Bottom line for recovery looking better, board looks at airport issues
by Mike Eldred
Oct 18, 2012 | 2860 views | 5 5 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Town-owned land near Mount Snow Airport
Town-owned land near Mount Snow Airport
WILMINGTON- There was good news for Wilmington residents at Wednesday evening’s selectboard meeting.

Board members learned that the town’s financial situation may not be as bad as had been reported at their last meeting. At that meeting, finance director Christine Richter and town manager Scott Murphy told board members the town could be as much as $200,000 short in recovery funds thanks to a number of circumstances, including the unexpected and unbudgeted repair of the Beaver Brook Bridge at the foot of Castle Hill.

This week, Murphy told board members that almost $500,000 in FEMA revenue hadn’t been taken into account in the initial assessment.

The latest figures show the town has received $728,845 in donations, insurance, and FEMA reimbursement. Another $107,971 in insurance payments is expected. After paying off $553,575 in emergency borrowing, the town would still have $283,241 left for “outstanding payables” totaling $190,558, leaving the town about $92,684 in unexpended recovery funds. However, a significant portion of the “outstanding payables,” $93,172, is for engineering expenses associated with the Haynes Road Bridge project. Murphy said the town is still pursuing reimbursement for the engineering costs. If they’re successful, the town could have more than $185,000 in recovery funds left.

Additionally, despite Tropical Storm Irene, the town ended fiscal year 2012 (ended on June 30, 2012) with a general fund surplus of $11,313, and a highway department surplus of $131,662.

“We’re in a much better position than we thought last time,” Murphy told board members, “and we hope to be a little bit ahead at the end of all this. But this is a moving target – these figures are accurate, but things could change.”

“I’m feeling a lot better than last time,” quipped board member Jim Burke.

According to the figures, the overall spending on Irene-related work in Wilmington is $2,626,389. The figure includes FEMA expenditures of $1,412,283, insurance expenditures were $1,130,952, and federal highway expenditures of $83,154.

Meg Streeter asked Murphy and Richter for a more complete and itemized look at expenses and revenue. “I feel like this is still confusing. I’d like to know what we’ve expended as our share, I’d like to know what the donations were, what we’ve gotten from FEMA, and what the insurance has paid.”

In other matters, the board discussed town-owned Haystack lots in the vicinity of Mount Snow Airport. At a previous meeting, Hermitage Inn and Hermitage Club owner Jim Barnes presented a proposal to expand the airport to accommodate small jet traffic. Barnes requested a donation or sale of the town-owned lots, as well as a loan for the expansion. Board members told Barnes they’d take the matter up at a subsequent meeting.

Barnes made a similar presentation and loan request of the Dover Selectboard.

Over the past several years, the town has collected scores of undeveloped lots at tax sale. The lots were created decades ago under Haystack’s master plan and Act 250. Some of the lots had belonged to individuals, many of whom stopped paying their tax bills over the years as it became apparent that development was dormant. Many of the lots taken at tax sale belonged to the developer, the now-defunct Stratfield Associates.

The airport runway extends into Wilmington, and is surrounded by a number of Haystack lots, as well as lots intended for common use by the hypothetical Haystack village residents.

Wednesday evening, town attorney Bob Fisher gave board members a color-coded map of the tiny 0.2-acre lots, indicating those that are town-owned, and those that are privately owned.

But Fisher told board members that some questions still remained. In particular, he noted, there was 800 feet of runway in Wilmington that he can’t determine is deeded to Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines, the airport’s current owner, despite the fact that the piece appears on maps as far back as the 1970s. “There’s some reference to a portion of the runway that covers land that was then Haystack Corporation,” he said. “But it’s difficult to know if they’re talking about that 800 feet. If it belongs to Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines, they have the distance they need to upgrade the runway.” Fisher said the common land was another work in progress.

