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Pedestrian Bridge Expected to be Replaced by End of 2024

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by Gazette Staff

HARDWICK – At its October 5 regular meeting, the Hardwick Select Board discussed the library expansion project, the state of downtown parking, issues with the Yellow Barn project, and the next steps in replacing the pedestrian bridge.

Jodi Lew-Smith, chair of the Jeudevine Memorial Library board of trustees, reported that the construction on the library expansion project will restart on October 16.

The library had to amend the design due to excessive groundwater, which did not allow the previous design to work. Instead of adding onto the side of the existing building, the library has decided to raise the existing building and build an addition on the bottom. The library is still working on getting the final numbers for the redesign, but the predicted cost is between $200,000 and $400,000. The library continues to talk to funders about helping with the additional costs. The estimated completion date is currently August of 2024.

Town Manager David Upson reported that the state announced a project to inspect sewer lines within the towns that were affected by the recent flood. They have recently started inspecting and cleaning the sewer lines in the Town of Hardwick. Upson asked residents to be aware that this work may cause temporary bubbling in their pipes.

The data from the state is starting to come back regarding how much the wastewater treatment plant was affected by the flood. The damage is greater than 50%. However, the plant is up and running. The town needs to decide how to move forward to protect the property from future disasters.

Upson met with FEMA’s grant manager on October 4 to discuss the disaster inventory. The town should see reimbursements start to trickle in. Hardwick has spent $460,000 on flood-related repairs. The items that have not yet been expensed are equipment, material, and overtime, however. Board Chair Eric Remick noted that even though the projects are still not 100% completed, the town has the financial resources to open roads up and make sure things keep moving forward.

Road Foreman Tom Fadden reported that all of the roads are open again. Paved roads that were damaged by the flood have now been re-paved or patched. Hardwick Farms will soon be getting a temporary bridge, which the road crew will install. Fadden also stated that jersey barriers have been ordered to keep the bridge in East Hardwick closed. The town needs to decide on the best approach to fix damage at the site and prevent it affecting the river.

The next agenda item was a discussion of the current state of downtown parking. Board member Shari Cornish mentioned that the planning commission recommends that the town paint the curb yellow in the intersection next to the no-parking area near Front Seat Coffee to make it easier for people to see when there is snow on the pavement. It was further recommended that the handicapped spot near the Flower Basket be changed to a 15-minute loading and unloading spot.

There was further discussion about the direction handicapped signs were supposed to face. Chief Henry suggested that the town shift the handicapped spot forward to allow for larger trucks. Board member Elizabeth Dow asked if there is enough room for larger delivery trucks to park in the current handicapped spot. The town would have to eliminate a parking spot to allow delivery trucks to park properly without affecting the crosswalk.

Board Vice chair Ceilidh Galloway-Kane said that the board needs to address two related issues: parking and enforcement. Henry stated that HPD could enforce parking, though only periodically. Remick mentioned that, in the past, an animal control officer has assisted with enforcement. After some discussion, the board’s consensus was that there is plenty of parking within town, but that delivery trucks need to park close to businesses, and the town’s parking regulations need to balance that need with safety. The board asked that the road crew paint the curb in the intersection where parking is prohibited yellow, and to order signs that indicate the 15-minute loading zone. The topic will be revisited in the spring.

The board discussed signing a letter of attestation in support of the Downtown Vibrancy Fund. Board member Cornish explained that this is a new grant program for all Designated Downtowns in Vermont. The $25,000 grant from the Agency of Commerce & Community Development would be used to support the Hardwick Downtown Partnership by hiring a part-time executive director for the downtown organization. The board voted to approve the Downtown Vibrancy Fund Letter of Attestation.

The next agenda item concerned the removal of contaminated soil at the Yellow Barn site. Board chair Remick reported that the Yellow Barn structure was recently lifted and a new foundation was put in place. The barn has now been placed back down and everything is looking great. However, work on the accelerator building is being delayed due to the condition of the soil. A test indicated that the soil is contaminated, which requires a change to the way the soil is disposed of. The Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District (CVSWMD) agreed to charge only an administrative fee of $7.50 per ton, rather than its usual price of $30 per ton, which would save the project $125,000. The soil needs to be removed quickly to get the footings completed before winter. The project’s management has applied for a grant to cover the cost of removal, but the town is currently covering the costs to keep the project on schedule. If the grant is awarded, the project will reimburse the town for the accrued expenditures from the grant. If the grant is not awarded, then the project’s management will make budget changes to reimburse the town. The board voted to authorize the town manager to sign agreements with Casella, the CVSWMD, and any other documents relating to the removal of the contaminated soil.

The board voted to authorize the town manager to sign an agreement with SE Group, a landscape design company based in Burlington, to complete Phase II of the Pedestrian Bridge and Park Project. The proposal is for $94,000 for the design work on the bridge and $45,000 for the park. SE Group is working with Bridge Brothers for the engineering of the bridge. The current project timeline calls for permitting to be finalized in June, the bridge to be delivered in September, and the placement to be finalized between October and November.

Board member Dow asked if the flood in July affected the project. The flood affected the retaining wall near the bridge, which is tied to the abutments of the bridge. The retaining wall will be fixed when the abutments are being repaired. The bridge is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

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