by Gazette Staff
GREENSBORO – At its October 11 regular meeting, the Greensboro Select Board discussed drainage issues, road repairs, and studies to reduce speeding in town.
In a discussion of drainage issues on Wilson Street, residents Elsa Shultz and Chad Sims spoke about stormwater runoff that inundated their property on East Street this past summer, causing catastrophic damage. They expressed frustration that after many years of knowing about drainage problems behind Wilson Street, the town has failed to address the issue. Schulz asked the town to make solving this problem a high priority. Sims added that stormwater also runs down East Street due to storm drains in poor repair near Willey’s, and that these should be fixed immediately.
Board Chair Peter Romans said that the town has discussed the stormwater issue a number of times in recent years but, for various reasons, no improvements were made. He said that this summer, the select board and town staff have been in constant triage mode since the July flooding and there hasn’t been time to deal with much else. Romans noted that select board members are volunteers and can only do so much, but agreed that a solution should be found for this long-time problem.
Sims said he is concerned that the property will be flooded again before the town addresses the issue. He said that he has done some research, and it appears that stormwater used to flow towards the Grange side of the street, but years ago the town rerouted flows to the opposite side of the road, against the recommendation of an engineer. He questioned why this change was made in the first place. Romans said he had no knowledge of this history and added that the state must approve any project that impacts wetlands.
James Bandler thanked the board members for their public service, and said he was speaking on behalf of the owners of Highland Lodge. Workforce housing is the biggest challenge faced by their business, he said. The flooding of Schutlz’s and Sims’ property has made it difficult for them to do their jobs at the lodge. Bandler said that the whole situation is due to neglect on the part of the town and asked the board to prioritize this issue.
Romans suggested a committee or small group be formed to move forward. Town Treasurer Brett Stanciu said she would contact state officials and get a site visit scheduled.
Board member Gary Circosta said that approximately $500,000 has been spent on repairs and upgrades to flood damaged roads so far. Projects covered by FEMA funds must be completed within 18 months of the flood event, meaning that work can continue next spring and summer on projects that aren’t finished this fall. Repair work on the “federal highway corridor” (Bend Road, East Street, Craftsbury Road, Breezy Avenue) is on a tighter schedule and must be wrapped up this fall.
Terry O’Connor of TSI Contractors in Greensboro Bend asked how the town prioritized repairs to flood damaged roads, and asked why work on Gonyaw Road has not been completed yet. Romans replied that the extensive damage to roads townwide has left an enormous amount of work to be done by a limited number of available contractors. He noted that there are also challenges arising from the required bidding processes. He said that there are partially repaired roads all over town, and he is hoping many of these will be further improved before winter.
Romans invited O’Connor to bid on the remaining work on Gonyaw Road. O’Connor expressed frustration at the lack of clarity he felt regarding the bidding process, and with the way the town went about repairs to flood-damaged roads. After further discussion, the board voted to close debate on this issue.
The Orleans County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) report noted recent complaints about speeding on Route 14 from residents near Eligo Lake. OCSD could do a speed study at that location if desired by the town. Romans said that a speed study is also needed in Greensboro Bend, since residents there have requested that the town lower the speed limit on Main Street. The OCSD should have time this fall to undertake speed studies in both areas.