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Hardwick Farms Bridge Roadblock Cleared

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HARDWICK – John Laggis went to the May 2 Hardwick select board meeting to talk about the bridge on Hardwick Farms Road.

The Laggis’ temporarily fixed the bridge after the flood, allowing the farm to function as it had before the flood destroyed the bridge that is critical for them and other area farmers to conduct their business efficiently.

Laggis reported that the temporary bridge shut their operation down because milk, grain, and manure trucks have not been able to pass through the temporary bridge.

It is a five- to six-mile trip for the equipment and trucks to go around and Laggis feels that both Porter Brook Road and Montgomery Road are not safe for the trucks.

The lack of a working bridge has been a major inconvenience for their farm and Laggis has been disappointed at the time that it is taking to install a bridge that is useful to his farming operation. He wants to see the town remove the temporary bridge and close the road so they can put their original replacement bridge back in place.

After a lengthy discussion, the town’s select board approved his suggestion.

Town Manager David Upson explained that the Laggis’ temporary repairs would not be eligible for FEMA reimbursement if the temporary bridge were removed, asking Laggis what other equipment would be needed to cross the bridge once the manure spreading season is done.

Laggis explained that mowers, rakes, and choppers would need to pass over it in a cycle they go through multiple times a season with manure spreading, crop planting and regrowth, followed by harvesting.

Laggis indicated that they had put a fair amount of time and material into their first temporary replacement bridge, doing repairs of their own immediately following the flood. Laggis is willing to remove the current bridge and put the old one back.

Danny Hale said the town should take out the temporary bridge and let the Laggis’ do what they need to do.

Upson asked for input from Road Foreman Tom Fadden, who indicated that if the bridge is closed, the town will need to ensure that no one is using it because there are liability concerns if someone goes through the bridge. He indicated that they would only plow on one side of the bridge. Ceilidh Kane asked if the town could do some more research on the winter implications and vote at the next meeting about the best route to take. She said they could put up a road closed sign.

Upson responded to Kane’s comment and Fadden’s liability concerns by saying the town can have people sign waivers to use the road, giving permission for people to use the bridge.

Upson told the board he had not spoken with the two residents that live just on the other side of the bridge and would like to communicate with them before proceeding.

In the end a motion was made to remove the temporary bridgeand passed unanimously. It clears the way for the Laggiss to replace their original temporary bridge, allowing farm vehicles to use the unobstructed road.

Upson has been working with FEMA on bid documents for the pedestrian bridge and retaining wall repairs on the main street side of it, along with flood damage repairs to the wastewater treatment plant and the fire station.

Hardwick’s Business Manager, Casey Rowell noted the town now has $1 million in flood expenses. So far, the town has been fortunate to fund everything without borrowing money, but only $13,000 has been received and another $73,000 obligated, but not yet received. Without knowing when FEMA reimbursement will be, Rowell recommended the town get a non-revolving line of credit in case it is needed six to eight months from now.

She presented two bid letters for two separate notes (one for general expenses and one for sewer expenses) at an interest rate of 5.89% on any amount that is borrowed. She is fairly confident the town will not need to use them, but, with the uncertainty of FEMA reimbursements, she wants to put them in place so the town is not scrambling in the event cash gets tight later in the year. There is no cost to have them in place if they do not end up being used.

The board voted to approve opening the two lines of credit at Union Bank totaling $1,025,000 for a term of 12 months.   

The road crew has repaired two catch basins on North Main Street in preparation for future paving and most town roads have been graded, with only a few left to complete. They have been working on ditching Montgomery and Hardwick Farms Road.

Kane expressed concern that the slide on the edge of School Street near Route 16 in East Hardwick continues to get worse. Upson said the town isn’t in a position to do any repairs, but, If it gets a lot closer to the state highway, VTrans might step in and do something about it.

Police Chief, Mike Henry told the board that they had completed sex offender registry checks, and everyone was complying, two radar guns that were ordered last month came in and the two people recently hired will be going to the part-time police academy in June. More applications have been coming in, but the department doesn’t have positions to fill.

The town agreed to accept responsibility for managing Fairview, Main Street and Maple Street Cemeteries, adding them to the mowing contract with Kirkyard Services.

In other business, Jeff Perry approached the board about purchasing the town’s Carey Road property, but no decision was made; Fadden met with a contractor about placing guard rails on Carey Road where there was a landslide; the radar sign is back up near Buffalo Mountain Market and needs sun for the solar panel to recharge so it works again; a second class liquor license for Buffalo Mountain Co-op was approved unanimously; Norma Wiesen presented the board with copies of the Natural Resource Inventory report developed under contract to the Hardwick Conservation Commission (HCC) and Tyler Buswell was appointed to the reminder of a two-year term and Lesa Cathcart to the remainder of a four-year term on the HCC.

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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