Selectboard Meeting Notes – Openness, Transparency, Parklets, and Housing

selectboard may 3, 2022

Members of the public scolded the Brattleboro Selectboard again for poor communication regarding their recent EMS decision. After, the board discussed removing some mentions of transparency and openness from their goals while patting themselves on the back for already having an open and transparent process.

They discussed other goals, then heard presentations about some exciting, possibly large housing projects going through the planning process. They also discussed improving the parklet program.

Comments | 15

  • Preliminaries

    Chair Ian Goodnow – I’m Chair and it is May 3rd. I have two quick things. First is Brooks memorial Library is having their strategic plan and are doing a survey. take the survey to help the library. And, this coming Friday is the first gallery Walk of the season. I encourage people to come out. It’s a wonderful reprieve being outdoors. Hopefully we have a successful Gallery walk this year.

    Town Manager Yoshi Manale – no comments.

    Daniel Quipp – a thank you to the public works department. People may have noticed potholes. Some remain, but new methods for patching have been employed this tear – an asphalt cold planer and the sidewalk tractor. There are substantial improvements to the road surface and should last longer. It was an example of a versatile use of equipment and the department working to get the most of the infrastructure for the benefit of the town.

    Liz McLoughlin – the sidewalk plow is a versatile thing.

    Jessica Gelter – also the return of the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market. Enjoy the beautiful weekend!


    Kate O’Connor – two things. The first is a shout out to the fire department. I had a tree in my yard that fell down and the power lines had fallen. The fire department closed the road and kept people away until Green Mtn Power came. The other issue was the EMS – one of you read from the charter about the selectboard providing and maintaining an ambulance service. You didn’t have to listen to us because it was in the charter, it seemed. I”m hoping that won’t happen again. And I’m hoping that you know what a big issue this is for the town. The contract with Golden Cross is done, but going forward there are lots of decisions, with budget impacts. I hope you commit to open and honest discussion and updates going forward. I’d like to suggest… Golden Cross will provide monthly reports. Put the EMS subject on every agenda under unfinished business. There may be things that happen after the meeting warning that if it isn’t on the agenda it won’t be discussed for another month. We did this when the discussion of the Police Fire project happened. Sometimes there was nothing, but it keeps the discussion going and not waiting a month. It would restore faith in you folks, which the town really needs right now. I hope in your goals will be some givens – public participation and transparency…

    Ian – it is a great idea. thank you.

    Robert Oeser – I think I’m here. So how are you all, and I really can’t see you. Trying to do this briefly, but following along with the same subject of Rescue and EMS. I don’t want total of the merits of the decision. It’s final. In the future, debrief the decision making process on the issue. There are some details coming out. A position was indicated on Feb 9, and there was a lot of frustration after that meeting, and we’re getting dribs and drabs of factoids. Nothing happened until much later. You all can sit and ask yourself how that transpired and how the frustration came about, and maybe bring in a neutral 3rd party, to avoid this situation in the future. How did it happen? I’m hoping you will talk amongst yourselves about it. Secondly, the public was first advised of the decision on April 11.. a memo went out. There were details provided on April 15th in the back up materials, and there was one info session on the 18th, and a decision made the next day. It doesn’t seem appropriate for this issue. Doesn’t seem appropriate for this issue. There was info sessions after. The board heard requests to pause the decision making process. One former board member said the decision needs to be revisited. In the future, in a similar situation, I’d suggest and urge, have a procedure like ordinances – a publication, a second reading, and if the board is inclined you could put it on the ballot as a charter revision. the decision needed more input. The last point, the budget that was provided in the board backup materials needs further analysis. Does it shortchange the fire department? A refurbished ambulance? There is an assumption of a grant. I had a discussion and someone mentioned ARPA funds could be used. We need to look at what this costs without those funds. It’s an ongoing budget. What’s it going to cost in year four and five. Those are the points I want to make about it.

    Ian – thanks, Bob.

