A special hearing by the Brattleboro Selectboard to consider health violations cited at 16 Washington Street had much discussion by all concerned – except one key individual: the property owner. Kurt Daims didn’t attend his hearing, and the board did not look kindly on such an action. He did issue a statement via BCS delivered to the board, but it wasn’t enough.
The new train station project was again described in detail, ARPA funds were discussed, the tree ordinance was adopted, and more.
They get started late. On of the fun things about the zoom meetings is that the interpreters get to chat while the sound is off if the picture is on.
Chair Ian Goodnow – I’ll keep holding people to 3 minutes to let everyone speak. It’s a newer thing we’ve implemented and it has worked well. Reminder that if you want to request an absentee ballot you can go to the state voter page or call or email the Town Clerk’s office. You have to request them. In person voting is March 7 at the American legion.
Town Manager John Potter – I caught fun events at the Winter Carnival at LMP and around town. There was a nice article in Vermont Magazine about Norma Hardy with excellent quotes. Take a look. And, an additional item – we have been working on cameras – 9 companies are interested, more on this in March. The Assessors have moved to the first floor.
Liz McLoughlin – early voting by Friday of this week. It’s one year anniversary of illegal ear in Ukraine. I offer the Jimmy Carter challenge – do something nice for someone who needs it.
Tim Wessel – happy Fat Tuesday and Lent starts tomorrow.
Dale Joy – tonight I’d like to talk about last week’s agenda about the landlords wanted to leave something on the ticket for asking people from their apartments. They have every amazing way to evict people… why do they need that one thing. You can be evicted for sneezing to loud. For anything – why do they need the no cause ruling? I want to make sure the Town hears this. The No Cause thing… that’s your home. If a landlord doesn’t want you there all they need to do is come up with a lame excuse. Some are good, but some are lousy. We don’t need the no clause thing.
Dick Degray – a big shout out to the Harris Hill for a spectacular event this weekend. Given the weather going up to the event, some people had to work to get the hill in shape. Much appreciated. The 101st year of jumping in Brattleboro.
2023 Liquor, Tobacco License, Outside Consumption Permits and Tobacco Substitute Endorsements Annual Renewals
Potter – none with two violations. Tobacco substitutes means vape products. I you approve, they will all be approved.
Jessica Gelter – since we do these as liquor commissioners, should we do anything as we convene?
Ian – we’ve done water & sewer so…
Town Atty. Fisher – a-ok!
Health Commissioners - Emergency Health Order Appeal – 16 Washington Street
Ian – this is for 16 Washington Street. The selectboard convenes as health commissioners and one duty is to hear emergency health orders and appeals. That’s what we are doing this evening. There is a congruent track taking place when it come to zoning, held at the DRB, so hold questions of zoning for the DRB. WE can’t rule about zoning. We’ll allow AC Chuck Kier speak to the emergency order, then we’ll give Mr. Daims to speak, then the public can speak if they have knowledge of this property. We’r taking evidence, so larger discussions of policy can happen at another time, so we want to know abut events here.We’ll accept the order as presented, modify it as we see fit, or we can reject it in full. After we hear evidence, then we will make a motion and vote on it. AC Kier…
Kier – thanks for having me. BY your appointment, you have given me the duty to investigate potential health hazards and complaints, and exercise ordinances as necessary. Further, unsanitary use of property says a property can’t become a public nuisance – any premisies that has unsanitary sewage, or unsafe of human habitation, or any potential fire hazard or dangerous. Ian has said there are two paths – this is the role of health, not zoning. On Jan 30 I received a complaint from 20 Washington St about the trailers behind 16 Washington St – improper disposal of human waste and electrical cords that could be a fire hazard. Brian Bannon also contacted me about giving Mr. Daims info. An inspection in early Feb. I ordered Kurt Daims to stop any habitation in the accessory units. Inspector nelson, Bannon, and I did a health inspection of the outside units at 16 Washington St. Kurt Daims joined us. MY report has been delivered. Highlights: no secondary means of egress, towels as doors inside, windows are blocked. Units have flammable wall coverings – styrofoam, wood, plastic. Must be fire rated. These are significant concerns for me… a significant fire hazard to anyone inside- a quick fire with no secondary egress. Electrical hazard in all three units. Must be up to code for residential safety. All units have no carbon monoxide detectors and no photovoltaic smoke detectors. No human waste disposals systems, not attached to any water supply. lastly, human waste found around the property and in the trash, which means poor living conditions. Fecal matter means a health issue. I received three other complaints since Feb 10… 20 Washington, 10 Washington, 15 Washington – says complaints continued past that date and Daims has not complied. I ask the selectboard to alter m health order to not allow the RVs to be occupied[pied until the following conditions are met – 6 conditions: all units meet sanitary code, permits for wastewater, fix all RV electric deficiencies, create and keep a clear second means of egress for each trailer. Remove all flammable wall coverings. Install heating units, and install detectors as required. Thanks for hearing me out.
