DOVER -- Selectboard members listened but did not have much they could offer to senior citizens who were upset with the lack of transportation available to them.
"Although I sympathize with issues you raised, I'm not certain there's anything the town can do," said Dover Selectboard Chairman Randy Terk.
On May 6, residents from the Butterfield Common Apartments, which hosts many elderly as well as disabled people, voiced their unhappiness with current transportation and fire safety arrangements.
"We've been trying for seven years to get the Moover to come down Handle Road and stop at Butterfield Common," said Nancy Anderson, a resident of the apartments. "One reason people came to this senior living up on Butterfield Common is because there would be bus service available to them."
The issue, she explained to the board, had to do with money. Representatives of the Windsor and Windham Housing Trust and the Deerfield Valley Transit Association generally agreed with that. Those two groups have a contract for transportation services. The housing trust owns the property while the DVTA owns the Moover that provides some services to residents there.
"It all comes down to funding," said Jan Terk, representing the DVTA. "I do want to mention that through this whole process, we have not been approached recently about providing service."
The association was open for discussions regarding a price, she added.
In a statement, the DVTA said the demand for public transit at the apartments for households without vehicles is very small.
Currently, there are trips from the Moover buses available to residents of the apartments that go to Jacksonville, Wilmington and Bennington. The service is door to door.
"We're not asking you to pay for the Moover but to help us finding grants. The Moover says we'll bring you to senior lunch in Jacksonville and shopping (in Wilmington). This takes away all of our independence," said Anderson, addressing the Selectboard .
According to Director of Operations at Windham and Windsor Housing Trust Deb Zak, her organization had discussed the possibility of the Moover making additional stops at the apartments but she did not know why it had not yet happened. She said residents had sent letters to legislators and wanted the Selectboard to advocate for them rather than write grants.
"I think the Moover hearing from all of us may make a difference," Zak said. "That there is a level of need here."
Buzzy Buswell, who owns a transportation service himself, said the issue did not belong at a Selectboard meeting.
"We're not in the business of writing grants for private organizations," said Randy Terk. "If there are problems with transportation, we can't address that. We're not in the transportation business."
Marlene Wein pointed out that it was not only the lack of available transportation that was presenting an issue. A few years back, one of the residents who lives at the apartments was hit by a plow truck during a snow storm and hospitalized.
"It's the danger," she said. "There's no sidewalk."
Jack Carroll, another resident of the apartments, touched on fire safety issues and invited Selectboard members to visit the grounds. He said during a power outage, the sprinkler system would not function and that escaping from a potential fire would be difficult for many of the residents.
"The grade in the back of the building is such that I don't see how you can put a ladder truck in there. The second form of egress is the windows and that's really the concern," he continued. "We're faced with a three-story drop, which is pavement and crushed stone. There's no way that anyone could go out that window if they needed to and survive that."
Carroll also mentioned that the elevator, needed and used by many of the residents, has no back-up system. It would not run through a power outage.
Randy Terk suggested concerned residents contact the state about that issue as it has to do with an Act 250 permit. He said the town does not have an ordinance or way to enforce those items.
"I didn't realize that was an issue that was going to come up tonight," said Zak. "We are investigating whether a generator should be installed. It's expensive."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.