Meetings on Swinging Bridge Planned for September, October

by Gazette Staff

HARDWICK – At its most recent regular meeting, the Hardwick Select Board covered topics ranging from establishing a Cannabis Control Commission to further planning for repair of the pedestrian bridge in Hardwick village. 

Town Manager David Upson reported that Hardwick will be applying for a By-Law Modernization grant in the amount of $25,000 to potentially add a Neighborhood Development Area. This could help create solutions to the current housing problems.

Upson also noted that, starting August 26, the State of Vermont Liquor and Lottery will be forwarding applications for Tobacco and Tobacco Substitute Endorsement licenses to local governing bodies for approval. Upson asked the board if alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis license approvals should be transferred to the newly formed cannabis commission.

The SE Group will be coming to town for a site visit the first week in September for the pedestrian bridge. There will be a stakeholder meeting at the end of September, and a public meeting in October to unveil two bridge designs.

The Hardwick Planning Commission had its first public hearing on proposed by-law changes. Commission leaders are requesting that the select board schedule a public hearing. The board agreed to hold the meeting on September 15, at 5:30 p.m.

Tom Fadden then presented the road foreman’s report. Fadden reported that the road crew worked on Bridgman Hill Road, Kate Brook Road, and Bayley Hazen Road. Fadden thanked Larry Hamel for all the help that he provided the town. The board asked about legally throwing up the right-of-way on Bayley Hazen Road. Upson said he would look into the question. Fadden also reported that there was a water leak on South Main Street, and a sewer issue on Hideaway Street.

The excavator, loader, and grader will need to be replaced soon. Board Chair Eric Remick asked what was in the budget, and Fadden replied that he believes there is $125,000 for a new excavator. The town has a lease-to-buy agreement for the grader and loader. He stated that there would need to be further discussion during budget season to see how much the town can afford in FY24. Fadden added that the excavator won’t last another year, and that currently there is a six-month wait on receiving equipment.

Next, Interim Police Chief Mike Henry gave the Hardwick Police Department (HPD) report. Henry reported that there has been a staff shortage for the past few weeks due to various reasons, but things will be back to normal soon.

The department ordered body cameras back in June that they still have not received due to issues with the sales representative. He hopes to receive them soon.

HPD worked with the highway department to hang a solar speed sign near the new Buffalo Mountain Co-op location in the village. They will also be putting other speed signs in various locations. Board vice chair Ceilidh Galloway-Kane asked if the signs could transfer data, and the answer is yes. Upson stated that the plan is to purchase one or two more solar signs in the future.

The next agenda item concerned bids for brush clearing of town highway roadsides. Upson stated that the town received two bids. One would cut by hand with chainsaws, but the town would have to provide flaggers. This option would fund eight days of work. The other option involved using machines. With this approach, the available funds would pay for about five days. After much discussion, and wanting to research alternatives, the select board decided to table this until its next meeting.

The board then voted to add Balsam Ridge Road to the town’s list of roads.

Next the board discussed forming a committee for water and sewer rates for FY23. Remick and Galloway-Kane both stated that they would serve on this committee. The town manager, business manager, town clerk, and sewer operator will also be on the committee. Upson stated that he was contacted by a member of the public who might be interested to be on the committee and asked the board if it was okay to reach back out. The board said yes.

The board then voted to approve a formal resolution for forming a cannabis control commission.

Board member Shari Cornish reported that repairs to the commercial spaces within the Bemis Block is ongoing and she has heard from the Galaxy Bookstore that they hope to be reopening in mid-November. She hasn’t heard about the Scale House but has had many inquiries.