BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – The Feb. 13, 2018 Bellows Falls Trustee meeting began with a moment of silence for the passing of Michael Harty on Feb. 11. Harty had been the Village Moderator since 2000. “He kept us in order. He ran our meetings with clarity and good humor. He will be sorely missed,” said Village President Myles Mickle. The Board expressed their condolences to Harty’s family.
After the moment of silence, the meeting proceeded to the Manager’s Report where Municipal Manager Shane O’Keefe mentioned that a temporary moderator would need to be appointed prior to the Annual Meeting. The Trustees agreed to add this item to their next agenda.
In a previous discussion about parking enforcement in the downtown area, the Trustees suggested a volunteer parking enforcement position. Both O’Keefe and Police Chief Ron Lake did research on implementing a volunteer. Lake reached out to municipalities all over the state and heard from a few, including Brattleboro and Springfield. Their parking enforcement officers are paid positions. O’Keefe reached out to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns who responded by saying that there is no model for a volunteer position, and they were uneasy about the liability of that program.
“It’s a different volunteer than you would see at the recycling center,” O’Keefe noted, that there would be the issue of a volunteer in a law enforcement position. More research will be done.
With the new ordinance on weight limits for through traffic in downtown Bellows Falls, the Trustees looked into the intersection of Atkinson and Rockingham Streets as a potential issue for truck traffic turning to take the bridge into New Hampshire. Mickle spoke with Zoning Administrator Chuck Wise about the issue, and whether they could widen that road to increase the turning radius for tractor-trailers. Wise explained that a traffic count study would be needed. The service is free and provided by the Windham Regional Commission. Wise scheduled the study for the spring.
A separate turning radius study would also need to be conducted to determine what angle is ideal for trucks to turn without passing into the other lane of traffic. This study could cost anywhere between $500 to $1,000. According to VTrans, taking a right hand turn for a truck won’t be quite as difficult as a truck coming from Route 12 turning left onto Atkinson Street.
Mickle also noted that the road could be increased by taking land from the area around the wastewater pump. The pump is safely out of the way. “We have our own land we could borrow from,” he said, which means that they would not need to issue a permit for the construction. At the moment, they wouldn’t need to issue a permit to the gas station that was formerly Cumberland Farms to use that property to widen the roadway. More discussion is needed about the project, and Mickle suggested it be added to the next Joint Board agenda.