Select Board Moves Forward with Pedestrian Bridge Planning

by Gazette Staff

HARDWICK – At its Jan. 5 regular meeting, the Hardwick Select Board agenda covered topics from EV chargers to town meeting and the pedestrian bridge restoration.

The first topic of discussion was charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs). Zarina Castro came to discuss electric charging stations within Hardwick. She has an electric car and would like to see the town be more proactive about getting more charging stations. Board Vice Chair Ceilidh Galloway-Kane indicated that the Hardwick Electric Department (HED) gives regular updates on charging stations. HED is also working on a station behind its building. Nancy Kellogg shared her experience with lack of chargers when her son visited from out of state and couldn’t find a fast charger at a reasonable rate. It was suggested that the residents go to the HED commissioner meeting to discuss their concerns.

Next, in the town manager’s report, David Upson explained that the Lead Survey Inventory for water connections is required to be completed by October 2024. The town needs to inventory the type of pipe from every water connection to the meter. A lot of the information is already available from the meter installations and the mapping that was done in 2016.

Road Foreman Tom Fadden reported that there are a few potholes, but the roads are holding up okay overall. The road crew plans to haul gravel, weather permitting, and patch up some of the potholes. The crew also worked on a couple of sewer issues and a pump house issue on Glenside Avenue.
Fadden also reported that the F-550 has been down for three weeks. Truck #4 was also down for a week or so during the storm but is fixed now. Truck No. 2 had a leak that has since been repaired. The Toolcat and snowblower also had issues which have been resolved.

The Hardwick Police Department (HPD) report was given by interim Police Chief Michael Henry. Henry reported that the COPS Grant Audit was completed on December 29. It went well. He worked with the business manager to complete it.

Henry indicated that HPD is continuing to see many cases of people leaving the scene of accidents (LSA).
The department has stepped up its DUI enforcement using State Highway Safety Office grant funds. Officer Force is heading up the DUI efforts. Henry reported that Force is doing a great job at getting impaired drivers off the road.

HPD will be doing snowmobile patrols once there is snow cover. HPD has two snowmobiles coming from Buffalo Mountain Powersports soon. Speed patrols will be done on the rail trail. There will be training this month for the snowmobiles.

The agenda item concerned the potential sale of property on Caspian Avenue that the town acquired via tax collector’s deed. Kristina Michelsen, Dean and Kelley Mercier’s attorney, reached out to Upson via email to see if the town would accept less money than the purchase and sales contract because she can’t provide title insurance or clear title. She asked if we would accept just what the town has spent on the property, instead of the $15,000 that was originally agreed upon. The consensus was that a reduced price will not change the title issues. A decision was tabled until the town can talk with its attorney about how to clear up the title so it can be transferred to the Merciers.

Next, the board voted unanimously to approve a cannabis cultivator license for Vtegridy Farms.

The pedestrian bridge was the next topic of conversation. SE Group, the design architect for the pedestrian bridge replacement, provided a summary document about the bridge design options, costs, and public engagement process. The most popular bridge restoration option in the public survey also happened to be the least expensive.

SE Group’s estimate is $1,049,310 which includes some options that will not be included in the final plan, as well as a 10 percent contingency. Upson thinks the final cost will be lower than the SE Group estimate. The town currently has $620,000 of funds for the project and will be applying for a $200,000 Downtown Transportation grant, which would bring the total to $820,000. The full SE Group report can be seen by contacting the town manager’s office.

Next, the board discussed the time and date for a public hearing about the gravel pit bond.
The hearing needs to be within 10 days of town meeting. It was decided to combine the hearing with the pre-town meeting budget session at 5:30 p.m., on March 2, before the regular select board meeting.

Next, Business Manager Casey Rowell shared the most recent draft of the FY24 budget. Topics of discussion included the increased request for the town cemeteries, and using the remaining uncommitted ARPA funds as one-time revenue. The board also discussed the capital budget for sidewalks and guard rails, and a specific improvement line for East Hardwick village. It was decided that a separate line for East Hardwick was not necessary as long as the sidewalks and other improvements are included in the town’s schedule. The town is in the process of creating a sidewalk replacement schedule.
Under select board reports, board member Danny Hale reported that the black bridge on the LVRT is almost complete. Hale mentioned that he has seen many dogs unleashed on the trail and pointed out that it is very important that people have their dogs on leashes. They are passing by homes that may have other dogs, and having dogs leashed is considerate of other trail users.