William “Buzzy” Buswell, owner of a local transportation company, complained that something seems to be amiss with a recently resurfaced section of Route 100, beginning near the Matterhorn and running into Wardsboro. “As a taxpayer who paid (more than $26,000) in transportation taxes last year, I’m upset with the garbage the state has given us for Route 100,” he said.
Buswell said rainwater collects in the areas of the road that vehicle tires contact, and that he hydroplaned on the road during one of the recent rainstorms.
“I agree completely,” said board member Tom Baltrus, who is a MOOver driver. “It collects more water than it did before. If it rains, you see two rivers. (The resurfacing) doesn’t seem to have made much difference, but there are no cracks.”
Buswell said he thought the initial surfacing had been a base coat, and was waiting for contractors to finish with a top coat. But this week, the state painted lines on the new asphalt. Dover resident Eddie Barber said he was under the impression that the new surface was an “experimental” product intended to “give and take and not crack as much.”
At the suggestion of several residents, the board agreed to contact the state highway department asking them to address the concerns. “In the winter, that’s all going to be ice in the roadway,” said treasurer Patty Westlake.
Barber urged the board to send a certified letter. “I travel that road eight times back and forth during the week,” he said. “There’s something radically wrong with that road where the rain collects in the tire tracks.”
Board member Vicki Capitani questioned whether the town had been successful in pursuing highway concerns in the past. “We could elect Phil,” said selectboard chair Randy Terk, referring to former Dover Road Commissioner and state representative Phil Bartlett. “That’s how we got it paved before.”
In economic development discussions, Dover’s “DO-IT” (Dover Opportunity for Investment in the Town) program, which provides partial funding to help spruce up roadside commercial areas, has proven so popular that this year’s funding ran out less than 24 hours after the application period opened. Year-round “brick-and-mortar” businesses in Dover are eligible for one grant per year, and must complete the work before the end of the year. The grant, which is for between $500 and $2,500, must be used for materials or labor connected to a project to improve exterior aesthetics.
At their last meeting, economic development specialist Ken Black told board members that all of the $25,000 in funding for the current fiscal year was spoken for in a matter of hours. “The application window opened at midnight, July 1, and by 9:24 am, the program was out of funding,” Black said.
This week Black suggested adding another $15,000 funding for three additional applications that came in after the funding ran out on the first day of the fiscal year, as well as others that may come in during the year.
Board members said they were pleased with the popularity of the program, but appeared hesitant to commit additional funding from the current fiscal year. Terk asked what kind of projects have been submitted. “Everything from paving parking areas to repairing the fronts of buildings, power-washing and sanding decks, replacing siding and clapboards,” Black said.
Board members suggested transferring $7,600 in unused funds from the, apparently, less popular “DASP” (Dover Advertising Support Program) to cover the unmet need in the DO-IT program.
Buswell, who owns a home-based business ineligible for the program, objected to an expansion of the program. “I don’t think you should expand it because we don’t know the full outcome of how the program will work,” he said. “Did everyone do what they said they would do? Increase it next year, if everything is kosher. My stand is that a lot of businesses in Dover were discriminated against because they’re not brick-and-mortar businesses. I don’t think that makes a lot of business sense.”
Terk agreed that, at the end of this year’s program, the project should be evaluated for its effectiveness. “In the meantime, this is its first year in existence, and we have a recommendation that we should increase it,” he said. “I don’t want to take money away from programs we have, but I’m willing to take money away from one that hasn’t been successful.”
The board voted to transfer the money. Black noted that it would cover the unmet need for the three applications he has, with about $450 left over for a future applicant.
In other economic development matters, the board received a letter from economic development assistant Linda Anelli, who said she would be resigning, effective October 1. “Linda has been a big asset to the department, and I thank her for her service,” said Black.
“Speaking for the board, we appreciate all of the efforts and contributions she has made to economic development,” said Terk. “And, I would add, for everything else she has done in the valley.”
Capitani moved to accept Anelli’s resignation “with extreme regret.”
In other matters, board members approved Guy Nido’s heating oil bid at $3.38, which was about four cents less than the only other bidder. Last year’s bid price was $3.16.