Select Board Wants to Hear From Wolcott Residents

by Doug McClure

WOLCOTT – At the final July meeting last Wednesday, Wolcott Select Board Chair Linda Martin said that the board now had multiple opportunities for things that would improve the town, and wanted to inform the public.

“I’m feeling that we’re at places with different things that we’re working on, that it’s time for community involvement,” said Martin. She spoke of the proposed town forest, the upcoming American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, signage for the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT), and broadband. The board also, in her opinion, needed to decide once and for all what to do about the old schoolhouse.

“Personally, I’m getting sick of [doing] studies and not doing anything,” Martin said, later adding, “Even though we have the authority to do all these things without [residents’] permission, I think it’s only respectful that they’re involved in the decision-making. But, I don’t like it when people make decisions when they’re uninformed.”

The board felt it had done its homework on all of the issues, vice chair Kurt Klein said, calling Martin’s proposal an “excellent, excellent” idea. Klein wanted whatever form the meeting took to include a way to “present what we have learned and researched in the past year.” 

It was suggested that perhaps each of the main topics be set up with a station, like a small community fair, where people could learn in-depth about topics from the people on the select board or other town entities most involved. 

Klein suggested that “maybe the way to bring people here is with food,” which led board member Richard Lee to jokingly suggest that the board “set it up as a gauntlet, so [people] have to go through it to get to the barbecue.”

Town Administrator Randall Szott saw an opportunity for this to be part of a “more concerted effort to inform the public in general.” He suggested considering a “plain-language summary” of select board agendas and minutes for residents, that would be available for them to read. 

Board member Kurt Billings worried about the ability of people without internet service to access those summaries and suggested that instead of only making them available at the town office, make them available at the Wolcott Store. Billings said that in his case, his work schedule means it would not be possible to pick something up from the town office due to its hours. He said he had an issue recently with another notice because it was only at the town office.

“I hate to say it,” said Billings, “but if it was only posted here [in the town office], I never found out.”

Szott had a second idea for the board itself.

“Right now, the board is operating in a purely reactive mode. ‘Here are the twenty things that have come up, here the twenty things we knock down.’ [What about] having a meeting where the board discusses, ‘here are the things we want to do’?”

Martin said something like a one-day “retreat” could work. Regarding the larger community event, the board is going to revisit the topic at its next meeting in August to finalize plans. Martin suggested that the event should be held “right after Labor Day, before it gets too chilly,” and wanted to see the fire department, the historical society, and “all of our boards and organizations” involved.