    Dick DeGray – Good evening. i want to touch upon an issue that happened last night at the Void – a break-in. And also a few nights ago at Sam’s. We did put cameras on Elliot Street. I’m asking the board to start a committee, or look at getting cameras in numerous locations where there are high areas of crime. I’ve had problems with vandalism and theft in West B of flowers I put there and asked that the Town install cameras to curb that activity. I believe this is a selectboard decision. It is extremely important to look at getting cameras in strategic places downtown. We have a lot fo crime and drug activity and when I talk to the Town Manager about this, and they say the Town doesn’t do surveillance. if not, why not? It is imperative to get cameras up. One thing Elwell said was businesses can put cameras up. But there are things that cameras could do to help solve crimes, not prevent them. People have talked to me about this. It is time to start a discussion about cameras downtown to protect businesses and homes.

    Ian – we can’t respond to public participation comments so I .. uh.. we appreciate the comment. and we’ll take it under consideration. We can’t speak to them directly because they haven’t been properly warned. So to maintain the warning, I choose to decline to answer the question but appreciate the points you have made.

    Patrick Moreland – the Brattleboro Police arrested the person that broke into the Void this afternoon.

    Tim Wessel – I’ve heard similar comments and I’ll advocate for us talking about it soon.

    Ian – yes, pull the piece into the discussion as well.

    Dick – It’s been so long. A citizen can request putting something on an agenda.

    Ian – absolutely. We’ll make sure that information… you need to request to a member of the seldectboard or the town manager’s office the noon prior to the warned meeting. It’s considered, and put on the agenda or the board is notified that hasn’t and another board member can request it.

    Dick – I vaguely remember that.

    Ian – that’s it, great.

  • Consent Agenda

    Yoshi… Four things:

    A. Bike/Walk Master Plan – Bid Award

    B. Bylaw Modernization Contract – Award Contract

    C. Local Emergency Management Plan – Annual Re-Adoption

    D. Grader Replacement – Bid Award

    Ian – we put these on as they are discussed in the background materials to help shorten meetings, so public participation can ask for items to be pulled from this.

    Daniel Quipp – or they can email us ahead of time. These are usually routine things.

    so consented…

  • Hermit Thrush Taproom – First Class Liquor License

    Patrick Moreland – this is a first class license so they can sell beer in their taproom. They used to have this but let it lapse during COVID but now want to re-establish it.

    Chris Gagne – Can you hear me ok? Super! It’s our original location and we plan to open indoor service again, 11 to 9, so looking to continue to be a sour beer bar.

    Liz – this is such a hopeful sign.

    Tim – are you continuing with the parking lot?

    Chris – yes, some are okay indoor and some are less comfortable. We have robust air handling – every 5 minutes it circulates. But some prefer outdoors.


  • Selectboard Goals – Discussion and Possible Adoption

    Ian – alright folks, back to our goals. Yoshi do you want to speak to this briefly. The board took a long discussion about goals and we requested that the Town make it into a list for us…

    Yoshi – this is what the original goals were and what you added, and staff reviewed those goals, relevant to departments. Some changes were made (look online to see changes). Nothing substantial. Some additions. Rec and parks added something.

    Ian – the highlight sections indicate?

    Yoshi – changes or additions.

    Daniel – go to, to the selectboard page, to draft minutes, then scroll down to backup materials, then click on agenda, then click on goals. then you’ll get to it.

    Ian – considering goals are three pages maybe we just do them as categories again and discuss them, or just move on if no comments.

    Liz – these are fine. I think there is a focus on transparency but the kernel of the purpose is lost. the thrust of ARPA funds is for municipal purposes. These words lose that kernel of truth. We might want to say that.

    Tim – I had that highlighted. My comment was that we already have a defined open process for funds… it’s our normal transparent selectboard meetings. One and two are duplicative, they are sort of the same thing. They could be merged. We are already well designed to be listening to the public, if we follow our normal process.

    Jess – if someone has an idea for ARPA funds they reach out to us by that time to get it up for consideration?

    Liz – wouldn’t here be an open meeting for anyone to come and discuss it?

    Daniel – I spoke to a desire for a transparent accountable process for these funds. $2.1 million for municipal process. One time money that best practices are engaging with the public. The public needs to be made aware of meetings happening and an extra effort needs to be made to let people know about it.

