Chester Select Board focuses on information booth, Academy Building

Academy Building
Chester Select Board June 5. Photo by Sharon Huntley

CHESTER, Vt. – The Chester Select Board focused primarily on the Information Booth area in Chester during their Wednesday, June 5 meeting, discussing both the information booth plumbing, which could possibly hook into the Academy Building piping and future use of the Academy Building itself.

Naomi Johnson from the Dufresne Group presented a recommendation and estimate for a pump station to be placed next to the Information Booth, which has a public restroom. Logistics of the location, which includes the need to work around a large tree, lead to recommendation of a pump station to empty the 1,000-gallon holding tank, with an estimated cost of $24,000.

Board Chair Arne Jonynas wanted to explore other options since the pump system has many mechanical parts that might lead to maintenance issues. “Ideally, it would be nice to have a gravity set up,” he said.

Another option discussed was hooking into the pipe coming from the Academy Building, which also has restrooms, sits beside the information booth, and is also owned by the town. The Select Board asked Johnson to explore those two options and provide more details on costs and feasibility for both.

The Board later discussed the Academy Building lease, which expires in February of 2020. Although the town owns the building, it is currently leased by the Chester Historical Society. The lengthy 15-year lease, which is about to expire, included many restrictions on the town to use either other parts of the building or the surrounding lawn without permission, something the town is looking to change.

Board member Lee Gustafson asked, “Do we, as the owners of the building, have the use of that building that we would like to have as the town, or are we being restricted by this particular lease agreement so that we can’t use it?”

Jonynas said they need to clarify use and entry into building but praised the work of the Chester Historical Society and confirmed that he still wanted them to be there. “I don’t want them to think we’re trying to get rid of them,” he said.

Board member Heather Chase wanted to go into executive session to discuss the lease in more depth. That led to a lengthy discussion about whether this subject met the proper criteria for needing an executive session, since there was no financial implication for what they were discussing, the money for the lease being negligible.

Jonynas wasn’t sure and Gustafson thought that it did not meet the criteria.

Shawn Cunningham of the Chester Telegraph spoke from the floor saying, “Executive sessions are not for conversations that are awkward or embarrassing.”

The Select Board agreed to table the discussion for now, to schedule a tour of the building, and to formally invite the historical society when they next put the Academy Building lease on the agenda so that “all stakeholders can be involved” in the discussion.

The next Select Board meeting will be June 19 at 6:30 p.m. downstairs at the Town Hall versus the first floor due to renovations.

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