The White River Valley Herald

Rochester Selex Hear From H.S. Repurposing Committee

The Rochester Selectboard met on Monday evening, Sept. 14, via Zoom.

The first half hour of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of issues Great Hawk residents had with roadside mowing work done by the town crew. Norm Christiansen spoke for many of his neighbors, saying they were “upset with the extent of the cutting and degree of destruction” and the number of tree branches left on the road.

He noted that each year, Great Hawk residents “spend a lot of money” cleaning up the roads after winter, and they hope the town will collaborate with them to do a better job on the mowing. They had three requests: that the town clean the ditches, the selectboard collaborate with the Great Hawk board to work on the problem, and that the selectboard consider phasing out this form of cutting trees each year.

Selectboard chair Doon Hinderyckx replied that “the idea of stopping roadside cutting is pretty much a non-starter,” but added that “I think we can work together to mitigate the intensity of the mowing.”

Christiansen suggested that Great Hawk hire contractors to cut selected areas and Hinderyckx suggested that the town road foreman John Champion ride with them to help plan ahead. He agreed that they can all work together and said he will meet with them on-site to talk further about the issue.

Former High School

There was an hour-long discussion generated by a progress report from the Envision Rochester High School Repurposing Committee, with committee members, including Vic Ribaudo, Robert Meagher, and Kathryn Schenkman, bringing the selectboard up to date on their work.

The committee was formed after an Envision Rochester community-wide workshop held last February identified the repurposing of the empty Rochester HS building as an area of great interest.

Schenkman said that the committee has met regularly since last winter, exploring a number of ideas for using the building, such as having a maker space, and would like to check with the selectboard to find out its level of commitment to the town acquiring and re-purposing that building which they consider “a unique and valuable asset to the community. How can the committee, selectboard, and school board work together on this?”

At Monday’s meeting, the committee’s written report included a request that the selectboard “formally commit to its intention of acquiring the high school building from the school board. Additionally, we will respectfully request that the school board come to a definitive decision about the availability of the high school building for re-purposing, and that a repurposed high school building can continue to reserve space for educating public school students.”

Vic Ribaudo noted that there was “a whole lot of work to be done” but what they were most concerned with was making sure the selectboard supported the idea. He suggested that they work together to come up with a plan on how to proceed.

Selectboard member Frank Severy said he felt that they needed to get more input from the community before they made any decisions.

Committee member Rob Gardner pointed out that the selectboard, school board, and committee need to have someone who is in charge of better coordinating things so they can work together.

Selectboard member Pat Harvey agreed to be the point person on the selectboard for communication with the committee and the school board.

Other News

Board assistant Joan Allen reported that there would be a virtual bid opening the next day for stream alteration repair work on the Mendell property.

Town Clerk Julie Smith said she was still waiting to hear from the state regarding the school tax rate billing information.

The board spent the remainder of the meeting in executive session discussing an employee issue.

The next regular Rochester Selectboard meeting will be on Monday, Sept. 28 at 6 p.m., via Zoom.