The Hardwick Gazette

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Select Board Discusses Snowmobile Speed Limits on Rail Trail

by Gazette Staff

HARDWICK – At its December 1 meeting, the Hardwick Select Board discussed snowmobile speed limits, moving the town garage and fire department, and security systems for town buildings.

The first topic of conversation was introduced by resident Ross Connelly, who attended the meeting to express his concerns about the Rail Trail. Connelly said that, while he thinks that the trail is a wonderful asset to the town, he is concerned about the 35 mph speed limit signs posted by the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST). Connelly said that he thinks that 35 mph is too fast. He doesn’t want to see public safety sacrificed for one group of individuals who use the trail, when there are several groups who use the trails.

There was discussion about these same speed signs being posted in various areas throughout the trail system. Town Manager David Upson indicated that he’s been contacted by the Vermont Office of Public Safety and there is concern about safety on the rail trail, which is why they are offering law enforcement grants to purchase snowmobiles to patrol the trails and enforce the speed limits.

Select board Vice Chair Ceilidh Galloway-Kane said that the town might be able to ask the state about lowering the limits near the village area. She also suggested the use of one of the portable radar signs near the Hardwick Health Center.

Board chair Eric Remick commented that we have not had a full winter with the trail system, so it would be good to see how this first winter goes. Board member Elizabeth Dow agreed with Connelly that 35 mph within a village is too fast.

Connelly added that he would like to see the town discuss the issue with Jackie Cassino, who works for the state’s Agency of Transportation. The board generally agreed that the issue is worth asking about.

Next, Upson gave the town manager’s report. He updated the board on several items, including the progress of a purchase and sales agreement for the Davis gravel pit that the town would like to purchase, continued negotiations with the police and public works unions for new contracts, and the bridge survey.
David shared that Community Development Coordinator Tracy Martin had submitted a grant application for the feasibility study for moving the town garage and the fire department to Carey Road. He reported that the downtown paving project contract is coming to an end, but there are several items that still need to be addressed, including paint at some of the crosswalks and other painted markings, which will be addressed in the spring.

Upson also talked about the opioid settlement and how the funds could be used to revitalize the senior center-side of the public safety building space to make it a true community space.

Upson also gave the road foreman report on behalf of Tom Fadden. Upson said that he met with Michel Renaud to look at some large roadside trees on Center Road that need to be removed. Weather permitting, Renaud may be able to start removal work next week and finish up in the spring.
Remick asked if all the town trucks were running and Upson was happy to report that, as of now: yes!

The Hardwick Police Department (HPD) report was given by interim Police Chief Mike Henry, who has been working with the town’s business manager on the COPS grant audit. This was a random audit for the 2017 award. There was a large amount of information that had to be collected to complete the audit. A video conference with the COPS office is scheduled for December 29.

HPD is trying to sell the 2018 Taurus Interceptor. It has been advertised on Facebook Marketplace, along with some accessories they no longer need (sold separately).

Henry also mentioned that HPD has been seeing a lot of “leaving the scene of an accident” incidents and added that the department offers fingerprinting services. There is a $25 fee for the service.

The board then voted to dissolve the downtown commission since the Hardwick Downtown Partnership has now been officially formed.

The next agenda item was a discussion of network hardware for the security at town buildings. Upson said that he obtained three quotes for the hardware. Board vice chair Galloway-Kane asked if this would cover all departments. Upson said yes; it includes the Memorial Building, library, police department, highway garage and wastewater plant. The board voted to purchase the hardware at a cost not to exceed $14,000.

Recreation Coordinator Jason Bahner was present to discuss the recreation department budget, which proposed an increase of $2,000 for community programming. He said the recreation department had a very successful soccer youth clinic and want to increase funding to attract more people to future programs.

Further budget discussion focused on increased heating fuel oil costs. Remick suggested keeping an eye on the market over the next month or so before the final budget is approved.

The police budget has the lowest proposed increase for all departments, 1.88%. This budget shows four full-time officers and a chief, as well as four part-time officers working 900 hours\ per year each. This is the same level of current staffing.

There was discussion about the fireworks, which are a $6,000 expense. The board’s consensus was to remove the fireworks line item and the related donation revenue and have the recreation department use some of its community programming funds towards the Spring Fest.

Remick mentioned that the Yellow Barn project bid due date was extended to December 15.

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