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Select Board Moves Closer o Pedestrian Bridge Solution

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by Gazette Staff

HARDWICK – At its February 16 meeting, the Hardwick Select Board discussed the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT), buying a property on Wolcott Road, and signing a contract with the engineering firm overseeing reconstruction of the pedestrian bridge in Hardwick village.

The town manager’s report was the presentation. Town Manager David Upson reported that the East Hardwick Fire District will soon have a link on the Town of Hardwick’s web page.

He reported that an RFP will be advertised for the repairs on the Memorial Building roof, the cost of the repairs will be covered by a Historic Preservation Grant. Also, VTrans is in the process of providing towns along the LVRT with wayfinding signage. Jackie Cassino from VTRANS is asking the town for permission. Lastly, Upson reported on the Business Opportunity Conference. This conference is for local businesses or prospective businesses interested in coming into the Hardwick area. See the link at hardwickvt.gov for further information or to register for the event.

At the end of the presentation, the board voted unanimously to allow VTRANS to put up signage in the Town of Hardwick’s right of way for Rail Trail users.

Police Chief Mike Henry gave the Hardwick Police Department (HPD) report. Henry reported that the HPD has been doing snowmobile patrols. There is a contract between HPD and VAST stating that HPD can patrol the Hardwick trail system, as well as surrounding areas. Since VAST paid for the snowmobiles and is paying for the officers’ wages and the maintenance of the machines, Henry wanted to clarify that the patrol of the trails is not taking away from regular HPD patrolling. There are additional officers coming in specifically to patrol the trails. Additionally, Henry wanted to remind everyone that the trail needs to be shared.

Henry also reported that Jim Sullivan from VTRANS did a speed study on Route 14 near the UPS store. The speed limit in that area is 25 mph, and the report showed that over 80% of travelers were traveling over the posted speed limit. Sullivan is going to work with HPD to find a solution for that area. Henry also reported that, in the past 30 days, the peak time for criminal offenses was around 3 p.m. The fewest calls were received on Fridays. The top arrests in the past 30 days include active state warrants, suspended licenses, DUIs, violation of conditions, and arrests on drugs.

Next, the board discussed replacing the temporary Hardwick LVRT Working Group with a more formal Hardwick LVRT Committee. The Hardwick LVRT Trailhead Working Group was originally formed in August 2022. At the time, an application was being prepared to the VTrans LVRT Community Grant Program for construction of two LVRT trail heads in the Town of Hardwick. The working group would like to be a formal Hardwick LVRT Committee. Board members were concerned about another committee being formed in town and being able to staff that
committee. Board member Shari Cornish pointed out that the volunteers of the working group would be on the committee. Board chair Eric Remick asked what would happen to the committee once the work was completed. Cornish said that the select board would decide at that time. At the end of the discussion, the board voted to approve to change the Hardwick LVRT Working Group into the Hardwick LVRT Committee. It will be under the umbrella of the Hardwick Recreation Department.

The next agenda item was a buyout application under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to purchase the property located at 166 Wolcott Street. Upson reported that this property is in the flood zone and has been for sale for many years. There have been a lot of potential buyers. However, with the amount of permitting and the process to repair this property, no one bought the property. In discussion, it was brought up that the town could apply for a FEMA grant. If approved, FEMA would provide the town with funds to purchase and tear down the building. The total asking price for the property is $78,130. However, the total for the project, which includes the purchase and tear down, would be $120,380. FEMA would give the Town $108,342, and the local share would be $12,038. Board member Elizabeth Dow asked what the town would do with that property. Upson mentioned that it could be used as
additional parking because it would not be permissible to build another structure there.

The board approved moving forward with the FEMA grant application, on condition that the space could be approved for parking, and that the seller gives the town the $12,038.

Next, the town manager mentioned that there is a proposed change to the project value threshold. The zoning office would like to increase the project value amount but keep the same fee. The board approved the new project value threshold amount.

The board also authorized the select board chair to sign the contract between the Town of Hardwick and the SE Group for the pedestrian bridge. Board member Cornish mentioned that the contract should be ready for signature next week.

The board also voted to authorize the town manager to sign a letter of support for a Northern Forrest grant and to adopt a revised cemetery policy. Upon motion by Elizabeth Dow, seconded by Danny Hale, the Select Board voted to authorize the town manager to sign the letter of support for the Northern Forest grant.

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