Town sets timeline on Valley Trail expansion
by Mike Eldred
Jan 13, 2014 | 2823 views | 1 1 comments | 93 93 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new section of the Valley Trail will run through West Dover’s historic district.
A new section of the Valley Trail will run through West Dover’s historic district.
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DOVER- The southern extension of the Valley Trail could get underway by spring of 2015, according to Dover Economic Development Director Ken Black. At their regular meeting Tuesday evening, selectboard members agreed to split the extension, known as the Valley Trail “A” section, into two different projects.

The first section will run from a point just north of the intersection of Dorr Fitch Road and Route 100 and end at North Realty. The second section would run from Dorr Fitch Road to Tollgate Village. Black noted that the second section would include a pedestrian bridge over the North Branch of the Deerfield River, which he said could cost as much as $150,000, as well as crosswalks traversing Dorr Fitch Road and Route 100.

Splitting the “A” section into two projects could bring in more state funding, Black indicated. “We can apply the entire (existing) $300,000 grant to the section that’s north of Dorr Fitch Road, and apply for another VTrans grant for the south section, and we can put the landscaping in that grant, too.” Black said the Vermont Agency of Transportation supported the plan to split the trail section into two projects.

Black said transportation officials told him that the soonest the town was likely to break ground on the project was spring 2015. “We found there are a lot of delays caused by the amount of work, the approval process they have to go through. Once the preliminary design report is submitted to VTrans, there’s a one-month approval process. Unfortunately, we can’t go out and get any of the easements (from property owners) until the preliminary design is approved.”

Black also noted that, for easements involving more than $10,000 worth of property, the town is required to get an appraisal.

Black said a decision had been made to include basic infrastructure such as underground conduit in the project, so that future planned upgrades such as the installation of lighting will be easier. “At some point, there’s going to be a merging of Valley Trail section ‘A’ with the landscape architecture piece,” said Black, referring to a landscaping plan the town commissioned in 2012. “While we have things dug up, it’s a good idea to lay some of the conduit down so we can put in lights later.”

In related matters, the board held a hearing with planning commission chair Nicolas Wallaert on the readoption of the current town plan.

Several weeks ago, Wallaert told board members that the current plan was about to expire, and the planning commission has not completed work on an updated plan. He proposed readopting the current plan as a stopgap until the new plan can be completed, presented to the public, and adopted. Without a town plan, he warned, Dover would no longer be eligible for certain state grants.

“In the meantime, we are working on the new one,” Wallaert said Tuesday evening. “We still have the nitty-gritty to look into, and we need to add a chapter on economic development we need to finish.”

Dover resident William “Buzzy” Buswell said he had a controversial issue that someone had to address “now that we’re in the time-share business.” Buswell referred to a number of Dover Watch time-shares that the town took at a delinquent tax sale.

“We can do nothing,” Wallaert said. “The suggestion from the lawyer is for (Dover Watch) to come up with a proposal for the town to consider.”

As Buswell continued, selectboard chair Randy Terk reminded him that the hearing was to take public comment on the existing town plan, rather than to propose issues to be tackled in the new town plan.

“We have to address it,” Buswell protested.

“I’m suggesting this is not the appropriate venue, it needs to be taken up at a planning commission meeting,” said Terk.

“Well, we can disagree,” Buswell said. “My comment is that this is something that’s been going on three or four years and we need to do something about it. It’s a major problem, and there’s still a burden on the taxpayers of Dover.”

In other discussions, the board met with BDCC Director of Economic Development Laura Sibilia regarding funding from Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies. Sibilia said SeVEDS was seeking funding from all 27 of the towns in the area they cover. “This year we’re requesting that towns don’t ask us to petition to be on the warning,” she said. “Last year several towns did, and we were unsuccessful in getting petitions signed in all towns in time.”

But Sibilia said that in every town that included the funding as an article on their warning, the funding was approved. This year, she said, all of the towns except one have agreed to put the funding on their warning. Terk suggested that it could be included in the town’s budget as a line item. “We’re happy to have it warned as an article or in the budget,” Sibilia said. “A lot of towns have less experience with SeVEDS and I think the conversation is good to have. I think it’s important to have it in Dover, too.”

Board member Vicki Capitani said she’d like to have the funding included as an article. “It forces the conversation.”

Sibilia said SeVEDS is asking Dover for $3,372. The funding request is figured on a rate of $3 per resident, based on the current population – Dover’s official population is 1,124.

Among other economic development efforts, the funding will support workforce development. Sibilia noted that former SeVEDS Workforce Development Director Pat Moulton Powden has stepped into the position of BDCC Executive Director after the retirement of Jeff Lewis, and SeVEDS has recently hired Andrew Robinson as the new director of workforce development. Robinson will continue work Moulton Powden began to evaluate long-term workforce needs in Windham County based on growth, turnover, and retirement, Sibilia said.

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areader2
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January 14, 2014
no one knows how to bleed the system like these towns do