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Select Board Continues Work on Flood Recovery

by Gazette Staff

HARDWICK – At its August 17 regular meeting, the Hardwick Select Board continued to work through flood recovery issues and discussed updates to the town’s hazard mitigation plan.

Town Manager David Upson reported that the stormwater system in the North Main Street parking lot had damage as result of the storm. The repair has been made. This was likely the contributing cause of the manhole cover popping off and the washout and damage to the parking lot.

The State of Vermont has put out bids for an outside contractor to inspect sewer lines and mains in the towns affected by the flood to make sure nothing is damaged. The state will roll out this program statewide for affected areas, including Hardwick.

Upson had a meeting with the USDA about the wastewater plant. There is a possibility that the state might enter a deal with USDA to redo the Hardwick, Ludlow, and Johnson wastewater plants damaged by the July flooding. He also met with the area director for FEMA. FEMA is interested in mitigation efforts as the plant has been flooded four different times.

Upson said that he put out a request for proposal (RFP) for a temporary bridge for the Fisher Folly bridge. Bids are due next Wednesday.

The Hardwick Area Neighbor-to-Neighbor group has coordinated trained volunteers to assist with FEMA, SBA, and USDA processes and will be hosting open hours over the next few weeks for residents to drop in and work through their questions. Volunteers with access to computers and printers will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. They will review other funding sources that may apply to residents’ situations and help determine the next steps needed.

Times for meetings with a volunteer at the Memorial Building/Town Offices (20 Church Street) in Hardwick are scheduled for September 2 and 9 from 10 a.m. to noon, and September 6, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Board member Danny Hale asked about river corridor cleanup. Upson indicated that the town is working with the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to get a plan in place for clean-up.

Road Foreman Tom Fadden reported that the road crew repaired an exposed sewer line on Cooper Brook Road, performed some spot grading, and patched some asphalt in the village. Fadden said that he ordered more culverts for Center Road, Moore Lane, Tucker Brook Road and possibly Dutton Road. Belfry Road is complete with new culverts and ditching and is ready to be paved. Center Road and West Hill also need paving work. He has reached out to a paving company about doing all three.

Next, the crew will focus on Tucker Brook Road, putting a new layer of gravel on Smith Farm Road, Bridgman Hill, Hunter Road, Renaud Road, a culvert crossing on Moore Lane, and a section of Cobb School Road.

Hardwick Police Chief Mike Henry reported that the cruiser damaged in the flood had to go back to the repair shop and may need new interior carpeting. The initial repairs were covered by insurance; Henry anticipates that the additional repairs will be covered, as well.

The police department did an “active shooter in school” training along with Lamoille County Sheriff’s Dept., Morrisville Police, and Vermont State Police. Henry anticipates that going forward there will more training like this in collaboration with other agencies.

The new radar signs still need to be put up. Fadden has ordered the posts for them, and they hope to get this done soon. One will go on South Main Street by the cemetery and the other across from Tops Market. The portable signs are currently on Hardwick Street and Spring Street.

Another project in the works is to put up new speed limit signs throughout the town. The new signs have arrived but are a secondary priority to flood response. The new signs should be installed soon.

Town Manager David Upson mentioned that one of the officers is seeing an uptick in fraudulent check cashing cases. The police are urging businesses to ask for identification when they take checks.

The board voted to approve request for the Hardwick Area Food Pantry to be added to the coin drop in October 2024.

The board then reviewed updated hazards and mitigation actions for the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. Paul Luciano is a consultant who was hired by the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) to assist with updating the plan. Luciano went over mitigation actions for hazards such as floods, extreme temperatures, winter storms, and infectious diseases. The purpose of the plan is to identify specific hazards that impact the town, prioritize hazards for mitigation planning, recommend town-level goals and strategies to reduce losses from those hazards, and establish a coordinated process to implement goals and their associated strategies by taking advantage of available resources and creating achievable action steps. He mentioned that FEMA wants only natural hazards in the plan.

Proposed actions include: reduce vulnerability to flooding by evaluating capabilities of existing road and storm water management infrastructure, public education and through municipal services and regulations; improve resilience to severe winter storms; reduce impact of extreme hot and cold temperature durations; raise public awareness of hazards and hazard mitigation actions; reduce risk and impact of major infectious disease events; residents can contact the town manager’s office for a copy of the proposed plan.

After discussion, the board voted to approve interim zoning bylaws due to the flooding, contingent on attorney approval of the document. The board also voted to approve waiving zoning permit fees and recording fees for floodplain properties for the next 180 days and retroactive to the flooding event and voted to support Jasper Hill Farm’s grant application for its Food Venture Center location.

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