Kurt Daims –
Patrick Moreland – I don’t see him…
Ian – raise your hand so you can speak on this item… so, okay, in that case. Any questions about the report…
Jessica – we did put this on the agenda that it would be on at 6:45, maybe Mr. Daims is waiting for that time to start.
Ian – that’s a problem with putting times on.
Daniel Quipp – all times are approximate.
Ian – I’ll take comments from the public. The board is looking for information about the health order condition at 16 Washington. Zoning and policy discussions are not for right now. Just experiences about this .
E. Stuart – I adjoin the property on washington St. I’ve watched everything since October. I have empathy for housing insecurity. I can confirm the findings. I can see the electric hooked up. My daughter has seen people using the bathroom in the open air. We are concerned about health and safety of his tenants and people living around there. Untreated human waste or fires. Daims has not told anyone why he as a landlord doesn’t provide water or a waste removal. This isn’t about NIMBY neighbors. This is about holding Mr. Daims to reasonable standards. Te is the private property owner letting people use the property’s o he is a landlord and must provide those things.
Ian – Kurt if you are here… it’s after 6:45…
Kevin Collins – I’d like to rebut something. Daims has one a lot to help a lot of people. we have bottled water in the camper and there is a portable john, and we have access to running water in the house. We have options. I am staying with Stacey in one of the RVs. He’s done a lot. He put in new CO2 detectors. It’s an RV, not a house. Houses have flammable stuff, too. Campers don’t come that way. Extension cords running for power? That’s what you’d use at a campsite. They are the right cord for the camper.
Taylor at 20 Washington – I want to note there was no portal potty until the health inspection. people had been there since November.
Jennifer at 10 Washington – one comment, since I live so close. I have done projects to house epoeple in RVs in remote locations. When there is a fire… humans have 1-2 minutes to get out and an RV can engulf in 5 minutes. That’s my concern. Humans can’ get out. It isn’t the summer with no heaters. There are space heaters. That’s my concern – I don’t want loss of life.
Carolyn Conrad – – I live adjacent to the property in question. Mr. Daims has declared this an emergency measure. It is an emergency that he has declared, not the town, county or state. Perhaps there should be an emergency. He’s asking for a variance based on an emergency of his own declaration. That is his excuse for not providing habitable, safe facilities on his property.
Ian -Six conditions that need to be met and no one can live in the RVs until the conditions are met. Is there another inspection in 10 days?
Kier – we’d schedule an inspection to see the conditions have been met then we’ll lift the health order.
Tim Wessel – I thought there were four units?
Kier – I only noted 3 RVs when I was there. I have seen smaller units as well but it wasn’t there during my inspection. It would also need to comply if it returned to the property.
Jessica – One thing I heard was access for emergency vehicles and 911 dispatch – is that on the remedy list?
Kier – not on the remedy list, but you have a higher authority than me. It is a concern that when we respond we don’t know how they are labeled for 911.
Jessica – some of the rental compliance code issues. It might be for zoning, but we have different requirements for congruent dwelling units – different requirements for kitchen. Do the VT rental housing code conditions apply, or do you want further support from planning or selectboard.
Kier – Mr. Daims is receiving compensation for those units so it would fall under the renal code. Town Atty could answer.
Atty Fisher – rental housing is defined as all dwellings let by an owner to others to be used as a regular residence. Similar to state code.
Ian – additional comment?
Steve – I’m from BCS. I’m the safety guy at the property. We believe the findings are moot according to a statement here.
Ian – Don’t know what we do with a handout.
Atty Fisher – it should be presented to you as chair then you decide…
Ian – bring it up… ok, thank you very much.
(board reads handout)
Tom on South main – I have abutting property. I don’t know how this is a process but I object about BCS giving you info – we should hear the issues in an open forum, especially since Daims isn’t here and he created this mess. Many of us made the time and effort to come here and it questions the integrity of the process that he isn’t here and he’s giving you a statement we aren’t hearing.
Liz – can it be read?
Ian – Bob?
Bob – if the person from BCS wants to read this that is fine, and you could give it whatever weight you want to give it. A cursory glance, … if BCS want to read this into the record that would be permissible, for you to make your decision.
Daniel – a question… this was warned as a health order appeal and Daims was made aware and the dates dfor appealing. I’m quite surprised he has chosen to not attend this meeting given his attendance to many many other meetings. Failing to attend is tantamount to not wanting to appeal. This late message might be an appeal, but it speaks loudly that he isn’t here.
