by Gazette Staff
HARDWICK – At its April 20 regular meeting, the Hardwick Select Board discussed Rail Trail infrastructure, plans to dispose of treatment plant sludge, and a proposed electricity rate increase.
The town manager report, given by David Upson, updated the board about several items. VHB, an engineering and technology company with two locations in Vermont, will be working on a feasibility and scoping study for Northeast Kingdom towns along the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). The study will identify suitable locations for LVRT trailheads. Upson also reported that the town is eligible for a $105,000 loan from the State of Vermont, with $102,000 forgiveness, for a lead and copper inventory project. Finally, Upson reported that the preliminary lab results on the wastewater treatment plant sludge were received and forwarded to two landfill operators. If the lab results meet the landfill requirements, the town will work toward an agreement for sludge disposal. Also, dewatering of Lagoon No. 1 is scheduled to start in mid-May and continue through early June.
Town Manager Upson also presented the road foreman report. All the dirt roads in town have been graded recently, and town-owned lawns, including some of the cemeteries, have been cleaned up. The road crew has also done street sweeping and fixed various mud spots.
The Hardwick Police Department (HPD) report was given by Police Chief Mike Henry. Henry reported that the radio repeater is down again. HPD has been working with Burlington Communications to resolve this issue. HPD has borrowed another repeater and will use it for a few months to see what the
issue might be. A new repeater costs $19,000. Henry has also been working with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns on the traffic ordinance.
The Hardwick Electric Department (HED) was given by HED Commissioner Vince O’Connell, who reported that HED is still working with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) on the potential rate increase. A decision will be made soon. He also reported that the Wolcott Hydro is 61% over budget and producing about 13% of HED’s energy. HED is currently 1% over budget in both revenue and expenses. O’Connell also reported that an EV charging station will be installed at the HED main office on North Main Street within the next six weeks.
The board then voted to approve pending alcohol and tobacco licenses, and approved the Hardwick Energy Committee Policy.
The next topic was a discussion about using some of the town’s fund balance to reduce the amount of the gravel pit bond. The business manager presented two scenarios: under the first, the town would borrow $400,000 towards the purchase price of the pit, and under the second the town would borrow the full amount, which is $500,000. The difference between the two scenarios is roughly $40,000 in interest over 20 years. After an initial discussion, the board decided to review the issue further at its next meeting.
The board also reviewed the planning commission recommendations for the LVRT Loop trail. The planning commission provided recommendations to connect the LVRT connector loop. The board decided to move forward with the commission’s recommendations once paving on North Main Street is complete.
Under select board reports, board chair Eric Remick reported that the Yellow Barn accelerator project is moving forward, and contractors will be able to break ground once a pending contract closes on May 4.
Board Vice-chair Ceilidh Galloway-Kane reported that the Peace and Justice center will have a panel discussion on May 16 at the Memorial Building. The topic is about Juneteenth. There will be dinner starting at 5:30 p.m., with discussion to follow. The public is welcome to attend.
Galloway-Kane also reported that the conservation commission will be holding a kickoff meeting on May 17 at the Memorial Building and the public is welcome to come.
Board member Elizabeth Dow reported that on May 15 the Hardwick Historical Society (HHS) will be holding its annual meeting at 7 p.m. at the Hardwick Town House. After a short business meeting, the HHS will present “Of Wheelmen, The New Woman, and Good Roads bicycling in Vermont 1880-1920.” For more information visit hardwickvthistory.org/.