    Jess – I was a little confused. the process might continue on with the Town identifying a project. piecemeal. Not a meeting dedicated to it. I want to clarify this. It should go for municipal purposes, but if there is a more accessible way than a single meeting…

    Ian – I’m hearing that it isn’t as simple as a normal selectboard meeting, so I dunno….

    Liz – It sounds like there would be a couple of meetings where the ARPA agenda is discussed, then a decision is made.

    Ian – absolutely. I didn’t think it would be piecemeal, but that is kind of defining it.

    Liz – I suggest this section be slightly revised to reflect this discussion… extra effort to warn people, multiple meetings, public input, and municipal use of funds.

    Yoshi – okay,

    Daniel – and take out considering residents input?

    Liz – add two to one… With number five, we can ask Patrick. It as widely discussed that a hybrid meeting isn’t good for RTM?

    Patrick – I have an opinion about this. There was an “other business” item to have a hybrid meeting. That a decision that is months away.

    Liz – there was a reason hybrid were impractical? I’ll move along.

    Tim – I’m glad you brought it up. I think hybrid would be a bad idea.

    Daniel – it’s not appropriate for us to determine this now. We can’t predict the future, and pandemic predictions are in our memory. Let’s come back to this in January when we’ll know more.

    Ian – on to Governance.

    Daniel – develop other charter suggested changes.. would we propose them?

    Ian – it is charter charges. To charge them with a responsibility. Should RTM Steering be discussed at the charter review commission? I don’t know if that would come from the selectboard.

    Tim – minor point. Number 6. Evaluate committees to help them or… end them. I have nothing in mind, but we should consider it.

    Daniel – Number 7 – discuss path to reappraisal… does this belong in governance? Be its own section?

    Ian – planning and housing?

    Yoshi – it is something required by the state every 10 years.

    Jess – back to number 4. I believe that came out of our discussion of that policy where Brattleboro could adopt charter changes approved by the state for other towns… so we wanted to be able to suggest them.

    Patrick – that’s number 3.

    Tim – it doesn’t look like we’ll have the option in this session.

    Patrick – there is always next year.

    Liz – like baseball.

    Yoshi – I’ll go back and check. Bob may have made that recommendation. I have to look at my notes.

    Jess – I like what Kate suggested here… I wonder if there is something around the goal of making all decisions in a timely, transparent way. We do that, but being explicit…

    Liz – while were a being scolded… contract are made in executive session.

    Jess – do we want to capture the point of openness and timely discussion…

    Daniel – I’d challenge the board to name a decision made done in private. All of our decisions.. the decision to contract with Golden Cross was in public. Exec session allows for some private discussions but decisions are always in public.

    Liz – there is a perception…

    Tim – I appreciate what you and Kate say. that will come through in actions not words on paper. Our actions kate wa speaking to.

    Ian – so #1 of diversity… how would that not apply…

    Tim – that gets to my problem with loose goals… I always try to do it… it seems disngenous as a goal. It’s more of a creed.

    Liz – we already have rules of conduct. We could say transparent and suitable, but we need that it is a given, whether it be in the charter or a mission statement… it seems repetitive to add it to each group.

    Ian – that’s fair. Jess?

    Jess – I believe there has been some conflict and trust degradation in our relationship with the public and that’s why we see the diversity items on the list. maybe this fast paced decision making, which we can do, brought a lot of fear and anxiety into the community act we need to address explicitly – time transparency and public input. You keep this on your list and keep it present to remind yourself of where you are going.

    Liz – there are times when deadline do not allow for what one might expect to be the fulness of time.

    Ian – i hear no on that side, and Daniel?

    Daniel – don’t believe it needs to be in our selectboard rules.

    Ian – anything else on DEI? #3 has been accomplished. Community Safety…

    Daniel – #1 – continue to implement community safety review. All the work was sitting with the Town manager’s office. We did checkins? This comes back to transparency and public trust – how are things being evaluated? What are the mechanisms for evaluation of the criteria?