Tim – we should consider as much oas anything else… perhaps a summary in 3 minutes. Impssible to absorb and weight it for this long warned and prepared for meeting.
Liz – the emergency order was issued in his name, but he didn’t sign this statement and it troubles me. To understand the gist f the appeal, the first 4 paragraphs can be read. But the gentleman just left. The public should understand what there words are. It would be read aloud.
Jess – he emailed it to us at 6:06 pm.
Ian – it is the issue of not being in the pubic record. I am of a mind to not consider this if no one is here to speak to it.
Atty Fisher – it is within your discretion. having it read makes sense.
Ian – someone else says they are willing to read it.. the first page.
Stacey Martin – (reads letter…) BCS asserts that the inspection used in the emergency housing project do not apply to the situation. The emergency housing order relies on regulations… none of them or current use satisfies these terms for regulation. We think it should be reject. Failure to include the procedural rights… is wrong. The order is defective and the intro is false. Kier said the RVs were more dangerous than sleeping in snow, which is absurd. He refused to say what would be safer than sleeping in snow. WE are eager to work within regulations. It is critical to know this info, since on purpose of the project is for private property owners to keep people on their property. We’d like to continue the project with the cooperation of the town. We have addressed many of the items. A more detailed conversation needs to take place….
Dick Degray – does the board get to go into deliberative session after hearing from the public and fire department and then give a reading?
Ian – great question…
Attorney Fisher – you have the ability if you so choose, since this is quasi judicial! If you choose to, you can deliberate in private. If you don’t need that, you can make the order as you see fit.
Eric – narrow the focus. This is not about BCS. This is just Daims. He owns the property and needs to be here. Everything else is irrelevant. He should incur fines – I made the time to come down here. The least he can do is come down here. This is about Kurt Daims and his tenants on his property. Not BCS.
Stacey martin – I reside in one of the RVs- we do not pay rent. We help do construction work on the RVs and in our RV there has been a competing toilet that is considered legal. It functional. You don’t have to have running water for it to work. Never been an issue.
Ian – did you even pay rent?
Stacey – no.
Sophia – can you hear me. My sister is a neighbor of Kurt. I was concerned and I found a Craigs list ad with the exact location asking for rent. He was charging rent.
Ian – deliberative session? I don’t think we need it. AC Kier has a clear set of 6 conditions that Mr. Daims needs to complete. It is a very noble thing that Mr. Daims is trying to do, but it is the Town’s responsibility to make sure it is safe and clean housing. That’s our purpose. Seems like we need to set these conditions.
Liz – there is no housing emergency in the state of Vermont, only Mr. Daims has said that.
Ian – didn’t even consider it. We think about the great need for housing…
Tim -Bob, a 10 day window is requested.
Atty F: it isn’t required. You just need to set a reasonable time to make the repairs.
Tim – I want to remind board members… you might recall two health orders issued that same week. In the other case, the remedy was almost instantaneous. That’s what we hope to happen. Think of the reactions of these two landlords. Lots of noise has been made to gain points in the media but it needs to be remedied.
Jessica – AC Kier – are you allowing folks to live there for 10 days until remedied, or unoccupied for the 10 days.
Kier – do not allow occupancy. They are extremely dangerous. I have fear for the lives of those who inhabit. Make that choice if you so choose.
Jessica – it is our responsibility to have safe spaces for rental housing. There is the rental housing assistance program for grants to provide housing, to improve that housing, and Kurt was made aware of this back in October. It is important we do our work and make sure it is safe. The harm an action like this can cause – the displacement o people living in the properties identified. We need to understand this is destabilizing housing and is traumatic and upsetting and we should reduce the harm to these folks.
Kier – There are services for the people being displaced. If they provide the inspection report, it entitles them to some housing. We told Daims this at the inspection.
Liz – the other emergency orders – the other people understood the seriousness and remedied it quickly, and Daims continues to fight this without an understanding of the health or safety issues.
Ian – motion for the six conditions at 16 Washington St – meet sanitary needs, fix RV electrical issues, 2nd means of egress, remove all flammable wall coverings, install heating units to code, and install detectors to code.
Tim – I’d like to reduce it to 5 days.
Ian – one requirement is to get an electrician…
Tim – my mood is “immediate”..
Liz – the people will be removed immediately.
Ian – 10 business days?
Kier – I suggested 10 business days, due to the electrician.
Tim – the removal question?
Liz – no one will live in these units…
Tim – how to enforce it?
Kier – one thing we face – our authority is telling him not to occupy, but there won’t be a person to go out and remove someone.