“That’s the ownership (issues),” Fisher said. “As far as what to do with it, that’s why they pay you the big bucks.” Selectboard chair Tom Consolino suggested the board get more information on Fisher’s questions before making a decision as to how to proceed.

“What land is Jim Barnes asking the town to donate?” asked Burke, looking at the map.

“We don’t know that,” said Consolino. In the past, the board has discussed creating a policy and plan regarding town-owned properties, and Haystack properties in particular, however, no policy is currently in place. But Streeter indicated she would take action on the matter in the absence of a written policy.

“We like to get (town-owned land) back on the tax rolls,” Streeter said. “The board has talked about a policy, but in the interim, I’m not going to suggest we wait another couple of years for (a policy).”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
uncle fudd
October 23, 2012
e92v8luvr, spoken like a true flatlander, your no more than a sleazy out of state carperbagger business owner always begging for more, more, more. enough is never enough

and now telling me, a native Vter to move because I don't agree with your viewpoint

I'm sure you'll get your way with your new airport and all the noise, expences and headaches that go with it

no one deserves it more then you do!!!!!!
M Gilberg
October 18, 2012
I think the word is Chutzpah which best describes Jim Barnes' request that the Town of Wilington (and Dover) "loan" him money to build hangers and other facilities at the Mount Snow Airport which he has either purchased or is the process of purchasing, and to donate adjacent lands to him to enable him to expand the airport. (That means noisy jets folks that come and go, without restriction, at all hours. Having been exposed to that, I'd suggest against the Towns assisting in the expansion of the Airport and let Barnes and his jet setters land at Bennington and limo it to their exclusive digs at Haystack, while leaving us all our peace, quiet and solitude.

Wilmington jumped to give the last prodigal owner/developer of Haystack the world only to find his promises hollow. Wouldn't it be more prudent for our Selectboard to go slowly, cautiously and see if Jim Barnes delivers before we embrace him.
Carl Swanson
October 19, 2012
Why does everyone seem so bitter towards people with $$? Sorry to say but the future for this area is catering to those who have,this fact was set in stone decades ago, so why not operate a first class catering operation. As for the air traffic, the notion that "noisy jets" will "come and go, w/o restriction, at all hours" is laughable. For one, modern jet engines are far more quiet that propeller driven planes and take far less time to come and go. Secondly I'd be surprised if there were 5 or 6 planes weekly wanting to land and take off here. We should be so lucky as to have planes full of people lined up in the sky waiting to land and spend their money here.
M Gilberg
October 19, 2012

Obviously you've never lived in the pathway of even a general aviation airport which handles small private jets or you'd know the falicy of your argument. They're noisy, even the newest ones. But Mr. Barnes, from his statements as reported in this paper, is looking forsmall commercial jets (50 -) perople to come in to fill his hotel and timeshares. Similarly, you don't spend $1M plus to expand an airport for 4-5 planes a week. And if you have the failities the FAA won't let you restrict the hours for take offs and landings other than on a voluntary basis.

Just the other night some copters engines rocked the valley for a good 20 minutes.

And so things are straigh, I'm not against the creation of 200 jobs, rather I'm pointing out that our Selectboard should act with restraint before we give away the store at bargin basement prices. Besides Barnes has enough money that he shouldn't ask for Wilmington and Dover's charity and they shouldn't even consider it.

Carl Swanson
October 22, 2012
Why should'nt Barnes ask for a contribution? Both towns have quite a bit to gain from increasing the number of tourists coming to this valley. Also, both towns have allready elected to further tax residents and non residents alike with the one percent option that can be applied in situations like this. In my eyes, an investment in the local airport is an investment in out future.

Mount Snow airport was around way before many of the neighboring homes and condos were built. Please don't build your home or anything for that matter near an airport and then complain about noise.

Sure I heard the choppers the other night, like most air traffic coming here, they flew right over my home. They make no more noise than people roaring up and down my road to their condos, now that the road is paved. Oh well, time moves on.

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