A special election was warned for Tuesday, August 28. Board members called for the special election to fill the remaining two-and-a-half years of Sherm Jenne’s term. Jenne resigned for personal reasons in June.
Voters will also select a new member of the board of listers, after Lori O’Hern stepped down to take a position as administrative assistant at Dover School.
O’Hern also resigned as a member of the Dover School Board, and voters will also select her replacement on that board. School board members appointed Scott Wilson to fill the position in June but, by law, Wilson’s appointment runs until the next election – so he’ll have to run in the August 28 election to retain the position.
Economic development assistant Linda Anelli presented the board with a proposal to have a section of Route 100 designated a Vermont Scenic Byway. Anelli explained that the effort would involve all or most of the towns along the southern section of the highway: Stamford, Readsboro, Whitingham, Wilmington, Dover, Wardsboro, and Jamaica. Anelli said that other portions of Route 100 are already designated under the program, and there was a “big push” to get the southern end included. She said the state preferred applications that included long stretches of highway, supported by several towns, rather than a piecemeal approach.
“Someone has to start the ball rolling,” Anelli said. “Since Dover is so forward-looking, I volunteered to be the guinea pig to see if I could get you to sign a letter of support that would go to the Windham Regional Commission.”
Anelli said there are no “negatives” to the designation for the town or residents. “There has been a perception in some towns that people lose their property rights, that it will trump local zoning, but that’s not true.”
But there could be great rewards for local towns. “It potentially opens up large and multi pots of gold on a state level. Grants for more sidewalks, signage, virtually anything a town would like to do.”
Anelli handed board members a Vermont Scenic Byways brochure that is distributed to information centers and chamber offices around the state. “It also gives you national attention,” she said. “This brochure is put out annually at a minimum. I would have brought more, but the chamber says they’re always running out of them. People really are interested in scenic routes.”
Board member William “Buzzy” Buswell recalled that the scenic byway designation had been discussed several years ago. “Somewhere, it fell apart,” he said. “So, say Stamford doesn’t participate, or another town, would it be a dead issue?”
Anelli said the answer was “maybe.” If the towns at either end of the proposed section declined to participate, or one town in the middle of the route declined to participate, Anelli said the state would probably move forward with the application. “The state would much prefer that more towns are involved in a stretch of Route 100, and the more there are, the more the state will be willing to say ‘Yes.’ We feel that, if we can get from at least Readsboro through Jamaica, we’ll get the state’s attention. Do we need to get every town? No.”
Board member Randy Terk asked if the designation would give the town more influence in getting permission for the placement of sidewalks and other work in the state right of way along Route 100. “If we participate, and we can get grants for sidewalks, that’s great. Does it make the state more amenable if we do want sidewalks? Anelli said the she understood the state was supportive of sidewalks and lighting in the state right of way.
Buswell offered a motion in support of signing a letter of support of the project, seconded by board member Vicki Capitani. The motion passed unanimously.
Local cable television and Internet provider Cliff Duncan updated the board on an upgrade in Internet service along the Route 100 business corridor. In May, board members agreed to provide up to $60,000 in funding for the upgrade, which would provide a substantially higher base capacity and data speed. Tuesday evening, Duncan told board members it was likely that the project would cost substantially less than earlier estimates. “We’ve been able to negotiate an even better price on bandwidth,” Duncan said. “FairPoint came to the table, sharpened their pencil, and brought Sovernet back to the table with an even sharper pencil.”
Duncan said the upgraded service should be available sometime in the late fall. “Today Sovernet said they are confident their circuit will be up and tested by Thanksgiving,” Duncan said. “Our game plan is to have the equipment in place before that. Quite honestly, there’s a good likelihood that it will be ready before (Thanksgiving).”
Duncan also said he was working with Dover Economic Development Specialist Ken Black and the state to identify areas in Dover that are unserved or underserved. He said the current maps are not completely accurate. “The real difficulty is that our footprint is anywhere we have coaxial cable,” he said. “It’s not the same with DSL; because their cable isn’t shielded, it’s only available 17,000 feet from their closest access point. So it’s difficult to get FairPoint to list where they really are.”
Duncan said he wants to know where the unserved and underserved areas are so he’ll know where to concentrate his efforts.
In other matters, the board approved an economic development business plan presented at an earlier meeting. In consultation with Buswell, who had objected to the budgeting format used by Black in the original plan, some of the anticipated revenue and cost figures had been adjusted. Black said the only significant change was the addition of about $40,000 for a marketing effort to attract visitors for events. “Why are we just waiting for people to show up to events?” he said. “Why not aggressively go after business?”
The board also appointed a new police officer, Sarah Daniels. Daniels, a Dover resident, has been active in local affairs and, until she announced her resignation last night, was a member of the Dover Development Review Board.
“We’ve already had some difficulty in fielding a quorum, and if I’m going to be gone 17 weeks (at the police academy) I’m going to resign,” Daniels said, to Buswell’s protests. “When things settle down and I’m not making a massively huge career change, I would entertain going back.”
“You’ve been a great asset to the town, and I look forward to you serving as a police officer,” said Buswell.
Board members also approved a bid for fuel oil at $3.16. “That’s 28 cents less than last year,” noted town administrator Nona Monis.