Atty Fisher – the enforcement, the town would need injunctive relief in court. That would be the next step after the 10 days.
Tim – okay, back to 10 business days.
Daniel Quipp- I’m disappointed and frustrated by this. Saddened that a well-meaning community person is putting people in harms’ way. I see this a lot. People need to resort to unsafe ways to live in the winter. Anyone providing it knows it isn’t a safe wya to live. I know Daims is a well-intentioned person. I’m frustrated with he limits of out powers here. Chuck is a professional that has made an assessment, but we’ll end up in the courts. I feel the pain of the neighbors and it is tough. I wish we had a quicker remedy for you. It’s not a great situation for all involved. I wish not hadn’t come to this. dais was aware that this wouldn’t fly months ago. he knows it is not. I will concur with Kier’s order. It is reasonable.
Ian – one final thing. 10 Business days… we don’t meet within those 10 days, so staff should have guidance about seeking relief after 10 days? Add it to the motion? Ok… added to motion. Should the property owner not comply, the Town should seek injunctive relief.
Fisher – you’ve read the six conditions. If you make a motion that he fixes those six…
Ian – okay, the motion is that he comply with the conditions and no one can live there until the conditions are met, and town should seek relief if conditions are not met.
Ian – thanks to everyone who came out tonight.
Regulation of Public Tree Ordinance – Second Reading and Possible Adoption
Ian – I convene the public hearing… and invite tree committee member representatives.
Ian – this is the second reading of the tree ordinance and we will possibly adopt it this evening. Tree committee can speak again. We had a great discussion at the last meeting and appreciated the discussion.
Superintendent of Public Works Peter Lynch – Dan Adams and Mary Henninger are with me. We met for the 1st reading nd it was a great discussion. We learned a lot from you and we went after that meeting and made three minor changes to the proposed ordinance. Both the tree advisory board and the tree warden use the regulation of public trees as guidance as it relates to public trees. Our last update was in 2004. Since then, we are out of alignment. We spent 18 months what the statutes say and what zoning requirements are required. We hope for an updated ordinance. During that process, Bob Fisher spent time with us and looked it over. Deportment heads and committees helped us.
Mary – thanks for the early hour – the changes are the one you asked us for as concerns web site links disappear without warning. WE did add that the big paragraph about the VT invasive website, which is a big collaboration. Not sure who to talk to if the link stops working but I gave you my best guess. Then reading through again, I did find two other things – pg 5 clarifying the formula for valuation, and we forgot the word “most” on one page. Those are the only changes.
Liz – thanks to Mary and Dan – you are the backbone of the town for volunteering like this.
ian – I echo that. I asked for the change and appreciate it. It feels bad to be nit-picky when you’ve done all the work, but want your hard work to last as long as they can.
Bob Fisher – these are minor changes.
Tim – thanks to you all.
Tree ordinance adopted!
One more tree thing
Dan Adams – your ash trees will be dead soon if you don’t inoculate…
Chief Howard – (reads report) we responded to 363 calls for service. Added responses with lights and sirens. Total EMS calls in 7 months is 1810 – avg time 27 min.., etc. 54% collection rate for billing.
Ian – could you speak to the percentile times?
Chief – the 95th percentile is life threatening emergency calls. The 90th percentile time is non emergency – someone falls and needs assistance. No lights or sirens.
Daniel – we did receive questions before the meeting from Robert Oeser – about overtime…. that should be in the financial report, not here. I want to prompt that.
Jessica – John, the income that Global Cross has collected. The collection process is 6 weeks. Do the credits reflect what we’ve collected for 6 months and how does that match up with he AP Triton projections about collections?
John Potter – so, you are asking how does this information line up with AP Triton? I don’t know the answer, but we can bring that to you at the next meeting.
Jessica – and collections take 6 weeks?
Chief – myself, Patrick and Kim have been working on collections and have learned a lot in the last week or two. It takes longer than 6 weeks. It can take two months. We’ll have better numbers for March.
Daniel – this is billing information from Golden Cross and the revenue is not coming to the Town of Brattleboro.
Ian – good point.
Jessica – additional firefighters on the force – how might that impact our reliance on Mutual Sid… the numbers are slowly adding up in mutual aid. They are low.
Chief – it is very low and one question is overtime due to EMS and the only part that is from the EMS overtime is the folks we have in paramedic school. A cardiac arrest takes six people to handle. Our EMS callback is minimal. The three folks would have gone to paramedic school anyway.
Jessica – that pie chart on the report 3rd page. Awesome to see how things break down. EMS calls is about 2/3 of what you do. If we decided to go with an outside EMS provider, would you still be going to that chunk of the pie?
