CHESTER, Vt. – The Chester Selectboard, who met Wednesday, Aug. 5, were asked to consider a resolution for future flag display; identified several streets to begin addressing speeding and possible speed limit reductions; and approved a $10,000 grant from the Chester Economic Development Fund for marketing.
Chester resident Tim Roper was again before the board to discuss how American flags have been displayed along Main Street in Chester. Roper had expressed criticism to the board before concerning “improper display” of the flag, citing poor quality flags, torn grommets, and issues with flags being wrapped around poles.
The flags had been purchased and are maintained by the Chester American Legion.
Selectboard member Jeff Holden, who is also a member of the American Legion, reported to the board after that initial criticism, that the Legion had addressed the concern, removing flags that were torn and fixing those with hanging issues.
During this follow up appearance to the board, Roper said that the flags still were not being displayed and maintained according to the federal flag code, which sets strict guidelines for their display and proper handling. According to Roper, he had picked up a fallen flag, which would now need to be properly destroyed. He said that he was coming before the board because, although the American Legion is in charge of the flags, “if they’re in disarray, it reflects poorly on the town.” Roper asked that the Selectboard approve a resolution that any flag displayed on town property is done in accordance with the federal flag code.
Holden said he would take to the Legion any suggestion that Roper had and admitted that continuous maintenance was difficult with flags regularly being wrapped around poles.
Roper suggested they take the flags down unless they are able to properly service them and suggested only putting them up on holidays or parade days.
Town Manager Julie Hance said she would give Roper and Holden some time to work out a solution from within the American Legion and that she would follow up “to make sure we have a process in place that works best for the town and in respect and honoring of the flag appropriately.” She also agreed to put the flag resolution request on the next agenda.
Speed limits on several of Chester’s roads were once again under discussion with board member Leigh Dakin highlighting several roads through town that she and Hance identified as experiencing speeding issues: Grafton Road, River Street, High Street, and Depot Street. Chester resident Ralph Falanga, along with support from Tim and Ginger Roper, also brought Andover Road to the board’s attention for the same issue.
The board agreed to begin the process of data collection for those roads as part of traffic studies as first steps in addressing the issue. Hance said she would work with Police Chief Rick Cloud and the Regional Planning Commission to work up a plan.
Board member Lee Gustafson said they needed to look at the data before making any decisions and that if the speed limits were reduced, enforcement would be a critical part of the solution. Holden also reminded the board that they would also need to update the town’s traffic ordinance so that enforcement would have the ability to make a traffic ticket stand if contested. The issue will be on a future agenda for further discussion.
The board agreed to award $10,000 from Chester’s Economic Development Fund to a group led by Bob Flint of Springfield Regional Development Corporation and Carol Lighthall of Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce for their proposed marketing strategy campaign for Chester. Their proposal, slated to take two to three months, would leverage the existing www.meetchestervermont.com website, shoot a video with drone footage featuring areas throughout Chester, and design an ad for both magazine and digital display.
In response to criticism from a local resident that the work would only benefit businesses on the green, Fling confirmed that the focus would be on Chester as a great community to live and work in, encouraging new families and businesses to move within Chester’s borders, not on tourism alone.
In response to a comment from Holden saying he didn’t want Chester to get “steamrolled” by other surrounding towns that are part of the Okemo Valley, Hance confirmed that this was a “very Chester specific project,” and was a plan that would grow each year.
Upcoming events include a groundbreaking ceremony for the Public Safety Building Thursday, Aug. 13 at 9 a.m. at the building’s construction site. Construction on the building is slated to begin the week of Aug. 17. Also, a theater group called the Liberty Players were approved to stage a free theatrical production on the green during a Saturday in August. The event will be COVID-conscious, adhering to social distance guidelines, and will be low impact to the green. That date to be determined between the Liberty Players and Hance.
The next Chester Selectboard meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. at the second floor of the Town Offices and via Zoom. The link can be found on the town’s website.