Ludlow Selectboard holds first in-person meeting since April

LUDLOW, Vt. – Ludlow Selectboard met in person in the Heald Auditorium at their July 6 meeting, the first in-person Selectboard meeting since April due to COVID-19 concerns. The meeting did not include an online opportunity for participation. Despite a citizen requesting that the town consider offering the option, the board tabled the discussion, saying they would visit it as a view-only option.

Board Chairman Bruce Schmidt pointed to their efforts at wearing masks and practicing social distancing in Heald Auditorium, and expressing his concern that allowing ongoing remote access may open the door for broader interpretation of the democratic process later. “Next thing we’ll have people participate for town meeting via Zoom,” he said.

Resident Connie Miele went before the board with her sons to express their frustration with ongoing flooding problems that have plagued her Commonwealth Avenue property due to an improperly installed culvert from decades ago. The culvert continues to divert water onto her property during high run off events, causing flooding.

One of the Miele sons outlined a detailed construction solution for the board and Town Manager Scott Murphy said he had met with Connie to discuss several options as well but with no final solution to date, since another property owner is involved in the issue.

Schmidt said they would get an engineer to look at the project and suggested they could invoke imminent domain to help with a solution with an abutting property owner if needed. He said they owe it to the Miele family to come up with something.

Ludlow residents Jim and Jaclyn Allen brought a parking issue to the board concerning Red Bridge near Lake Rescue. The Allens asked for clarification of the parking ordinance in that area. According to Murphy, residents have been swimming at Red Bridge for 60 years, and the annual summer parking is an ongoing issue. Police Chief Jeff Billings clarified that people are allowed to park on both sides of the road past Lake Shore Drive to East Lake Road. Billings did suggest that the town might consider making Red Bridge Road a one-way roadway to help mitigate safety issues.

Schmidt felt there would be as many people telling them a one-way road would not be the right solution, and he asked Murphy to come back to the board with some direction on the issue.

The board appointed new members to the Ludlow Development Review Board. Julie Bowyer is appointed to a one-year term, Doug Sheehan is appointed to a one-year term, John Bowyer is appointed to a two-year term, and Phil Carter is appointed to a three-year term. The board appointed Ted Stryhaus to one of the two vacant Planning Commission seats. The other position remains open.

The board signed a resolution to dedicate Lamere Square Footbridge to Bob Gilmore, a longtime business owner and Ludlow Village Trustee who also served on the town water commission for many years. The structure will be dedicated as The Robert N. Gilmore Footbridge.

Patti Potter, manager of the Ludlow Transfer Station, informed the board on a procedural change being made for commercial haulers, requiring payment by weight.

Schmidt went on record to say he wasn’t in favor of the change, saying that haulers were being charged twice since residents already paid for their purple bags as well as a permit to access the station. Schmidt said that if budget was an issue for the transfer station, they would look at how they could help this budget season.

Ludlow resident Brian Crossman brought an animal control issue to the board citing feral cats roaming in the Ludlow village area. In the past, the town has brought in the Springfield Humane Society to trap the cats to spay and neuter them and release them back to the same location.

Of particular concern is an older female resident who has been known to feed the cats and has been doing so for over 20 years. According to Crossman, he’s seen her pulling up and feeding cats with 40-pound bags of food.

The board agreed it was a major issue, and asked Murphy to “get right people on it,” so that cats wouldn’t be returned to the neighborhood.

The next Ludlow Selectboard meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Heald Auditorium.

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