Chief – yes, just like before July 1. If you pick a third party, we’ll still respond to medical emergencies.
Daniel – the EMS update is a new thing and has gone through iterations. This and the police reports provide call data. I’d appreciate a summary of the top five ancient types, or top 10. It’s hard to look through the full report, so the top 5 codes would show what codes are used most. Also like to see it in the police report.
Liz – thanks to the Chief for the fine work and this reporting.
Robert Oeser – I was doing numbers but my question is how do you code… Liz spoke of this 4 months ago – how do we keep track of EMS within the department so we can know what it might cost… that’s why I looked at the cost estimates – over $240k in overtime, and 2/3 of that is EMS… that’s $150k, but that’s rough. Might be better to code when they do EMS vs fire. The overtime is double what we’ve seen in the last five years. That’s the exact amount allocated to Rescue. What part of $240k in overtime is attributable to EMS. If we had those numbers, we’d have an accurate picture for planning of next steps.
Chief – we don’t come it because people cover both fire and EMS. I can’t tell you exactly because we don’t code it that way. Overtime is up this year… it has dropped drastically.
Daniel – I hear the question – I’ve had that question myself. I find the answer satisfactory. Some segment of the public wants to hear more of what’s driving overtime. As we move forward, if we can pull back the curtain on overtime, that would help people feel comfortable or not, so they’ll have information to inform them.
Liz – Bob said I asked a question like that I never would have asked a question like that.
Ian – thank you for all the work you do for the town, Chief.
Monthly Financial Report
Kim – (reads finance report) 58.3% through the fiscal year….
Jessica – I loved the answers you included in your memo to our last questions… want to read them into the record?
Kim – I’ll read that (reads from a memo) … there were questions on housing programs in the grants and loans funds – the rental housing fund, criteria and resources – it was established in the 80’s to rehab an existing unit or make a unit in a home, from community development loans, applications go to the grant office, up to $25k. There is a state housing program for COVID housing assistance. BAAH runs a $3k grant to assist homeowners to establish rental units in their homes.
Ian – thanks for the report. The three funds. Utilities fund is a bit over for where we are in the year… 58.7% – how concerned should we be, and is this a healthy way to think about this? Does every month need to be right around the same.
Kim – No. Percentages are just that. There are regular expenditures and things that come up. Billing goes out that brings in revenue. Think about these things generally. If you are within a few percentage points it is like a rounding error.
Liz – Once again, parking expenses are… but revenues are way down. There is a problem with the revenues in the parking fund. No one should be surprised.
Daniel – Not sure I’d describe it as a problem. Budget and numbers are close.
Liz – Revenues are not meeting the expenses… if you had read David Copperfield… we”re not receiving the revenues normally intended. We aren’t having the rents we expected.
Daniel – the amount we budgeted is fine – did we under budget.
Liz – there is a hole in the parking budget, be aware, and not obscure it.
Jessica – I was going to ask about that. We did approve that parking fund budget with a significant deficit, so we should figure that out this year and not have a budget with such a deficit?
John Potter – later this spring we’ll have it for you.
jess – utilities are 10% off… what might be causing that?
Kim – billing goes out this month dnd that will right that wrong in the next report.
Franz Reichsman – taking off on Bob Oeser’s question… what I’d like to ask is how we can go about undertanding the costs related to EMS. The Chief says they don’t code things certain ways, and I understand that it can be complicated to figure out, but for town meeting reps and the people of town, to be able ti understand the financial position for EMS is an important part of the decision making process. You might need to make some assumptions, but if you made it as clear as possible, and a list of the assumptions you used, then we could really make a decision about EMS services in town. I strongly recommend you come up with as good a number as you can, and what assumptions were used. Is that part if what you anticipate happening?
Kim – as Chief said, we are working on that and making assumptions, and gathering data where we can get clear data. When we collect it all and can share it, it will come to you and town meeting.
Patrick Moreland – one thing I wish to clarify is that we are working on clarifying the revenues and expenses added tot he existing budget, so w’d be calculating the revenues and expenditures to provide the all in-house EMS budget. Going through the historical spending, there is no way to break it out in the past.
Franz – Not asking for over a 20 year period, but for future spending…
Patrick – future spaning – what we are currently spending is somewhat incalculable. A stuff person might perform CPR or put out a fire, but what about while waiting for a call… that’s just a staff expense. What we will be able to do, these revenues and expenditures would be added to what we are already doing.
Ian – we take a break at 8 but we have people waiting… 5 minute break? OK…
Amtrak Easement for Station
Moreland – we’ve been anticipating the new station for years and expanded the Depot St parking area. The loss of 10-11 spaces was expected. It’s been since 2017 that the town has been working with Amtrak. We didn’t expect to be working on it today, nor would it be as spectacular as it will be.
