GUILFORD — The Green River Covered Bridge has been in the works for seven years, but recently the disposal of some of its siding has frustrated one Vermonter in particular.
Dave Matrango of West Halifax started an email argument back and forth with Town Administrator Katie Buckley, who has been managing the project, stating that the siding of the former bridge had been "painstakingly" removed and given to another resident. Buckley assured Matrango through email that the project has been transparent and the siding was taken care of properly.
"The boards that were in the best condition were reused on the inside of the portals of the bridge, but unfortunately, by the time I had learned of their value, most of them had already been demoed off the bridge and discarded," said Buckley to Matrango. A few were recovered by a resident who had expressed interest in them.
The Reformer received a call from a concerned resident that siding was taken from the old bridge and given away without notification to other town residents who might have wanted it.
Matrango responded to Buckley's email that he was "not buying" what she told him. Matrango emphasized that the siding of this historical bridge is in fact "quite valuable" and worth at least an estimated $8.50 per lineal foot. Buckley sent an email to the press, stating that the bridge plans, which include all of the materials to be added to and removed from the bridge during the project, have been reviewed and approved by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) Transportation Alternatives Program staff, the VTrans State Historic Preservation Officer and the VTrans Covered Bridge Committee, as well as engineers from both VTrans and ones contracted by the town.
"The plans do not contain any special notes for the disposition of demoed materials nor was there any concerns expressed for any of the materials removed," Buckley stated in her email. "At no point in the many steps of this review process was the Town told that it must retain any of the materials removed from the bridge for historic value."
Buckley went on to say that when the decision was made for full siding and roof sheathing replacement, after the construction had begun, the project was reviewed by all of the parties she listed and all agreed with full replacement of each.
"At no point in this step of the process was the Town told that it must retain the siding for its historic value," Buckley stated.
Buckley notes the removed siding sat on the job site for weeks and she said that "at any time, any resident (or a non-resident) could have inquired about its disposition," and the project's plans were on the town's website for months.
"...of all the many craftspeople living in Guilford who have known about the project for years, only one inquired about the siding and this was after it had already been removed and was in a pile on site," Buckley said.
Select Board Chairwoman Sheila Morse also said that it wasn't until after the siding was gone that someone expressed interest in it.
Matrango sent an email on Sept. 1 to Buckley which included this statement, "I'll continue to investigate this story until I get to the truth."
Buckley refuted Matrango's comment, "There is nothing about the disposition of this project's construction materials that is nefarious, iniquitous or 'B.S.,' as you claim. The roof boards that are being removed from the bridge are badly damaged (hence the need for full replacement) and covered in nails. They are not in any condition that the town will make them available to the public due to the threat of injury to those handling them."
The bridge is still under construction and remains closed through September 30.
"I think the bridge work is going amazing well, the community has been really terrific about it and at every Select Board meeting we have, we update about the bridge," said Morse
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275