Selectboard member Susan Haughwout pointed out that the town should consider the request.“I don’t see it as any different than when the Wine and Harvest Festival was moved to the base of Mount Snow. I worked that festival, and there was a lot of control by volunteers who tell people what they can and can’t do, and people can’t take drinks in or out of certain areas.”
Haughwout and board member Diane Chapman said the board should give both Szarejko and Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director Adam Grinold the chance to talk to the board about the plan. Murphy explained the town would not have to worry about actually lifting the open container ordinance, as town-owned land, such as the courts, is covered by a permit. Board vice chair Jim Burke asked that the town speak with fire chief Ken March as well, explaining that the tennis courts have only one exit, and that there may need to be a limit on the number of people allowed in at one time.
Board member Jacob White believes a definitive “no” from the board would be closed-minded. “We’re trying to make the town better for people to come to. No is a negative and if this is controlled, it may be accessible as long as we know the limits of what they are allowed to do, and that people can’t bring drinks onto the field.”
Selectboard chair Meg Streeter said the board should hold their questions for their next meeting, when they would be able to talk to Grinold, Szarejko, and March.
Murphy presented the board with a draft of the town’s tax stabilization plan that the selectboard has considered instituting. The plan would allow a new business to come to town without having to pay 100% property taxes immediately. Rather, over a five-year period, they would be raised by 20% each year. The plan would also include tax costs for businesses that wanted to expand. “Along with digital assistance, the revolving loan fund, and Wilmington Works, this is another thing we can use to help someone look longer and closer at Wilmington for opening or expanding a business,” explained Murphy.
Burke asked Murphy if the plan would include businesses that move into a building and renovate the building rather than expand it. “We can’t reduce their taxes,” said Murphy, “and it (renovating) may not increase the value because the building has the same footprint, but with the limited increase it does go up we can use these criteria to help.” Adding to Burke’s point, Haughwout asked if there was a way the program would help fill the empty buildings downtown.
“What confuses me about the evaluation in general,” said Haughwout, “is, to me, a commercial building empty is not as valuable as one being actually used and proving value. They’re not as valuable as when they were functioning. Is there a project for that?”
“Not with tax stabilization,” answered Murphy. “You have an assessed property value and unless the owner grieves and gets it lowered, no.
“What generally happens is if that vacated property sits there for a long time, the value goes down, and so does the market rate. If a property is purchased at a lower price, we can possibly use this evaluation.”
While the town’s voters will have to approve the plan, Haughwout said she was wary of some of the plan’s requirements for businesses, such as one that requires businesses to provide employees with paid vacations, set standards for wages, and health insurance requirements. “I agree with the idea of looking at jobs with equal or greater than average wage, but in a resort area it’s a struggle with making sick days and paid vacation as requirements.”
The board came to a conclusion on the proposed fee schedule for usage of Memorial Hall. For nonresidents and nontaxpayers of the town of Wilmington, usage of the hall will require a $100 fee, while residents and taxpayers will be able to use it free of charge for events where an attendance fee is not being charged. The board will oficially vote on the schedule when the language has been cleared up for a final draft.
Streeter informed the board that John Gannon and Bob Fisher had been elected as the Wilmington Fund VT’s representatives on the Wilmington Works advisory board, along with Grinold, who will be the chamber’s representative. These three along with Chapman and Haughwout, the selectboard representatives, will now be tasked with interviewing and choosing town business and property owners to serve alongside them.
Chris Lavoy, operator of the Wilmington Water District, discussed a recently received water supply options evaluation report from SVE Associates, a Brattleboro-based engineering consulting firm. The report is a comparison of alternative water supply options for the water district. According to the report, the district’s water supply contains several spring sources that are under the influence of surface water and are therefore subject to specific EPA requirements, including one that requires the installation of treatment for the pathogen cryptosporidium by October 1, 2014.
Wilmington Water District has informed the state of their intention to install an ultraviolet system that would provide the treatment, but has also asked SVE to investigate and compare other options, including the development of a drilled well as a replacement water source, and the installation of shallow groundwater systems to replace the surface water sources.
Lavoy reported that while the only current option is to install the UV system, due to ongoing negotiations with well site owners and the US Forest Service, the most cost-effective choice for the town would be a well source.
“The cost analysis leans toward a drilled well as the best option.” said Lavoy. “ While it may be more up front, operational costs are less over time.” Lavoy said negotiations with the landowner of the proposed sight have been going well.
Murphy finished the meeting by announcing the town would be erecting a volunteer recognition display near the town meeting room that will consist of a glass case where names of volunteers can be displayed each month in recognition of their work.