– we’re really happy the track work is done, the parking is done, permitting has been pain-free and we’re excited to get shovels in the ground. I’m government affairs dealing with railroads, working on their for a long time, and Ellen has been the ADA coordinator for al the stations.
Ellen – thanks. I’m the 3rd party ADA station coordinator. It’s a great story. The ADA stations Program is taken with bringing all stations up to code. We use DOTAS standards. We take historic fabric at any station very seriously. This station was 16k passengers, now a bit less after COVID. Good recovery. Tracks are owned by NE CRR. There is a main track and a siding track, which was interesting. Rest of land owned by Town. AMTRAK has some room in art museum basement. There were challenges – steppe grade, close CT river… platform needs to be at least 8 inches above top of rail to be ADA acceptable. It is a steep site and goes to river, and that complicates the design. There are complex ownerships – the town, NECR, plus others – on existing platform side. There is an electric pole influenced what happens here. It is a state transmission pole and they wanted to bury the line for the new bridge. It would have cost an incredible amount of money with little benefit. Based on this, we had three options. Plan became to build new station, and rebuild existing siding track and switches (already done). That gets us a 48 inch platform, with level boarding… 345 feet long. It will have an electric snow melt platform. new station amenities. Covered outdoor area. Small engineer room and storage. We need ADA parking and a bike shelter. Current station will go away and town will get space back. Siding track will be next to new platform. New waiting room with 36 bench seats and standing room. Bench seating outdoors. (Shows renderings of new station) There will be ramps and steps on both sides of the station, plus a bike shelter. Level boarding! New lighting, railings. Next steps are: historic approvals, easement agreement with town. confirm new track elevations, send out for bidding and start construction summer 2023. That’s the story I wanted to tell. We started with a renovation in mind and needed up with moving to the other side of the tracks.
Ian – thanks for the presentation. I’ve taken Amtrak many times and never really considered the level boarding difference until you showed a rendering… no stairs! Very exciting.
Tim – we’ll battle over who is most excited. I was there the other day for midnight blue coming through… a special engine coming through, and the red nose a few days before. What happens now, there is a narrow space where cars go in and out, and the uncomfortable thing is that if you are a little late, you get cut off from getting on the train… they figured it out but it was awkward. I’m getting to a question. I hadn’t thought about the siding. Will a freight train completely level on the western side while the Amtrak will take the higher route? A two tired system?
Ellen – tracks will be at the same level. Both at same elevation.
Tim – someone asked me a year ago about employee coverage, but for parents dropping kids off to take a train by themselves… is there any plan for a window of station manning ?
Ellen – we have a caretaker there an hour before and hour, but it isn’t a manned station with a ticket counter. We have the space for it and window that could be used.
Tim – there were 30 people waiting to go.
– quite a lot step down to the old platform.
Liz – thanks again and for your partnership and hard work. So looking forward to it and such a wonderful facility. Trains are a wonderful thing.
Zebulon Fortune – a voice for the younger generation. I want to share my enthusiasm for this project. This is a move toward a more accessible and sustainable future.
Mollie Burke – thanks to Amtrak and to get a new station is a wonderful event and very thankful for it. Bill Hollister will be back…
Ian – ok…
Franz – For Tim, do you consider train geek and rail nerd to be synonyms? (yes). If this is level boarding, will you have signs that say mine the gap.
Ellen – there is language there that will take care of that, but not that language.
Tim – can we share those images? (yes)
Ian – put the presentation on the webs ite. Some renderings were quite excellent.
easement agreement approval approved!
ARPA Allocation Process – Discussion
Ian – this is , so, uh, way back in the spring of last year the board had an initial discussion of how to allocate ARPA funds for COVID relief. Town Manager Potter has worked on a strategy and he is going to…
John Potter – this is the 6th discussion. The town received 3.4 million dollars. Of these you committed $645k… Last May you adopted two goals – to define a transparent accessible process and to listen to resident suggestions. With your goals in mind for that, staff has put together a proposed process that includes community engagement. The idea is should we split it up into several timeframes? We suggest three – immediate funding in the next month or so, then medium needs for June or July, then longer term allocation in Oct or November. The medium and longer term could be for the public to engage. This is the process we propose and could go into more detail, but it is just a suggestion. What we’d like is an agreement of how to proceed with allocating these funds.
Ian -a timeline and three categories of needs. We can modify this, but the town would like more guidance.
Daniel – we won’t meet on March 7th (no election nights), so at our next meeting March 14, we would establish the three categories for the remaining funds. When you say establish them, would we put amounts into each? Divide it up? (Yes) Then what can town staff do to understands the immediate needs?
