that may not be experiencing the low rates mentioned and I think it is going to very a long time coming before I unmask at such crowded places as I have others close to me to think about, wouldn’t be so sure about safety until the fat lady sings her COVID swan song.
Another way we could look at this – masking has kept our numbers down.
SNL had a good weekend update joke about this sort of thing this week. Along the lines of “NY is lifting mask mandates, meaning bars and restaurants can stop pretending to look at vaccination cards. ‘About time!” said the next variant.” : )