East Hardwick, News

Fire District Board Balancing Multiple Plans, Grants and Programs

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EAST HARDWICK – At regular meetings of the East Hardwick Fire District (EHFD) for the second quarter of 2024, the trustees heard fiscal and operational reports.

In this quarter, delinquent payments were discussed at each meeting and treasurer John Mandeville reported that “two properties are in the tax sale pipeline and other overdue payments have dribbled in.”    As of the June meeting there was only one additional ratepayer who owes more than $100.   

The district holds a $15,000 CD that will mature in August and all agreed with the recommendation to move the proceeds into cash.

As for operations and maintenance, all roots that intruded into the springs have been cleared and the four springs have been cleaned.

A new flow meter was installed at a cost of $2,600 and a new pump for water quality sampling was ordered.

Plans are underway to replace curb stops at properties that need them.   

The county forester’s office offered to develop a plan for the tree clearing that is needed near the springs and beyond.

At the April and May meetings Doug Casavant reported on an operation to repair a leak on Brickhouse Road. The compromised pipe was very deep and the excavation was extensive, and very muddy.

When asked about continuing the chlorination of the reservoir, Dave Gross explained “Now that the root intrusion has been mitigated, our contracted operator, SOS, is performing testing of the four springs individually for bacteria. We expect to see the results by mid-July. Depending on these results the State will inform us about next-steps regarding further chlorination and testing.” In Vermont the Department of Environmental Conservation is tasked with the job of protecting the public health by assuring safe drinking water from all water systems.      

The fire district owns a small building on Main Street in East Hardwick. It once stored the fire hose cart and was used as a village library. This property has been neglected for years, and despite efforts by the East Hardwick Neighborhood Organization, it is not suitable for community use. The inside has mold, the roof is collapsing, the basement has already collapsed and the 26-foot square building would need water, sewer and new electrical systems before it could be used. It would also have to be made accessible. Many options were explored for this, but in the end, they were simply unworkable or too expensive. Because there is very little land around the building, there is no space for expansion or for handicapped parking or a passenger drop-off area. Alas, the trustees have decided to tear down the building and are currently seeking bids to do the demolition and remediation. As part of the Better Connections process, the community will be invited to make suggestions for how to use the small plot of land where the old library now stands.

In 2023, the town of Hardwick was awarded two Better Connections grants totaling $97,500  to be used to develop visions and plans for future improvements in East Hardwick. The completed master plan will include storm water and sidewalk infrastructure, parking, traffic calming, outdoor parks and much more.  The goal is to have a plan in place that the town can take to funding sources.   

The fire district met with Peter Fairweather, the Better Connections consultant, and town Development Coordinator, Tracy Martin before their regular July meeting at the Grange Hall in East Hardwick.   

The trustees presented their thoughts for making East Hardwick “the best it can be” including reinstating the hydrants by installing eight inch water lines, evaluating the total water capacity at the springs in order to provide for commercial growth, evaluating septic capacity in the Village and the possibility of shared septic systems, bringing electricity to the springs and providing public access to the river.   

The board described the properties held by the fire district including the 94 acres on Ward Hill. David O’Brien explained that only about a third of that acreage is used for the water supply, 60 acres are forested and unused.   

The village library demolition is only one of many plans and projects the fire district has on its plate. Currently progressing and discussed at each board meeting are an Asset Management Plan and an application for an Asset Management Grant, an application for a Community Finance Grant, a Penalty Mitigation Plan, a Source Protection Plan and a Preliminary Engineering Report as well as developing a set of management Rules and Regulations.

The function of the EHFD is to operate and maintain municipal water service for East Hardwick Village. The trustees of the EHFD meet regularly at 6 p.m., on the third Tuesday of each month. All meetings are open and rate payers are encouraged to attend. Board members can be contacted through the organization’s website at ehfd.mystrikingly.com. The website also posts notices and minutes of the meetings.   

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