Progress on Wastewater Lagoon Cleanup

by Gazette Staff

HARDWICK – At its September 1 meeting, the Hardwick Select Board discussed the swinging bridge rebuilding project, an urgent alert system and progress on work on the wastewater plant.

Town Manager David Upson gave his regular report, starting with the sludge clean-out project at the wastewater plant. Upson reported that 25 loads of sludge have been shipped to a handling facility in Quebec. The total shipped to date represents approximately 500 wet tons of sludge. At an average of 35.7% solids, that equates to 154.5 dry tons. He added that Lagoon No. 2 is about halfway done. Lagoon liners have been delivered and, overall, the project is going well and as expected.

Upson also reported that SE Group, a design company with offices in Burlington, will conduct a site visit and that Engineering Ventures, an engineering company that also has offices in Burlington, will inspect the swinging bridge abutments. The inspection report will determine whether it is possible to use the existing abutments for the new bridge. The plan is to have two designs available for review near the end of October or middle of November. A community meeting will be held to review the designs.

Starting September 1, Kenny LaCasse will be the temporary water systems operator for the East Hardwick Fire District No. 1. Upson said that he will be working with the fire district to compensate the Town of Hardwick for travel with a town vehicle and time spent on daily tests.

Upson also shared that Hardwick is creating a database of emails to provide Instant Alert Notification for important alerts, such as boil water notices. Residents are to visit the town website (hardwickvt.gov) to sign up for the alerts. The system offers a choice between “all alerts” or just water alerts.

Upson also reported that the North Main Street stormwater project is almost complete.

Select board member Shari Cornish asked for an update on the installation of an electric vehicle (EV) charger in town. Upson indicated that Norwich EV, the company that will install the charger, is still looking for a public site because the Buffalo Co-op parking lot has proved to be more challenging than expected. (There are two chargers near Lamoille Valley Ford by the car wash.)

Road Foreman Tom Fadden reported that the road crew fixed three water leaks and completed another section of the Church Street sidewalks. They also handed out 60-plus notices for water/sewer disconnects. Tom encouraged people to pay prior to disconnection because it is more costly have service disconnected and then reconnected.

Fadden also reported that the crew graded Pumpkin Lane, Hardwick Farms, Montgomery Road, Ward Hill, Mountain View, West Hill, Dimick Road, and part of Bridgman Hill. They also did ditch work on Dutton Rpad and Hopkins Hill, and replaced a three-foot culvert on Hardwick Farms Road. The price of culverts has doubled from last year, so that one culvert used all the culvert budget for the year.

Interim Police Chief Mike Henry gave the Hardwick Police (HPD) report, noting that HPD has partnered with the health center to distribute gunlocks to the community. The locks are free, and anyone can get one at the police station at 56 High Street.

Henry reported that HPD responded to a total of 266 incidents in August. He reported that motor vehicle violations are up, and officers have been seeing a lot of suspended license drivers. Several people were also arrested on existing warrants during traffic stops.

Henry shared that the new police cruiser has been picked up. The cruiser needs some parts before it goes into service. Delivery of the parts may take several months due to supply chain delays. HPD will sell its 2018 sedan once this cruiser is available to be used.

The first agenda item for discussion was a review of options for clearing brush along of town highway roadsides. The plan is to rent tractors with boom mowers and have the road crew clear as much ground as they can in three full workdays. This will give an indication of whether the town should rent equipment again or pursue another option next year. An initial estimate indicated that purchasing equipment to do the job would cost in the range of $145,000 to $180,000.

Next, the board voted unanimously to sign another one-year contract with Town Manager Upson.

In select board reports, board member Danny Hale gave an update on what VASA has been doing on the trails, and board chair Eric Remick noted that the board needs to meet with the Hardwick Electric Department (HED) commissioners to discuss a town policy related to land around Nichols Pond. 

Board member Cornish wanted to remind people about the burn ordinance, noting that residents need a burn permit from the Forest Fire Warden Doug Casavant. The ordinance is on the town’s website.

Cornish also asked about an update on the Town Property Task Force that is reviewing the possible sale of the Carey Road property for a housing development. Upson said that he has contacted three surveyors, but they are all booked out until June of 2023. The board needs to decide what it wants to do with the Carey Road property, but a survey needs to be completed first.

Cornish also brought up that the board is supposed to review the East Hardwick walk audit, which was submitted to the board several meetings ago.