    Liz – police chief and town manager are working on the spreadsheet, and point number 3 – the transparency and blah blah blah are all accounted for in the process we call selectboard meetings.

    Daniel – the spreadsheet was a matrix document with what the town could do, and what was happening. I
    ‘d like to bring the back when we are evaluating

    Tim – Number 3 speaks to the allocation, so that is important to hang on to. We haven’t defined how we will evaluate.

    Liz – another factor in the evaluation process – entities outside of the municipality have a role in decision-making. A discussion with legislators might be good.

    Ian – do we feel number 1 isn’t sufficiently defined?

    Daniel – Add in mention of last year’s work and the matrix. Also, Number 4. Want to point out that it is a community safety issue to evaluate the feasibility of the community EMS and consider funding sources.

    Jess – there was another thing Kate brought up, not just feasibility but the performance of the program, with monthly report rom them.

    Tim – it’s not yet performing…

    Daniel – I hear wanting to be kept in the loop with the new ambulance provider.

    Liz – Yoshi could suggest language about checking in.

    Ian – yes, we have a new contract and we want to keep tabs and the community is informed on how that is going. Goals that are year specific are ok.

    Daniel – we check in on our goals.. we might have this draft ready by the first check in.

    Ian – so # 4 should be about municipal EMS and #5 should be about this year’s contract. Planning and Housing…?

    (all good)

    Ian – did we just fix the housing problem?

    Jess – are we creating a housing implementation plan?

    Yoshi – Planning will do it and you will evaluate.

    Ian – climate and sustainability.

    Tim – provide actions to take to further sustainability – this gets my libertarian leg twitching. I don’t see how that it is our job. In my personal life, yes, but not sure how it is a goal.

    Liz – when I made it… The sustainability coordinator would have a dual role. One is inward facing but another it outward facing and i don’t think we’ve heard enough outward facing suggestions. Like No Mow May.

    Daniel – Done!

    Tim – that’s a thing?

    Daniel – that gets to the confusion of whose goals are these/ These are our goals but we aren’t going to do the work.

    (much laughter)

    Daniel – we’re letting Yoshi know it is really important to use. The energy committee has done some of this work.

    Ian – I have a different take on that. We make policy decisions. It is a policy of the town to encourage residents to be more sustainable… so there is a question of is this is our job..

    Liz – it reminds me of the fossil fuels and cow power. One of the purposes was to serve as an example. That’s an instance of your policy. I agree. We should revisit it to see if we think it is our job.

    Tim – file under Tim’s grumpy comment.

    Jess – it can be a great project for the sustainability coordinator.

    Tim – reminds me of a community suggest that we remind residents to wear long johns in the winter.

    Ian – okay

    Jess – #5 isn’t a huge priority for me.

    Ian – I think it is really important. Sharing is learning.

    Liz – our sustainability coordinator already does this a lot. #1 and #5 are two peas in a pod.

    Tim – #5 lands with me differently. The compost program is a model and a real thing we did. But telling people to change their lives has no real definition. Our compost system was a reaction to the state’s mandate so I’m proud of a policy decision that is a model.

    Ian – one thought to change $5 would be to communicate and learn from other communities. The back and forth element. Can we keep it in? Yes, we’re keeping it in. Traffic Safety…

    Daniel – Have zero fatalities with bike and pedestrians. That is our goal. My words. What happens to us when we fail to meet that goal in quarter one.

    Yoshi – it is a goal. Workplaces have a goal of zero workplace accidents. So this works for us.

    Daniel – I’m not on the Traffic Safety Committee anymore, but they get reports on injuries and fatalities That info needs to get to us so we can make things safer.

    Liz – instead of “have” say “work towards”. I just watched a webinar on this very subject.

    Ian – putting it here forces us to confront it if we fail to meet it. Okay, Utilities…

    (approves of all three)

    Ian – public outreach? #4 was contentious so I want to confirm that the language is good with the board.

    Liz – we’re not approving a plan, just discussing it?

    Ian – yes. Cannabis…?

    Daniel – create a local cannabis control board?

    Tim – it is a commission… not a CCB, please.