John – we can bring ideas to that meeting. EMS works. or other suggestions from the board?
Ian – that’s also step 2… discussion of those allocations.
Liz – What we need to understand – how the selectboard works in regular order. The staff researches things and presents us with things, like immediate needs. How do we begin this work? We need to do it as we always do, and staff needs to tell us what is in our short term interest. We need to understand that the work was not begun in earnest by the last town manager or Mr. Moreland, so now is the time to begin the work. Staff needs to consider, we can’t be duplicating state initiatives. We need our own municipal ideas. The state all has other money on parallel tracks. It needs to be coordinated. There are VLCT point people, and state resources to coordinate with. We need to make sure we are working together, but staff has great insight into our capital spending. It glosses over the hard work the town staff and town manager will be doing. I’d hate to see once in a lifetime spending bantered about at a meeting. I want the work done before we discuss it. Too important to discuss on the fly. Before we divide it up.
Ian -so not adopt this as presented?
Liz – I want to be assured the work will be done. The timeline is fine. I want him to research what is best for our town.
Ian – can you speak to that?
John – I appreciate hearing that and getting that direction. It was contemplated that we’d do significant work but it is good to hear from you.
Ian – I agree. Is the proposed timeline here not overly-aggressive?
John – It is an aggressive timeline but it depends how you divide up the thinking of how to divide it up… fi you put a lot out to September that would be great, but we can have ideas for you to explore earlier. I heard Liz say to put it all out to the long term. You could skip the midterm idea.
Jess – timelines – in terms of how this works with the fiscal year… more in May or June would be good for considering the fiscal year, but the longer term piece might be best before or during the budgeting process. October to December. Put it off a bit might be helpful. Step 2 in May or June, step 3 Nov or Dec.
Daniel – I feel like it will be hard to make allocations without understanding the staff current totality of possible projects. Not all the details… in shouldn’t be pie in the sky. WE have shelf-sitting projects more ready to go. like safety work around intersections. It would be helpful to know what staff think are good uses of these funds. Before we decide what goes in each of the buckets.
Tim – I agree with you in spirit. I’m stuck. This is really the next board’s work unless we stick with the step one work. I have a personal interest in preserving that. I thought there were two many steps, but now aI like the plan. Steps 1 and 2 could get done pretty quickly and could be useful, seeing us make decisions. However, i want this to be a good plan for the town, not just that I’l miss out in the conversations.
Ian – we can always modify the plan and change the timelines. So I’ll know how to feel about the buckets.
Tim – It’s chicken and the egg, if the first trench, traucnh is a different number? Should there be a broader conversation. I pushed for this earlier, and about housing and how we could use these fund for housing. If it is overly committed you get pigeonholed into a path and disqualify larger visions in the process.
Liz – I think the work and projects should lead. I’m thrilled the process will start, it needs to be flexible and an idea based schedule and set of numbers. This is an opening salvo, and a shell for the ideas to fill.
Jess – it would be helpful to talk about priorities and our wish list, more important than amounts to spend. That could be helpful guidance to come up with specific projects for us.
Daniel -there is the urban development action grant, too, and $2.25 million maturing that can be used that we use CDGB housing money. Tim was speaking to use ARPA for housing and we didn’t know about this.
Liz -state of VT intends to spend a great deal on housing and we need to understand what they are doing before we act. We have redesigned zoning to accommodate more housing. Other things need to be explored.
Tim – I agree, but it is magical thinking that the state will know what they are thinking. Our responsibility is to find those projects that suit our needs.
Daniel – it is kinda obvious that we will need to coordinate with site partners. They will do their best to tell us what is happening.
Liz – two weeks ago I went to a meeting where the state delivered money o Tru park. Planning Dept knows about potential projects and what is needed. We can do this and can do a good job. And programming.
Jess – outside of our process, what about community engagement? Is that beyond this room? Maybe the communications coordinator could help.
Ian – did this schedule and process consider community engagement?
John – yes. In step 3 and step 5 we would do an engagement process. It could be at your meetings or as other meetings as well.
Dale Joy – we did discuss some of this in December. The two big issues were housing first and then our recreational department for replacing things at memorial park. Those are two big items that make our community a community. If the state does housing, we don’t have to think as much. 70% immigration to VT could mean we need more housing.
Dick Degray – Jessica touched upon public participation. This schedule is very aggressive. March? The next time you meet you will be discussing $500k projects. Sounds like the administration ahas divided this up. Where is the public participation in this process? They can weigh in on what staff suggests? Can they make direct suggestions? This has been sitting for a while. Trying to spend funds in the next few months isn’t a good idea. Lengthen the prices a bit. EMS … it sounds like you know something the public doesn”t know yet.
