Town Receives Grant, Roads in Good Condition

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by Gazette Staff

HARDWICK – At the April 6 regular meeting, the Hardwick Select Board discussed fixing the fire station roof, challenges with the disposal of wastewater sludge, and receipt of a grant from the Agency of Natural Resources.

In the town manager report, David Upson reported that the fire station roof needs to be replaced. The work will be put out to bid. After July 1, Upson wrote in his written manager’s report, the town will have “just over 50k to work with” in the building’s capital fund. Upson also noted that Hardwick was awarded a Better Connection Grant of approximately $68,000, with an option for another $30,000 for a clean water project through the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Upson also reported that “Due to the ongoing PFAS crisis, we are scrambling to find a location to dispose of our dewatered sludge from Lagoon No. 1” at the wastewater plant. One potential disposal site is far away and more costly, while another is not available until July, which is too late for the disposal project’s timeline. The hope is that the Englobe site in Quebec will re-open for composting in early summer.

In the road manager report, Tom Fadden reported that the condition of roads is pretty good at the moment, with only some potholes. There are some soft spots, he said, but overall the roads are holding up well. The crew graded West Hill and parts of Bunker Hill Road, fixed a section of Montgomery Road and worked on Bayley Hazen Road, Dimick Road, Mountain View Road, and Ward Hill. Next, they will move onto Hopkins Hill and Bridgman Hill. They have also been cleaning up intersections and aprons and planned to work on some of the larger debris in the village. The industrial sweeper will be coming in early to mid-May.

Police Chief Mike Henry gave the Hardwick Police Department (HPD) report. Henry reported that the West Hill repeater went down about a month ago, so the HPD has been without radio communication. The problem was traced to a bad station control module. The cost for a new repeater would have been $12,000 and the cost for repair $2,500-3,000. However, Burlington Communications was able to find a used control module and it is up and running for now.

Henry shared that the HPD is finished with the VAST snowmobile patrol for this year. He shared that HPD officers spent 171 hours on patrol, covered 774 miles, did 89 checkpoints, wrote nine tickets, and issued 42 warnings. VAST reimburses the town for all the hours. Henry also provided some call statistics for the first quarter of 2023. He mentioned that many of the cases are referred to the Restorative Justice program. He said he is working with Restorative Justice for some of the offenders to do community service work in Hardwick.

Henry noted that the Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) that HPD uses to interview victims are far away. Henry said he is working on making HPD a satellite CAC in the Senior Center side of the public safety building. There is the possibility of getting some revenue for the cases through the CAC. They will make a comfortable space (primarily for children) in one of the rooms, since victims cannot be taken through a police station. This will give them the ability to interview victims in Hardwick.

Finally, Henry said that HPD will continue to do bike patrols this year. He would like to find a grant to get e-bikes.

Next, the board voted to approve alcohol and tobacco licenses, and then voted unanimously to approve the three-year IBEW contract for the highway department.

Town Manager David Upson then reported that the town is working to finalize the purchase and sales agreement for the gravel pit. Upson and Road Manager Tom Fadden met with Ken Davis to talk about leasing back a specific section of the pit after the sale that has processed topsoil on it. There is a telecommunications easement option that will be outlined in the contract. The plan is to have the contract completed by the end of April.

Next, the board voted to appoint Elizabeth Dow and Rose Friedman to the committee working to make town meeting more accessible for the future. The committee will gather ideas for making town meeting better and how to gain more participation.

Board member Shari Cornish noted that the Hardwick Town House has a live feed that would make the meeting more inclusive for people who can’t attend but want to view it in real time.

Town Business Manager Casey Rowell provided an update on the budget through March 31, 2023, three-quarters of the way through the fiscal year. Revenues are about 2% over budget and expenses are about 5.5% over budget. The main factors for the overage are diesel and heating fuel, as well as property and worker’s compensation insurance.

The topic for discussion was the proposal from Lamoille Valley Ford to purchase town property for parking and EV chargers. Upson reported that he heard from Rick Welcome at Lamoille Valley Ford that they had some measurements taken and there may not be enough room at the location to complete the project. The topic was tabled for now.

After discussion, the board then voted to approve the water connection application for the Batchelder property on Lamoille Avenue.

The community development coordinator asked the board to approve an application for a Community Services Grant of $5,000 from the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District for two park-grade sets of trash and recycling receptacles. The receptacles would be placed at the two Hardwick Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) trailheads, one near the Depot in downtown Hardwick and the other at the intersection of Stevens Lane and the LVRT in East Hardwick Village. The board verbally approved the application. No formal motion was necessary.