    Jess – the BCCB

    Ian – we don’t have to have one. It should read “consider’ not create. OK, recreation and parks…

    Liz – this is a ringer

    Daniel – there isn’t an item 2 to build a year round pool at Living Memorial Park. We’ll get to that discussion one day. Like a monorail…

    Liz – I saw the Simpsons episode.

    Jess – this is just creating the budget for next year.

    Yoshi – and we can give updates.

    Ian – we’ve gone through the whole thing. Are there any additions?

    Daniel – have fun.

    Liz – it is town policy?

    Tim – can this be in the Consent Agenda next time?

  • Parklet Program – Discussion

    Planning technician Stephen Hayes and Sue Fillion.

    Sue – I’d like to introduce Steve Hayes. He’s been here a year. He’s done the bulk of the work.

    Steve – we were task for developing a more permanent parklet program. We reviewed a number of them around the county. We found a general lack of success in policy. Costs and regulatory items outweighed the benefits, and they weren’t attractive. We developed an alternative set. These are less common. Some communities do these things – there are three major topics. Design, location, and pricing. For design we suggest a reapproved design from the Town… ADA compliant, safe, aesthetic and low materials cost. We could rent them out and avoid the public making them outside of their realm of knowledge. Public could still decorate them and customize them. The location would be set by a planning department map of approved locations. The pricing – there is little consistency. We have three alternative monthly rates. The first option is to charge as we do for metered space. About $220 a space. We could make more, but it could deter parklets. The second option is to break even with average car occupancy rate – about $150 per month per space, in line with most pricing models. And the third idea is to charge less than break even, if we want to promote them as a way to repurpose parts of the public realm. Each of these options should be feasible. Some stakeholder interviews with local businesses could help decide rates. Thanks. Questions/

    Liz – thanks. Innovative and you did a lot of research. I like how you broke it down by our values. Are there problems with existing parklets that we want to correct?

    Steve – depends who you ask. The aesthetics of jersey barriers. I have heard some concerns about safety. This program won’t be more or less safe. We could ask applicants to sign a maintenance agreement to take care of the space.

    Liz – is there interest?

    Steve – I believe so. If we had a certain and reasonable cost model that doesn’t take long to get going, it might be more of interest. This should be able to pay for itself within one year even 2 were ordered. We’d be in control over how many would be provided.

    Liz – Economic development money paid for the jersey barriers, and we have them now. I love the idea of streamlining the process but wonder what the cost would be and would it be something that would be funded from conomic development.

    Steve – I wouldn’t assume, but I’d imagine so. The amount of jersey barriers we’ve implemented is likely not enough for tips. From the aesthetic point of view, it will be more popular to see a better looking design.

    Liz – just using it as an example of economic development funding. The decision of what we’ll bill depends on who bears the upfront costs. Maybe program income and that would pass along to the business who would build these prototypes.

    Steve – we didn’t want to volunteer any other department. Maybe a local trade school or work program would like to do some of that.

    Sue Fillion – we thought upfront costs would be born by the Town. There are some grants.. AARP, crowdfunding… potentially program income or ARPA or if it is low enough it could come from aline item. Upfront costs would be from the town. As for interest, Hermit Thrush and Elliot St Fish and Chips are interested, we think. If they pay for the space it might change their calculation.

    Ian – so, to frame this, we don’t have a recommendation tonight. This conversation is reviewing what’s presented and we can offer opinions on options here, or from the public, we would voice that tonight.

    Tim – thanks for the report. It was great. I love talking about parking. Public space and private use is interesting. Let’s look at the overall benefit to the community. A premade, preapproved item is great, as is the map of approved spaces. I’m excited to implement something more aesthetically pleasing. For pricing, I’m landing below these. A parking space, if you can’t park in it, they park in another space, there isn’t a loss of revenue. I suggest $100 or lower. If you can’t park by Sam’s you park and walk down, if you can.

    Daniel – can’t park by Sam’s. I do agree with you. The original program was free and it wasn’t oversubscribed. Well used by two businesses. The barriers aren’t great. I’d like to see the design mockups and see prices. What does it cost to make this? Plus staff time, if they are building them.