Ian – not sure where you got the numbers from…
Daniel – I there out numbers as examples.
Ian – the board hasn’t approved any numbers or buckets and there is concern about the schedule and public participation. This is a proposed idea to be discussed.
John – we don’t have any great sense of what projects could be. Staff have some ideas. One was around the AP Triton report – to address fire response adequately. There are other things on that list.
Ian – we could hear on the 14th what staff think are immediate things and if there are some medium or long term things we could consider them as well. We don’t need to make any decision that night maybe the schedule is a little aggressive. Maybe not.
Liz – the important thing is to start. And this is as good a start as any.
David Levenbach – thanks. This is probably an amplification of Tim’s comments. I understand the three buckets. Any idea of the sizes?
Ian – No. It isn’t clear yet. We need additional work to determine that.
David – if there are immediate needs that take up a lot of the total, you have less money to deal with later.
Ian – you articulated what board members have been speaking around. A little worried to not spend too much too quickly if there is something bigger later to spend it on.
Daniel – that’s fair. We don’t have specific projects but we do have a sense of our goals. We’ve worked together for a while now and wrote goals with broad areas of shared interest. if town staff brough us projects ready to fund that aligned with our goals, that would be good information. Housing, community safety… two years ago we wouldn’t have said ambulances but we spent money on studies about public safety expenses, and quality of life. Park and Rec… er Rec and Park. There won’t be big surprises – monorail anybody?
Jessica – it would be great to has out whether the money go to purchases, for planning, for design? I’d love to be able to answer that question.
Liz – we have known unknowns.
Ian – so, could we have town staff come back on 14th with immediate needs but then also beginnings of other ideas? That will aid the board and public in determining bucket sizes and timelines. If not by the 14th, we should modify the schedule. It shouldn’t be rushed.
Liz – it would be most helpful – an overview of potential and what’s possible. Then we can divvy things up. There are a lot of things we can do, and the state gies examples of what other towns have done, and then we can see what’s possible and then our needs can be imposed on those possibilities. That’s a place to start.
Daniel – this is one time generational money. One principle I’d like to apply is that it should be spent on one time generational things, like… it seems kind of obvious.
Tim – I was slightly frustrated that the board… what’s the game where two things get presented at the same time..
Daniel – the challenges are big, but we are amateurs. Staff involved day to day can more easily bring us projects more fleshed out. year round swimming facility. That’s my idea and where it ends. I can guess at it. I have my dog park idea, too. i don’t have much else to offer. Staff can bring us ideas. We can bring our visionary ideas, nut it is easier when we have informed proposals.
Liz – that’s why we have a staff
Tim – and why the staff has a selectboard
John – this is helpful – this may or may not work. Staff will bring back some ideas and thoughts on medium and long term ideas. That keeps the ball rolling, but you could decide to push it off to the fall. That’s the sense I was getting.
Jess – yeas – a pretty good clear summary of where we landed. I don’t feel we need to vote or approve a process. I think this is enough to talk about it. Ian, in you description you mentioned ideas for the community. How do they get on the list?
Ian – time to field community input?
John – if people get ideas to us quickly – probably not a good cost estimate but we could provide it.Not robust engagement…
Daniel – we were to define a transparent process for resident interests. Defining the accessible and transparent process could go beyond the e meetings. Let’s not loose accessibility. Once we make a beginning, then we can proceed at a rate that preserves accessibility.
Ian – ok. So, with that in mind, do we feel comfortable with at least continuing this conversation on the 14th?
Tim – How about 14th and 21st? Not massive conversations, but we’re making the space.
Franz – I kind of… made I missed the boat, it seems to me that one of the casualties of losing a town manager and EMS matters, we lost track of the Long Term Financial Plan – it had been a normal sequence of events. Generationally, the problem is a lack of capital investment. Now there is money to address these issues. It doesn’t need a new process. Look at the Long Term Financial Plan… can we now address some of these now that we have the money? That’s where my mind goes.. to solve a problem already identified.
Tim – I like that comment.
Liz – comment was similar to mine… regular workings of staff.
Ian – on the 14th and 21st?
John – I hope I can live up to your expectations. It will be a wish list.
Ian – if we keep pushing it out we won’t ever get to it. Okay if it just leads to additional discussions.
John – I appreciate the direction.
Daniel – makes motion – to adopt the allocation process with the caveat that we’ll change it if we so wish….
Liz – we don’t need a motion…
John – it could wait til the 14th. We could have brought more info tonight. I understand this now. Let’s table this to the 14th with more info.
They will discuss RTM childcare. I will now retire for the evening…