A move in the making?
by Jack Deming
Apr 04, 2013 | 2156 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WILMINGTON- The select­board worked through a packed agenda Wednesday evening, hearing public opinion on the possible co-relocation of the fire and police departments, and approving the purchase of a highway tractor for roadside mowing.

The selectboard held a special public hearing for residents to give input on the possibility of relocating the town’s fire and police departments into one building, or separately. The hearing was required before town manager Scott Murphy could turn in an application for a Vermont Community Development Program planning grant that would allow the town to go ahead with a feasibility analysis for relocation. The town is hoping to get a $62,727 grant, $5,455 in administrative funds, and use a 10% town match to reach the project cost of $75,000.

According to the grant application, flooding from Tropical Storm Irene caused $151,000 in damage to the police department, along with $178,000 in damage to equipment. The fire department suffered $210,000 in equipment loss and $40,000 in damages. According to the grant application draft, the purpose of the feasibility study is to evaluate co-relocation of the police and fire departments into a single emergency services building. “The planned result will be to identify a preferred plan, confirm it is feasible, and prepare sufficient design and cost information to fund the project through issuance of a public bond,” states the application.

The application also says the study’s goal is to find six possible locations away from the town’s flood zone. Since 1960, both departments’ buildings have been flooded multiple times. “As you all know, Irene put us in trouble immediately, when both were out of service within hours of each other,” said Murphy. “I believe it will be looked upon favorably by the board.”

Fire chief Ken March said that Irene’s wake left the town in a vulnerable position. “We (the fire department) were knocked out of service during Irene. We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is a critical service to the taxpayers of the town.”

The selectboard voted to purchase a new piece of equipment for the road crew, a tractor for roadside mowing that, according to Highway Department road supervisor Bill Hunt, can do the work of four to six men. The tractor will be purchased using FEMA funding. Selectboard vice chair Jim Burke saw the machine in action, and says it will save the town time and money.

Hunt says the tractor will allow the town to cut back branches encroaching on town roads, and hit “trouble spots” at intersections where drivers’ views are obstructed. “When we cut back tree limbs and branches it might look rough for a little while,” said Hunt. “But you only have to do it once so if you can grin and bear with it, in two to three years you’ll see improvement.”

Following the establishment of Wilmington Works, and approval of the town’s downtown designation, the selectboard was required to elect two members of the selectboard as members of the Wilmington Works board. Susan Haughwout and Diane Chapman both volunteered, and with a motion from Burke seconded by Jacob White, they were so voted as the selectboard’s representatives to Wilmington Works.

Engineer Wayne Elliot and wastewater treatment plant chief operator John Lazelle were on hand to give the board a review of a comprehensive facilities evaluation required by the state. Elliot explained to the board that while the plant has not had an evaluation since 1987 (they’re required approximately every 20-25 years) the plant is run extremely well, along with the maintenance of the sewer collection systems. Elliot also said there were no compliance violations or concerns.

The selectboard voted to set up a fee schedule for individuals, groups or events using Memorial Hall. Murphy told the board that currently the building does not charge a fee, but should consider it to offset the cost of the building’s electricity and heat. Haughwout said the building should still be free for the taxpayers and residents of the town, but groups charging an admission fee should face a rental fee that will allow them to adjust ticket prices accordingly.

The selectboard also discussed charitable groups that do not charge an admission fee but ask for donations, and that they should be able to use it for free. The board approved a $100 fee for for-profit events that charge admission fees, as well as non-town-resident uses such as weddings from out of town.
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