    Jess – Super excited about this. One question is about allowed uses. Adjacent commercial business, but we have the bike parklet which is community sponsored. I’d love to see this framed as something that can be used for community, businesses downtown, and non-downtown businesses. Like a busking stage.

    Daniel – this is about enhancing livability. If we can make a nice place to sit down that didn’t involve an exchange of cash I’d love it.

    Jess – Yes to proving plans, and maybe for a more permanent plan. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a downtown thing. West B or in a parking spot that isn’t designated for parking? Or is it too complicated? Is that a question? Those were the things.

    Ian – one thing is a business needs to know where it can be put, can in be in front of another business? If it isn’t cafe, where could they put them and in front of which businesses? If we want to make this long term, these issues need to be fully articulated in the policy so everyone knows what we are getting into. The other thing – two businesses use the program, so finding out what they thought is important. There were some that tried it and it didn’t work… I’d like to hear from them, too.

    Liz – I want to tie this to our goals – I think our crack planning staff could tie this research to the downtown master plan.

    Ian – parklets that linked parks!

    Jess – a point about private vs public use. can someone who lives downtown have a parklet that is just for them that the use as a yard?

    Ian – this needs to be figured out. What if you can’t have a parklet because of your location.

    Yoshi – probably not going to get a private yard.

    Liz – these are our public streets.

    Gary Stroud – Slowly coming on. My camera should be coming up. Brattleboro’s a romantic place with parklets. That’s a dream I was having, like sitting out in NYC. It’s a warming feeling. I used to sit out of Fish and Chips. Just my thought. I highly recommend it.

    Steve – I can respond to some comments… or put it in a memo.

    Tim – I’m just wondering if people agree with me of pricing it low…


    Ian – adds a fourth pricing model of below cost, lower than parking rate. If that’s ok… one thing on the preplanned… does the floor match the curb height, and are all the curbs the same height.

    Liz – have you parked in front of the hardware store.

    Daniel – the map will take curb heights into consideration. We can map as much of the town…

    Liz – this won’t curb anyone’s enthusiasm.

    ian – thanks! It’s almost 8:15 and time for a break for interpreters. (but not typers…cg)

  • Prouty-Delta Initiative – Presentation

    Ian – It’s 8:24. Moving on the the Prouty-Delta Initiative – Presentation. Thanks to the presenters for waiting.

    Chloe Learey and David McManus

    Chloe – Thanks for giving us time. We thought we’d get this project on your radar, so you’ll know where we plug in. I’ll be quick. The Prouty Delta Initiative is an offshoot of us buying the Austine building. We didn’t need all the acres and space. We did campus planning, to make it sustainable. We knew we’d lose money, but with help we can make it work. We connected with Delta Campus, immediately to our south. Bob Johnson has owned it and has ideas of a better place to live and work. Some synergy there.

    David – she described how the relationship started – we have similar goals – nice place to live and work, sustainable living. We’re thrilled with the partnership.

    Chloe – Campus planning identified priorities. We have a memo of undertstanding to work together to meet needs in the community. Housing was a primary issue – foundational. Also recognizing need for indoor and outdoor recreation. We’re sitting between Canal St and West Brattleboro and Guilford. For goals of developing, it offers an interesting opportunity to create neighborhoods. We want diverse housing opportunities meeting all sorts of needs. has to meet all sorts of needs, walkable, billable, and sustainable. Also encourage more light commercial work opportunities. We have an advisory committee. Got a planning grant for water and sewer infrastructure needs… putting out feelers and requests for master planning and permitting, and moving forward. We had a design competition for students that got 15 submissions. Everyone needs housing. (shows some student designs). Brattleboro needs 500+ units…housing needs assessment helps us. It feels urgent and accelerated our process. A once in a lifetime opportunity to get funding to do the infrastructure for this. Delta has wanted this for a while.

    David – Phase one gets some housing construction this summer. Then we move up to the next lots where we need to build some infrastructure. The middle part is industrial. We’re a PUD so we can do commercial and residential. gets more residential after the dogleg. That’s where we’d meet Prouty.

