Select Board Starts Planning for Town Meeting

by Gazette Staff

WOLCOTT – The Wolcott Select Board’s Oct. 19 agenda ranged from budget requests to culvert repair to whether town meeting should be conducted as a hybrid meeting.
As usual, the meeting started with comments from the community/correspondence. Dolan Patrick asked the board if there is any interest in having town meeting be a hybrid meeting. Residents not physically present would be unable to vote on any issues brought up on the floor, or for town officers, who will be elected by Australian ballot. One possibility would be to live stream and record town meeting, so those unable to attend could view it live or afterwards. Another option would be to allow residents to type a question or comment into the Zoom chat box, so that remote attendees could participate in discussions. The select board will consider the options and discuss them at a December meeting.
On the topic of budget hearings, Bernard Earle has requested that the budget for health officer remain the same at $850 for the next fiscal year. He also requested that the budget for fire warden remain the same at $850 for the next fiscal year.
Dean Mercier, animal control officer, has requested that the salary for the animal control officer remain the same at $2,627 for the next fiscal year. Mileage has been budgeted at $1,000
per year.

In the project manager report, board vice chair Kurt Klein reported that the plow truck is scheduled for delivery on October 20. The handyman has started working 16 hours per week. Klein noted that the handyman has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. Martin noted that the town will save money in the long run when maintenance is done in a timely manner. The handyman task list can be accessed in the town administrator office. The board determined that the handyman can purchase needed supplies on behalf of the town not to exceed $250. The project manager will sign off on statements when they come in. Painting of the exterior of the town garage should be completed
soon.

The litter committee has scheduled a Fall Green Up Day for October 22. Volunteers can pick up bags and help themselves to chili, sloppy joes, and other treats at the gazebo that day.

The Helpsy textile bins have been delivered to the transfer station. Donations will be accepted starting October 29.

The owner of a mobile home by the School Street bridge was sent a letter seeking to address the disrepair of the property.
Work needs to be completed on the town’s hybrid meeting system. There are many committees and groups that need to be able to access the system to hold their meetings.
A section of the parking lot by the post office is owned by Champlain Oil. Champlain Oil is offering to sell the parcel to the town. Since there had been a gas station on that land, the town applied for brownfield funds from the Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC) for a Phase 1 assessment. A Phase 2 assessment of whether contamination is present will be ordered if needed. 

A grant opportunity for a stone screener was discussed at the October 5 meeting. It appears the actual cost for the equipment is higher than had been thought. LCPC recommends pricing the equipment and then calculating what the town share/contribution would be. A decision would need to be made before the end of the fiscal year.
Discussion then turned to the School Street bridge. In discussing the conceptual plans, the board noted there will be a minor change in the design of the bridge to improve visibility. The bridge will also be a bit longer and will include a sidewalk area. Right-of-way issues have not yet been addressed. Following discussion, the board accepted the conceptual plans.
Martin and Klein have been meeting with representatives from Johnson and Hyde Park about the possibility of sharing the services of an assessor. LCPC would be the service provider. Johnson and Hyde Park have each committed to pay for an assessor for eight hours per week. The board voted to commit to four hours per week towards the services of an assessor to be shared with Johnson and Hyde Park and to be hired by LCPC. 

Martin received word from Kate Wanner, from the Trust for Public Land, that the Lamoille Habitat for Humanity Board voted to proceed with accepting a donation of a one-acre parcel of land along Rte. 15 for construction of a duplex that will be permanently affordable, in exchange for funding. There is a possibility that the land is a brownfield site because a mobile home that had been on the land many years ago was burned. Further assessments will be done.Next, the board discussed the idea of applying for a 2023 Municipal Planning Grant to look at having a café in the old Schoolhouse as an economic driver, and to look at parking issues related to a café. The board voted to approve moving forward with a Municipal Planning Grant.
Joey Wilson, of Wilson Consulting Engineers, has completed his work on the Brook Road box culvert. The town has received a grant recommendation from District 6 Vermont Agency of Transportation to do a study of a broken culvert on Town Hill. The question is whether to replace the box culvert, or build a bridge at some point. Wilson Consulting Engineers submitted a cost estimate for $60,000, which is the same amount as the grant. The question for the board is whether to move forward with Wilson’s cost estimate or put the work out for bid. The board decided to move forward and not seek bids, given the town’s experience with Wilson Consulting Engineers.