Plymouth talks private roads, $3 million recovery loan

PLYMOUTH, Vt. – The Plymouth Selectboard discussed inquiries from homeowners about converting some private roads to town roads at the Aug. 7 meeting. Chair Jay Kullman said that the roads would have to be brought up to Class 3, with specific grade, width, and tree clearing requirements. Board member Rick Kaminski added there would be other state and town requirements, and the Town Road Standards document is posted on the town website with more information.

Plymouth, Vt.

Kullman added that they would have to discuss the workload with the highway foreman to see if it’s feasible, also noting that converting would increase pedestrians and traffic.

Kullman suggested that anyone who wants to convert their road should talk with their neighbors and be in agreement, consult an engineer, get an estimate to bring the road to Class 3, and present the estimate and information to the selectboard. Member Keith Cappellini also suggested people attend the planning commission meetings and talk with chair Mike Coleman.

Jeffery Berselli asked if there was a road and mileage count of private roads that were washed out by the recent flood. Kaminski didn’t have a number, but did note later in the meeting that the town has to plow and maintain 42 miles of roads. Kaminski reported the town is focusing on repairing town roads, and also upsizing culverts in the process.

The board moved to review the $3 million loan for town repairs and recovery funding. Elaine Pauley sent the documents for the line of credit to the town’s attorney. Pauley reported the loan would have a 6.30% interest rate with Mascoma, and a variable rate of SOFR +1.65% with M&T Bank. She is continuing to gather information to find a loan that best fits the needs of the town at the best rate.

Rick Martin asked if FEMA will reimburse the town for interest paid on the loan, but the board was unsure. Kaminksi noted that FEMA does not reimburse 100%; they may pay up to 75%, however the dollar amount remains to be seen.

Kaminski added they came up with the amount of $3 million as the Vermont Agency of Transportation estimated the road repairs to cost approximately $3.4 million, though he felt that was a little high. Pauley and Cherry Nicoll estimated a cost of $2.968 million.

Resident Carol Goodwin mentioned the town would be receiving the $800,000 bond on Aug. 10, which was approved by voters for the town building project, and she thought the town had a fair amount of cash. Kullman responded they want to be ready when it’s time to pay the bills. He believed they had to borrow funds for hurricane Irene recovery as well. Pauley reported that as of Aug. 3, the total expenses amounted to $194,190.

Kullman updated the board on FEMA guidelines, stating there were some initial complications with the guidance the town had received. There is a general repairs phase, and things need to be broken down individually, such as time spent and equipment used. They are working with the town’s general contractors as to not undermine them in the process. Any repair project under $250,000 can be completed at the town’s discretion by using one of three contractors. Kullman recommended setting up a reserve fund for road repairs.

Kaminski reported that roads are getting repaired, prioritizing the main roads and by the number of people that are affected. Traffic has slowed the progress, so there was some discussion on posting where work will be done and getting the sheriff to sit out to help reroute traffic. Town clerk Angela Kissell noted that Kingdom Road is still closed, and has updated Google Maps and is contacting the 511 website. It was discussed that Billings Road had pavement curling under in some spots, and Frog City Road also needed work but is passable.

Kaminski also updated the board on the town building renovation project, stating he hoped to get the staff back in the building by the end of October. The project is being done in phases, with the entire project to be completed by the end of summer 2024.

The short-term rental special meeting was held Tuesday, Aug. 15, and the results of the vote to approve or disapprove the amendments will be posted online and in next week’s Aug. 23 edition. The next selectboard meeting will be Monday, Aug. 21.

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