    Chloe – in the works for a while. The Prouty campus is 180 acres, with about 27 acres used. The cost to developing it all makes you think about compact development. How to make it feasible. What if we infill more where we have infrastructure first. We look to our main campus. (shows current map, then infill map) (They have a concept for taking away a building, add more residential buildings, and other housing, a parking garage or other commercial things.. filling up the campus space). It looks very possible. It’s energized our process… we can get started with this. Then we can keep developing more acres of the campus. Could there be a walking path, and walk to home from work for lunch? We can connect neighborhoods and people. We’re not the only ones doing this. There are other examples. Not starting from scratch, but making it work. So, next steps – the water sewer study, looking at incremental development, research similar projects, and financing. It’s unique. We envision hundreds of units of housing – 100-500. Delta is developing housing already. It should look like our community. Hope to be adding some units in the next 2 years. An aspirational goal. It will take all of us. The community needs to come together. We can’t do it alone. if you know people or have ideas, point us in the high direction.

    Ian – thanks so much. This is very much on the mind of the board and good to hear about this exciting future plan.

    Liz – Best wishes.

    Tim – incredibly exciting. It does take time, but really excited on so many levels. I have one thought that is hard to deal with… we had these materials delivered and was thinking about this and went out for a break, and two modular log cabins went down High Street. I thought something like that could get you to that two year goal… to try out the feasibility of placement. maybe something like that could provide some earlier experiments up on that campus. The other idea – glad it is presented as a good mix of needs for the community, and the housing study. In my experience, the toughest pill to swallow is building not only affordable housing but all types of housing. Glad you are touching on that to create mixed communities.

    Chloe – in the past two weeks I though we should buy some houses off of Amazon. It feels so urgent. I’m glad you mentioned the cabins. What can we do in the interim, and not shut doors to other things.

    Jess – sounds like a lovely project and glad Sue is on the committee there. There are probably zoning constraints. Also excited about creating a holistic community, not just housing, It’s awesome. Thanks Tim for the log houses. My neighborhood was all kit homes from Sears. It’s a Brattleboro thing. Like the idea of trying something. My grandfather told me after the war there was a housing boom by the high school but they set up temporary housing in the ballfields, folks were crammed in, but were building the houses and resources. A neat story about a living arramgement that ruined into a neighborhood.

    Daniel – thanks for the work and vision. Imagining new possibilities is hard work. I’ve been up there and that’s the first time I’ve considered it as doable. I hope we can continue to check in and support you.

    Ian – I’d just say I echo all that and look forward to the next sort of update and my question is if people want to get engaged in this what’s the best way to contact you, or any upcoming events to attend?

    Chloe – contact me or David. Very open to being contacted directly. We had a tenant presentation, and we’ve come to you, and we want to get out to a statewide audience that might know of resources. And then we’ll turn back to the community for education and input. people can come and walk on the campus and trails. get people up here and let them learn about it. Pop up events. Keep an eye out. There are opportunities to help us. I appreciate the best wishes. If you have energy or ideas, every bit matters. You never know what will catch. Plant the seed. Okay I’ll stop.

    Ian – thanks again for the presentation, and we’ll move on.

  • Harris Place Project – Option Agreement

    Ian – can we move the screen. I feel bad for our one… moving on.

    Yoshi – as you recall a month or so ago we sent an RFQ for the Harris Place plot and we received three proposals. One was not for this. Second withdrew, and the third is what you consider today. This is to create a financial and development proposal to consider in 6 months. We ask today to authorize an option agreement for them to present to you in 6 months. If you like what they propose, you can take it up in 6 months. This allows them to get started.

    Ian – speak to what they are potentially doing?

    Yoshi – they aren’t proposing anything, just looking at the space, so they want to be able tot present it to you.

    Liz – I think at the high level it is a great idea. I have a couple of things.. two issues. One is I have the sense this would be senior housing. I didn’t see that here.

