DOVER- At its Tuesday evening meeting, the Dover Selectboard gave The Gathering Place $30,000 in economic development funds to assist with their new Dover-based Deerfield Valley facility. The board also heard an update from Southwestern Vermont Economic Development Strategies, discussed a proposal from Green Lantern Solar, and talked to zoning administrator and health officer Wayne Estey about a property under threat of being condemned. The board also approved a bid for a culvert project and gave treasurer Marco Tallini the go-ahead to schedule a tax sale in the fall.
Mary Fredette, executive director of The Gathering Place, showed the board construction and layout plans for the center’s forthcoming Deerfield Valley location, which will be located in the building currently occupied by First Wok. The Gathering Place is under contract to buy the location pending inspections, which occurred on Tuesday. “Based on the verbal read I got today,” said Fredette, “there weren’t any surprises.”
Fredette said The Gathering Place anticipates that renovations to the building will cost between $299,000 and $310,000. She asked the board for $25,000, which she said was equal to the amount that Wilmington had already pledged.
Vice chair Victoria Capitani said that Dover is extremely happy to have The Gathering Place, and introduced a motion to give the center $30,000 rather than the $25,000 requested. The board unanimously approved the motion.
“We are very pleased to have you,” said chair Randall Terk, “and this door is always open.”
Adam Grinold, executive director of Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, was joined by RT Brown, Windham County economic development program project coordinator, and Kristin Mehalick, cooperative internship coordinator, to provide the board with an update about the work SeVEDs is doing in the region. Mehalick talked about upcoming outreach initiatives she will spearhead, and Grinold talked about data collection that will inform future efforts.
“One thing we’re finding when we aggregate for Windham County is that there is an alarmingly high number of young people who are traveling outside of Vermont to earn $10 to $11 per hour,” said Grinold. “They don’t know there are opportunities here.”
Ralph Meima, director of project development for Green Lantern, a solar group, spoke to the board about a proposal his company has submitted for a solar array at the town’s landfill. Terk said he thought the idea was worth exploring, but Kevin Stine, the town’s Windham Regional Commissioner, said he thought the town needed to be more deliberate in its decisions about how and where to introduce solar, noting the recently-passed Act 174, which establishes municipal and regional energy-planning standards.
“I would think it would be beneficial to go a little slower and develop some policy on where you want your energy to come from in this town,” said Stine. “Rather than 10 years down the road, looking around and wondering why we have some here and some there.”
Estey agreed. “I could not agree more with this fellow about having a plan in place before you start making decisions about who can do what where,” said Estey. “I worked for several years as a siting counsel member in Connecticut, and what happens when towns do not have a plan. Those towns that do not have a plan end up with the short end of the stick.”
Terk suggested that the board invite the planning commission to its next meeting.
Estey was present to hear an update from Nicole Fernot about her property, but Fernot was not present. Estey said he would find out what the status of the issue was. At the board’s May 16 meeting, Estey reported that a failing septic system at the property was creating a health concern, saying it was possible the property may have to be condemned. At the board’s June 20 and July 18 meetings, Fernot was present to provide updates that the issue was being addressed. At the latter meeting, Estey said he had witnessed progress at the property and Fernot said she would have a letter from an engineer stating that the system was operational by Tuesday’s meeting.
“If it is operational but there is no inspection because the inspector has not had time to get there, I think that’s OK,” said Terk. “If it’s not completed and there’s a valid reason, and it’s not for lack of some action or due to inaction of Ms. Fernot, it’s out of her control. On the other hand, if it’s because of Ms. Fernot, then I think you need to take the next step.”
The board approved a bid from AS Clark & Sons for a $132,000 culvert project on Holland Road. Work will begin in June 2018. The board said the town would provide one-third of the contracted amount prior to the start of the project in order to cover the costs of materials. Capitani asked that AS Clark & Sons submit copies of bills showing the cost of materials. “We were burned badly on a firehouse roof once,” said Capitani, “so we’re a little gun-shy.”
Tallini asked the board for permission to move forward with planning a tax sale in the town, which will tentatively happen in October. Tallini said the delinquent tax numbers were higher than usual. Terk asked how much of the overall delinquent figure is owed by the Hermitage Club. Of an overall total of $284,538.43 in delinquent taxes, $125,401.50 is from Hermitage-owned properties.
The board gave Tallini the go-ahead to move forward with scheduling the sale.