Cavendish Selectboard discuss COVID-19 impacts on town

CAVENDISH, Vt. – On May 11, 2020, the Cavendish Selectboard convened on Zoom to provide updates on the town’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, as well as raise some questions regarding current town operations and general discussion.

May 11 was the first day that the Cavendish Town Office was opened to the public; and although it is by appointment only, Brendan McNamara noted, “It was kind of the first big step.”

This change allows people, such as real estate agents or lawyers, to return to their research. However, the town is still taking social distancing guidelines seriously with plexiglass being installed in the office, gloves being provided to researchers, and masks being required. “It’s good to get people back in. People have been itching to get things done,” McNamara added.

Additionally, the Cavendish Transfer Station has returned to accepting demolition debris after it was halted due to the lack of Casella drivers available last month. Another item on the agenda was the town’s response to Vermont’s Green Up Day being postponed until May 30. McNamara said the town will not be doing a traditional Green Up Day followed by a picnic on the green this year. However, those who are interested in helping may pick up designated green bags at the town office, which can later be dropped off at the Transfer Station. “There has been a tremendous response to that,” McNamara added.

The town’s water supply, which has seen increased usage due to the pandemic, was also discussed. Over the last few weeks, the water levels of the town tanks have dropped from the average 35-37 feet of water when full to as low as 25 feet in each tank. “That’s a tremendous drop in the water supply,” McNamara pointed out. “A lot of second homes in towns are full and have been for a while. You have a lot of people home and not working.”

However, the town also discovered that Mack Molding had received a new commercial medical contract to help with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has them consuming 32,000 gallons of water a day, which amounts to 43% of the town’s daily production. However, increasing the town’s production might not be enough to sway any worry. “If the Fire Department has to dump and tie onto a hydrant, then we’ll have a problem,” McNamara added. He will be speaking to Mack Molding, but the town is still considering whether a conserve water order will be necessary in the weeks to come.

The Selectboard also discussed the idea of enforcement of the “Outdoor Junk and Junk Vehicles” ordinance. The question raised was whether enforcement should be based on a complaint basis or blanket terminology for the whole town, which Sandra Russo stressed could be difficult without a town constable or designated enforcement officer. “I think there are definitely places around here that need to be addressed…but we don’t have the manpower to do that.”

Stephen Plunkard believes the town should consider giving owners a deadline followed by fines or leans if necessary. “If this thing has no teeth to it, then there is no reason for people to do anything… It’s an economic issue as much as it’s a health issue.”

Brendan McNamara said he would investigate options of enforcement and bring more information to the next Selectboard meeting.

The next Selectboard meeting is scheduled for June 8. For more information, visit www.cavendishvt.com.

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