    Yoshi – yes, it is. It’ll be in the agreement. The other thing we need to understand and explore is underground parking. Not a lot of land use demand in Vermont, what we have in Brattleboro is ab=n abundance to parking. This assumes underground parking. It’s very much up in the air. And it is a rarity. It is necessary and not something that would become an attractive nuisance. Our parking garage isn’t used as well as it should be and I wouldn’t want the same thing with an underground parking lot. We’ve never done that in town, or in southern VT. We really need to explore the need, expense of underground parking.

    Tim – I’m excited about eh possibility of this as well. I share some of Liz’s skepticism of underground parking – there is a big piece of ledge, next to the train tracks. We should step back and look at the advantages… we wouldn’t lose spaces, but is it private management, does it need surveillance… is a loss of spaces ok? Don’t want the underground parking to kill the project.

    Liz – One more thing about underground parking. The public private share of the underground a parking – does the Town absorb the share of the development, or does the developer. That balance is not clear. I advocate that the housing developer thought it necessary, they should bear the costs. Public needs could be met elsewhere.

    Jess – Excited to see where this one goes and what we can learn from it. Don’t want to adores the parking, underground or otherwise.

    Daniel – this is a new vision of what a parking lot could look like. I am curious to see what they will come up with. There are some impediments to making it an easy project. They have experience financing complex projects. I hope when the work is done we get a range of options. The parking lot is owned by the Town, do we sell it or lease it? It’s all new to me and look forward to further education.

    Tim – parking lots have terrible value. If you have a place to park, a place for a car to park is the worst use of public space. We want to convert something low value to high value. We have to be pragmatic about covering this. It could be a wonderful pace for people to live which goes way beyond finding another place to park.

    Liz – what Tim brought up about the low value of a parking lot. There is the high expense of an undergoing parking lot – a cheap parking space vs expensive parking space. Who is paying?

    Ian – i wanted to speak to that. My only concern right now is.. we have them go figure out what to do, if some is municipally owned, and we don’t understand that financing, should we understand that potential…

    Yoshi – they can’t tell you the cost without looking at it, which costs money. You can always say no to what they propose, or it could be tweaked. But now, they don’t want to do the work and have you give it to someone else.

    Daniel – they’ll spend tens of…

    Yoshi – the town can help with grants, but they need the exclusivity… costs nothing right now.

    Ian – an option to an option that we’ll consider when they bring it to us.

    Tim – I have faith in this organization…

    option agreement authorization approved!

  • My notes on Public Participation Comments

    These are the notes to which I referred when I delivered public participation remarks at the Brattleboro Selectboard meeting on May 3, 2022:

    Not speaking today about the merits of the decision on EMS but solely on the decision making process.

    Many problems with the process bear repeating and beg for further analysis and reflection … hopefully this board and administration agrees:

    – It appears a position was articulated at the Feb 9 meeting
    – That resulted in frustration
    -Now information is being disclosed via the media
    – Invite you to reflect on what happened and even bring in a neutral third party to help with your debriefing to avoid having a recurrence of this in a future decision

    Secondly, the public was first given notice of what was going on on April 11; some details were provided on Friday April 15, an info session was held Monday April 18 and a decision was made the very next day. Two info sessions followed the decision.

    – On April 19, this board heard several requests from community members to pause the decision making
    – Now, a former Selectboard member wrote in the media that the decision needs to be revisited. “Brattleboro needs to revisit the Rescue Inc decision, “The Commons, April 27, 2022, p. C2
    – In the future, should similar situations arise, it would seem reasonable to have a “second reading” procedure in place, as is done with ordinances. Cf: Town Charter [24 App. V.S.A. ch. 107, § 4.06 (27)]
    – The Selectboard itself, if so inclined, could place this option on the ballot for voters this year.

    Lastly, the information provided on April 15 included a draft budget for a Fire EMS service.

    – This budget needs further analysis; does it shortchange the resources actually needed?
    – Should we rely on refurbished and/or used ambulances?
    – The budget should not assume the receipt of the Saver grant. After the first three years, the costs will become part of the ongoing budget
    – Also we should not count on one-time ARPA monies to fund an ongoing program.

  • What is Rescue's mission now?

    Now that the Town of Brattleboro’s longstanding contract with Rescue has been terminated, will Rescue survive, and in what way will they serve?

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