Rockingham, VTrans discuss Route 5 bridge replacement

ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – On Tuesday, Aug. 4, the Rockingham Selectboard discussed Bridge No. 38 with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Bellows Falls Opera House, and the Transfer Station.

VTrans engineers Rob Young and Laura Stone presented information on the replacement bridge on Route 5 in Rockingham over the Green Mountain Railroad.

Doug Thurber from the Boat Guy Marina and Selectboard members expressed concerns about the 14.4-mile detour. Thurber explained that his busy season was from April to December and asked, “If my business takes a major hit, is the state of Vermont going to help me out?”

Chair Gaetano Putignano asked about the option for the temporary bridge plan, concerned about residents needing emergency services and the added time it would take for responders.

Young addressed the concerns by offering public outreach and communication, looking at reducing the construction schedule, and suggested using mutual aid or parking an emergency vehicle on the other side of the construction site.

Putignano said, “Fourteen miles on paper doesn’t look like a lot…and we are not in a situation to stage an ambulance or pumper on the other side.”

Ben Masure’s concern was the added burden of time and money for residents to detour.

Resident Pat Fowler reminded everyone about the importance of the Herrick’s Cove Festival in May that attracts 1,200-plus visitors. Thurber explained his busiest push was April through Memorial Day.

Putignano wondered, “If more planning and perhaps funding was an option” would a temporary bridge be considered?

Stone said that was “not ideal” and felt the detour was acceptable.

Resident Julie Nauceder was concerned that her foundation shared bedrock with the bridge. Stone explained the geologists would assess the bedrock, and Young said there were provisions in the contract protecting all parties involved.

Putignano reminded VTrans this was the first communication they had had with the town and said, “Perhaps it makes sense to have another discussion.” Stone agreed they would share concerns with upper management that had approved the project.

Resident Charlie Hunter proposed a business plan to the Selectboard for a nonprofit to run the Bellows Falls Opera House, suggesting online features enabling patrons to purchase dinner, concessions, and movie tickets. Interim Municipal Manager Chuck Wise agreed with online ticket sales and suggested redesigning the foyer to avoid crowds.

Board members were interested but wanted to ensure affordable movies and concessions would still be available. More discussion is expected at the next meeting Sept. 1.

Peter Golec explained that Recycling Department Coordinator Gary DeRosia resigned, along with three of his volunteers, and “The reason they left was because of the [Recycling Committee] report.”

Putignano explained they made “recommendations, not direct orders, to improve what’s happening.”

Stefan Golec said, “Our goal is to make sure we’re doing the best we can for Rockingham residents.”

The Selectboard agreed more information is necessary and changes needed to be made.  They are currently looking for a new coordinator and more volunteers. Board members expressed thanks to both Gary DeRosia and Mike Furgat for their years of service.

September Selectboard meetings are the first and third Tuesdays in the Lower Theater of the Bellows Falls Opera House at 6 p.m.

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