CHESTER, Vt. – Vandalism, village signage, and several upcoming events including details on the Chester Festival on the green were hot topics at the May 5 Chester Selectboard meeting.
Town Manager Julie Hance announced the town will be installing four cameras in and around the Pinnacle Recreation Area in response to recent vandalism at the town pool, which resulted in $2,000 to $3,000 in damages to the pool liner. The four cameras will be installed to provide different views in and around Pinnacle and will be monitored from within the Chester Police Department, costing approximately $7,600 for purchase of the cameras, installation, and the monitoring system. Although the expense is unbudgeted, Hance said this was something that could not wait another year in light of the “amount of vandalism that is starting to take place.”
Hance is moving forward to have village signage manufactured that will direct visitors to the village center as part of the Way Finding Plan, which had been submitted for state approval at the end of 2019. The state committee that meets and approves the signs at the state level has not met since Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in early 2020, keeping the process in a holding pattern.
Undaunted, Hance is looking to have the first four signs produced this year to direct people to the village center with the words, “Shop, Dine, Stay,” with more slated in future. Although Hance needs permit approval for installation, she is proceeding to get costs from fabricators as she tries to get answers from the necessary state committee officials.
Chester’s Fall Festival will be undergoing some dramatic changes this year, including a name change, courtesy of the group of volunteers who have established “Chester Community Events LLC” to take the reins in planning the popular yearly event after the Chester Rotary announced earlier this year that they were stepping away from the festival helm.
The committee has renamed the event “Chester Festival on the Green” and is expanding the footprint of the festival to include additional areas on both sides of Route 11, including front and rear of the Academy Building, the town’s information booth area, as well as other areas for vendor and visiting parking. The event will introduce new agricultural demonstrations, games, food court, and live local music. Hours will expand as well, with music happening throughout the day and continuing in the evenings until 8 p.m. after booths have closed at 4 p.m.
Area crafters’ and artists’ booths will still be featured and Green Mountain Union High School classes will continue to have their fundraising booths.
The board approved use of the additional town areas, expanded security, portalets, and access to power throughout the weekend, scheduled Sept. 18 and 19.
The committee is seeking “Chester ambassadors” during festival weekend to distribute maps and help guide visitors around town. Interested ambassadors can call 802-297-7583 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.chesterfallfestival.org to see updated information as it becomes available.
The Dance Factory will be performing a new ballet called “Thumbelina – a Vermont-grown story ballet” outside at Cobleigh Field Friday, June 25 with two free performances at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. with a rain date of June 26. Spectators will be asked to follow state and CDC guidelines. There will also be performances in Springfield. See The Dance Factory’s Facebook page for details.
The Ruck-Up Organization, a group that provides advocacy, outreach, counseling, and financial assistance programs for veterans asked the board to approve a coin drop Saturday, July 10 on Route 103 stretching from approximately Marshall Road to Mountain Road.
After Board Member Leigh Dakin reminded other board members that there was a coin drop happening in May for the Chester American Legion, the board requested that they consider rescheduling for August so the two events were not so close together. George Lagasse from Ruck-Up agreed to return with a new August date for the board to approve.
Board member Heather Chase suggested the board consider adopting a policy for coin drops in future so they have guidelines in place to address frequency, host group, location, or other factors.
Hance updated the board on the three-month financial review saying they had underspent so far and doing well enough to possibly avoid taking out a short-term gap loan, which is standard practice for towns, or if they do, only for a small amount and very short term.
Several tax sales will be taking place in early June for seven or eight properties, all with delinquencies spanning multiple years.
Ambulance revenue is down and the ambulance department is seeking other options for collecting delinquent revenue including possibly hiring an agency that specializes in recovering ambulance debt. Chase expressed concern about being seen as negative PR and wanted to see more detailed financial information.
According to Hance, the new Public Safety Building is “pretty much on track” with an expected completion during the third week in June.
The next Chester Selectboard meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 19.