CAVENDISH, Vt. – Owner of the Cavendish Academy building, Reese Brown, was in attendance at last Monday’s selectboard meeting to present a progress update on deed research pertaining to the property. Brown had come before the selectboard last November to ask that restrictions be lifted, so he can successfully sell the property. “I no longer live in town, and am anxious to sell the place to someone who has the resources to restore it to as close as possible to its original state.” The Cavendish Academy was incorporated in 1792 as the first academy to be chartered in the State of Vermont.
Brown reported that he had been in contact with Meg Campbell from the Preservation Trust, and she’d visited the site. “Meg felt there was much we could do to update the building while keeping its historic integrity.”
Town Manager Brendan McNamara asked Brown to send an email putting the details in writing, and he would turn everything over to town counsel.
The selectboard accepted the resignations of two planning commission members, Etienne Ting and Doug McBride, leaving the commission essentially nonfunctional with three members, not enough for a quorum. McNamara asked anyone interested in stepping in to please see him. He also proposed they consider reducing the committee size from seven to five members.
The three-year term of the town health officer is up in March. Doris Eddy is the current health officer. The board discussed being pleased with her work thus far, and made a motion to reappoint Eddy which was quickly seconded.
Cavendish resident Kem Phillips protested the motion, reading aloud a letter he’d sent to McNamara which was distributed to the board prior to the meeting. Phillips’ reason was Eddy’s support of Windsor-2 candidate for State Representative, Stu Lindberg. Phillips cited Lindberg’s public comments regarding the Covid vaccine which, he said, disseminated false and dangerous disinformation.
“If Eddy is to remain in office,” Phillips argued, “She must make a public statement saying she does not support the anti-vax policies of Lindberg. It’s not just any town office position, she’s the town health officer.”
The board didn’t feel they were authorized to ask Eddy to issue an official statement, and that it was her right to support the candidate of her choice. The board voted unanimously to confirm the reappointment of Eddy.
McNamara gave a report on the former town garage site and the results of recent soil tests. He was pleased and relieved, and said, “Realistically this could have been catastrophic. But, the tests came back to the effect that the state waived phase two.”
He added, “I mean, there will be restrictions in place. This was a former town garage, it was a coal depot for Mack Molding, so we can have a park, a beautiful space there, but we probably aren’t going to have a vegetable garden.” McNamara said hopefully spring or early summer will see the start of the project.
The Annual Town Meeting/FY2023-2024 update scheduled for Monday, March 6 at 7 p.m., will be held at Cavendish Town Elementary School, and via Zoom link. Voting will commence at 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 7, at the Proctorsville Fire Station. Voters will consider town office candidates, the adoption of the FY2023-2024 town budget, and tax collections.
McNamara’s Town Manager Report covered the status of historic 20 Mile Road Bridge, currently in dire need of repair and causing sinkholes to form on a nearby property. The repairs are extensive, and McNamara said, basing the estimate on a smaller project from six years ago, could cost up to $1 million. He plans to start getting in estimates, working in collaboration with VTrans and the Fish & Wildlife Department, because the work will impact the river.
The town water department has been trying to find the cause of the water discoloration some Cavendish residents have been experiencing sporadically. This could possibly be due to the population surge during the winter season, but the department’s not sure. McNamara requested citizens document when they experience brown water, as well as when the water runs clear. “It‘s going to take some time to get to the root of the problem, but we are working on it,” McNamara stated.
In conclusion, McNamara invited everyone to bid goodbye to board member Sandra Russo, who is not seeking reelection. “It’s been a pleasure for me to represent the people of Cavendish,” Russo said, adding, “Maybe we don’t always agree. But everybody here really has the best intentions of the town in mind.”