The White River Valley Herald

Legal Trail Usage, H.S. Bldg. Vote Date Topics for Rochester Selectboard

The Rochester Selectboard met in person and via Zoom on Monday evening, Aug. 22.

After minutes of the prior meeting on August 8, 2022 were approved, the board heard from Nic Darbeloff, who owns property in the Rogers Peak area abutting Route 100 near Jerusalem Hill Road. He inquired about improving a legal trail there to be used for potential access to a home site.

Board chair Doon Hinderyckx suggested an alternate access route, and Darbeloff said the three access options he suggested “all have their pros and cons.” The prospective house site is about 300-400 feet to the east off the legal trail and he hopes to begin the construction process next summer.

Abutting landowner Larry Straus shared his concerns about “setting a legal precedent for legal trail usage and making the right decision for the long term.”

Following discussion, the board said it will do some research and consider the matter further, so no decision was made that night.

Next up, the board voted to renew and sign the North Hollow Farm Lease for another five years.

Repurposing Committee members Kathryn Schenkman and Vic Ribaudo spoke during a discussion on choosing a date for a high school building acquisition vote. Schenkman said the committee had started the process of the environmental study, and Dick Robson has taken up the flood plain issue. There will most likely be ground testing around the in-ground tank onsite. She suggested waiting to have the vote on whether or not the town will purchase the building until town meeting next March, since all the studies will be done by then. The board agreed with her and said the vote should be done by Australian ballot. Schenkman asked the board to give her any questions they had and said she would get answers for them.

During a lengthy discussion, Rob Gardner said “this is a very complicated issue” and said he felt that voters needed to receive more information via meetings and mailings.

Midge Scanlan said she felt the committee had worked hard to “be very public and move the process forward, sharing as much as possible.”

Town Clerk Julie Smith noted that she and assistant clerk Kristen LaPell had sent out notices with the tax bills asking for voters to share their e-mail addresses, for use in sending out mass e-mails about town issues, such as this one.

After the discussion, the board voted to sign a Vermont Community Development Program and Vermont Housing and Community Development Board Section #106 Preliminary Review Form giving the committee permission to move forward with the environmental study and giving no financial burden to the town.

In other news, the board approved the Kingsbury paving contract for a bid of $37,100 for work by the town garage and stormwater remediation project. Christian Pelletier of the White River Partnership noted that additional paving goes with the scope of the project being completed now.

Board assistant Joan Allen gave her final update, as her last day on the job is this Friday, Aug. 26. She said she had worked on the contract for the town office tank removal, and spoken with Norm Christiansen and Dean Mendell about the grant funding for work at SkateSpace. The board thanked her for “seven plus years of hard work on the town’s behalf.”

Library Trustee Tony Goupee reported that the library would have an information booth at the Harvest Fair on Saturday, Sept. 10.

In highway department news, Frank Severy said there had been a request regarding a trail over in Gilead for logging access, which he will investigate; and also noted that the underground tank removal from the town office would be done this week.

Utilities Operator Terry Severy noted that storm drain work on Main Street would be happening this week.

Board member Pat Harvey suggested that the board have further discussion about remaining ARPA funds.

In old business, a master financial policies discussion and adoption of sections 1,3,4 was tabled.

The board then went into executive session to discuss a real estate issue. After coming out of the session, the board authorized the repurposing committe to seek funds to hire a project manager.

The next regular selectboard meeting will be Monday, Sept. 12, 2022 at 6:15 p.m.