Funding requests highlight meeting

 

Rockingham Meeting House. Photo courtesy of happyvermont.com
Rockingham Meeting House. Photo courtesy of happyvermont.com

 

 

ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – The Rockingham Town Selectboard meeting at the historic Meeting House recently was dominated by requests for funding from the Bellows Falls Historical Society and the Green Lantern, with both turned down.

Municipal Manager Chip Stearns reported that the town’s attorney, Stephen Ankuda, and the historical society’s attorney, Ray Massucco, had been working on a lease document for the old mill the town owns.

Stearns stated there were a few typographical issues, but his main concern was under item #9, that allows the Bellows Falls Historical Society to apply for local, regional, state and federal grants, and the town agrees to cooperate in the preparation and sign or co-sign these applications.

Gary Fox spoke on behalf of the Bellows Falls Historical Society, stating that a lot of funding opportunities do require municipal participation.

Selectboard Chair Lamont Barnett suggested that the language be changed to something like “the seller (town) ‘may’ cooperate” instead of “shall,” as saying “may” allows the municipality to say no.

Fox suggested that, should the language be changed, and if the Town Revolving Loan Fund was available, that the Bellows Falls Historical Society could apply for these funds.

Barnett said that it is not the preference of the town to draw down the Revolving Loan Fund for grants.

Selectboard member Ann DiBernardo expressed a concern that if this grant is allowed every other social service group would line up for a Revolving Loan Fund grant.

“We are not talking about social service grants,” Fox replied.

Selectboard member Peter Golec noted that these funds are loan funds, not grants, and would require payments with interest if this was approved.

Hearne said that he felt the town was not in a position to match grant funds for this project and wants to see that the town is protected.

It was decided to send the document back to the attorneys with the expressed concerns attached. The Historical Society request concerning a lease with the Town of Rockingham will be revisited at an Oct. 4 Selectboard meeting.

The Green Lantern lease discussion included a statement by Barnett that the lease was discussed briefly at the last meeting and it was decided to discuss this further at the recent meeting.

Barnett said that he got the impression that the board members did not want to continue with lease negotiations for a solar array in the gravel pit.

Hearne noted that there is a significant lack of available commercial property and feels that this should be left for that type of development.

DiBernardo asked how much acreage was at the pit, and Stearns replied that there is 42 acres and Green Lantern is proposing to use 3.9 acres. Stearns also noted that the location that is being requested would leave a ring around the site that would be unavailable for use.

Golec agreed with Hearne that the town should retain this property for future development.

Ralph Meima from Green Lantern stated that he understood the town’s reluctance, but the site in question is an excellent site for a solar array.

Meima also noted that after the array was decommissioned in 20 years the site would be available for re-development.

Barnett asked the board if they wanted to continue with lease negotiations. Stearns stated that the board had voted at a previous meeting authorizing him to enter into lease negotiations, and if the board wanted to cease a new motion should be made.

The motion passed unanimously by Selectman Josh Hearne that the board stop negotiations with Green Lantern for a solar array in the town gravel pit.

Stearns said lawn and leaf debris pick up will occur from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30, weather permitting on Mondays and Fridays. Bellows Falls Village Water Department will be flushing hydrants from Oct. 3 to Oct. 21 in the Bellows Falls village.

An email was distributed to the board regarding the possibility of a public parking lot across from the Bellows Falls Post Office. The land is owned by TransCanada.

An access permit for Priscilla Lambert on Pleasant Valley Road was approved. Stearns noted that the highway superintendent has reviewed the application and visited the site, and his recommendations are noted on the access permit.  A motion that the Selectboard approve the access permit for Lambert as presented passed.

Stearns noted that a memo was provided to the board with a bid from E. Clark Landscaping for cemetery maintenance, with an additional quote of $600 per season for trimming the front slope at the Rockingham Meeting House.

A motion passed that the three-year Cemetery Maintenance Contract (Jan. 2017 to Dec. 2019) be awarded to E. Clark Landscaping at a cost of $5,000 per month, $600 per season to mow the field at the Rockingham Meeting House (May through October each year), and $600 per season for trimming the front slope of the Rockingham Meeting House.

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