Senior center makes bid to board
by Lauren Harkawik
May 09, 2017 | 3215 views | 0 0 comments | 137 137 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOVER- At Tuesday’s selectboard meeting, the board heard about The Gathering Place’s plans to open a satellite location in the Deerfield Valley. Vice chair Victoria Capitani, acting as chair in the absence of Randall Terk, asked that the North Branch Fire District board be invited to the selectboard’s next meeting to address their decision not to exempt the town from sewer fees. The board agreed to expand its “Do It” revitalization projects budget, a discussion about new street lamps on the Valley Trail led to some debate, and concerns were raised about bears getting into dumpsters.

The Gathering Place provides adult day and other care services and currently has one location in Brattleboro. Executive director Mary Fredette said the center has plans to open a Deerfield Valley location, which she estimates will serve at least 16, possibly 18 people at first, and may be at full capacity (30 people) within eight months of operation.

Fredette said The Gathering Place has been exploring sites in both Dover and in Wilmington and is in negotiations for a possible location. Fredette said the center had originally been a part of a plan for a community service hub in the old high school in Wilmington. “But it’s been three years,” said Fredette. “And we have a good number of folks coming over the mountain every day to Brattleboro, riding the bus an hour each way. So my board has made the decision to pursue a satellite within this fiscal year.”

Fredette said her hope is to have the new center open before snow starts to fall. She said Wilmington has committed $25,000 and that the group would “hope for $20,000” from Dover, “but would take anything.”

Capitani said that since Town Meeting has passed, the town would need to find a way to appropriate funds and would want to put a warned article on an agenda about the issue. She asked Fredette to come back once she’s able to talk more specifically about where the center will be and what programs it will offer. “I love this idea,” said Capitani. “I think the valley will be better for it.”

Capitani asked assistant town clerk Jeanette Eckert to invite the North Branch Fire District board to attend the Dover Selectboard’s next meeting.

“The electorate has chosen not to exempt any town property from sewage,” said Capitani, adding that the town had received bills for the firehouse, police station, town offices, and that the school will be getting a bill as well. “I’d like to understand what they were thinking, and I’d also ask department heads to try to put a dollar figure on some of the things we do for the North Branch so we have that available.”

Economic development director Ken Black said the town received 17 grant requests through the town’s “Do It” revitalization program. The program offers grants of up to $3,000 for exterior revitalization projects for town businesses, with the business owner covering at least 25% of the project’s costs. The total amount requested was approximately $48,000. The town originally budgeted $36,000 for the program.

“These are pretty good projects,” said Black. “My recommendation is we should fund them all and we should increase the budget by $12,000 to do it.”

The board agreed to fund all of the grant requests.

Black also suggested that the board consider adding street lamps along the Valley Trail, stretching from Layla’s Riverside Inn to the bridge on the trail, totaling about 16,000 feet of trail and requiring 20 lights. The lights would match the ones that were recently installed near the town offices.

Some debate broke out when board member Tom Baltrus questioned whether, if the trail is someday extended to Mount Snow, the town will put lights all the way to the ski resort. Baltrus said he feels the town needs an overall plan for what lights it will install. Baltrus also said he feels the lights are bright, noting that on a recent foggy night, he could see the lights from his home, “which is almost all the way to Wardsboro.”

Black said he thought the lights added a lot of value and could bring more businesses to the town. “If it looked more like a town, maybe folks would open up businesses in certain spots we have available,” said Black. “What comes first, the chicken or the egg? You need to be able to present something that’s aesthetically pleasing. (The lights) are certainly not invasive.”

“I left an urban area to come here for some darkness,” said Baltrus. “And I didn’t move here to make here like there.”

Sandy MacDougall, who owns Layla’s Riverside Lodge, said he was in support of lights on the proposed stretch of trail. “It does go dark over there,” said MacDougall. “It’s not a warm and inviting place.”

“You’re going to have to buy window shades,” said Baltrus.

Despite his concerns, Baltrus said he was fine with the town putting out an RFP to get potential pricing for the proposed lamps. The board approved a motion to do so.

Mark Sprague asked the board to look into what might be done about bears getting into dumpsters at businesses in Dover, which he said is leading to garbage being spread on properties and in the woods. Sprague asked if there is a way to ensure that garbage is secured and that people clean up garbage spread by bears.

“It’s not the bears’ problem,” said Sprague. “Bears are opportunists. People are creating the problem.”

In correspondence on Wednesday, Eckert said she has contacted zoning administrator and health officer Wayne Estey, who has begun work on the issue.

Eckert said she also reached out to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns regarding a possible ordinance on the matter.
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