News, Wolcott

Board Discusses Next Steps for Road Reclassification

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by Gazette Staff

WOLCOTT – At its March 1 meeting, the Wolcott Select Board addressed the town website, Rail Trail signage, and efforts to change the classification of North Wolcott Road.

Laura Williams, on behalf of Division On Addiction, emailed the town clerk to request that a link to their organization appear on the town’s website. The organization helps locate local rehabilitation centers. Following discussion, the board agreed the organization’s link can be added to the Resources tab on the website.

The Forest Committee’s request for payment of $250 for a logo they had made for letterhead and eventually signage was accepted. Until the committee’s budget goes into effect July 1, the committee has been asked to notify the select board if they wish to spend any money.

The next agenda item was the North Wolcott Road classification. Craftsbury Select board co-chairs Bruce Urie and Jim Jones attended the meeting to join in the discussion on the classification of North Wolcott Road in Wolcott, and Wild Branch Road in Craftsbury. The consensus was that the cost of road maintenance to the towns is extreme, and that it is not fair for the towns to be responsible for maintenance given the heavy tractor trailer traffic between Vt. Rte 14 and Vt. Rte 15, which are state highways. In addition to road maintenance costs, there are safety issues.

The initial correspondence between Wolcott’s state legislators and VTrans indicated that the agency does not currently have a budget that would allow for reclassifying the road. Routes 15A and 15C were town roads before being taken over by the state. The Wolcott Select Board is interested in cooperating with Craftsbury and to keep the issue of reclassification before VTrans. The Wolcott board has brought up the possibility of an ordinance that would close North Wolcott Road to heavy tractor trailer trucks. Urie stated that a VTrans representative will be meeting with the Craftsbury Select Board in April to discuss preserving the road. Urie and Jones indicated they can address the reclassification of the Wild Branch Road with VTrans. The Wolcott board has arranged for Lamoille County Planning Commission
(LCPC) to conduct a road study on North Wolcott Road this spring. The study will provide statistics on the amount of vehicle traffic, specifically tractor trailers. Urie and Jones will discuss conducting a similar study of the Wild Branch Road this spring with their board. The Craftsbury board can also discuss the issue with their legislators. Legislators could introduce a bill that would go to the General Assembly. The two boards will stay in touch regarding traffic studies.

In the Project Manager Report, vice chair Kurt Klein stated that a request for bids for the mowing of town properties has been placed in the News & Citizen. Klein is working with UniFirst to schedule pickup of uniforms for the road crew. The road foreman is seeking guardrail quotes. Bids will be sought for North Wolcott Road patch paving. Repairs have been needed for one of the plow trucks. As a result, plowing has not been as efficient as it could be. Viking has been the only vendor to supply truck parts. Plow blades through Viking cost about double compared to last year. The road foreman is seeking an alternate supplier in New Hampshire.

The owner of the property located at 74 School Street had applied for property tax relief through the state despite the fact that he lives in California. Following the town’s protest, the request was denied. The understanding is that the property will now default to the tax sale purchaser. Klein is in communication with an individual who can refresh the physical layout of the screens on the town’s website and improve the overall user experience.

Bradley Horstman, of Simmons Road, was interviewed as an alternate delegate to the board by Lamoille FiberNet Communications Union District (CUD). The board voted to accept Horstman as an alternate delegate for Wolcott.

Next, Jackie Cassino, Rail Trails program manager from the Vermont Agency of Transportation, requested input from the board on signage for the Rail Trail. Cassino proposed VTrans install a vertical directional sign on School Street that would direct folks to the trailhead. If installed, the town would need to agree to maintain the sign. After reviewing a map and sign summary sheets provided by Cassino, the board agreed to installation of the sign. The state will not pay for a sign directing snowmobiles to park by the ballfield, because that would be seasonal.

A bid was received from Safety Home Address for green, reflective 911 signs. For 950 signs, the cost would be $15,510. Safety Home Address would not issue a quote for posts, stating that posts are too difficult to obtain. The quote from Work Safe for 911 signs is $14,078. Work Safe indicates they can provide posts. The board voted to accept the bid from Work Safe for signs and posts for $29,173.69, using ARPA funds.

Joe Houston, facilities director for Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union (OSSU), contacted the board to request financial support for the purchase of a standby power generator at Wolcott Elementary School. OSSU will be using Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to install generators at schools that do not have one, including Wolcott. It is estimated that a generator for the site would be in the range of $60,000 to $90,000. Having a generator would keep computers powered for communication and keep the ventilation system running. The school could be used as an emergency shelter or meeting place in the event of a wide-spread power outage. The school would provide more space than the town office. The request to the town is for $10,000 or $15,000 in ARPA funds. Otherwise, the funds will come from the school’s budget. Craftsbury approved $15,000. Hardwick also contributed. The board voted to allocate $15,000 of ARPA funds to OSSU.

There will be a request for bids for brush hogging the North Wolcott ballfields and the transfer station.

The request to the town for permission to conduct a coin drop on Vt. Rte 15 for Justice for Dogs was withdrawn. The insurance requirement imposed by the state was cost prohibitive. Justice for Dogs is hoping to raise funds to help establish an alternative to the facility that has been used throughout the county as a pound. That facility will soon be closing.

he town had taken out a $400,000 loan to pay the upfront cost of the Brook Road box culvert project. The loan amount, with interest, is now $402,164.32. The treasurer recently received $373,221.30 as a partial reimbursement for expenses from FEMA. The treasurer stated that additional funds have been received from FEMA that, together, would cover the loan amount. The town can pay the interest of $2,164.32 using money from the General Fund. That can go back to the General Fund once the town receives full payment on the Brook Road culvert. Paying off the loan now will save on additional interest charges.

Next, the board discussed costs associated with the replacement of the School Street bridge. Final construction costs, including moving utilities, will be covered 100% by the state. Costs that do not qualify for the program will be covered 80% by federal funds, 15% by state funds, with the town responsible for 5%. The bridge grant agreement is under select board review. Following discussion, board chair Linda Martin was given permission to sign the agreement.

The proposed town budget for 2023-2024 included over $11,000 for the shared cost of an assessor per an agreement with Hyde Park and Johnson. Since the board had voted to withdraw from the agreement with the other two towns, those funds are no longer needed. The board will amend the budget from the floor at town meeting, deleting this line item.

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