BELLOWS FALLS -- New life may come to the old Robertson Paper Co. mill on Island Street following a unanimous vote by the town’s governing body this week.
The Rockingham Selectboard approved a five-year, $90,000 loan to the Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation on Tuesday and authorized Municipal Manager Wills D. "Chip" Stearns II to sign a resolution that solidifies the zero-interest terms that will help the corporation purchase the building, known as Robby Paper to some locals, and renovate it.
According to the resolution, Rockingham and the BFADC have worked closely over the years on various development projects and the town wants to attract and expand businesses, while turning long-standing brownfields into useful properties. The loan is due and payable on or before June 30, 2019.
Earlier in the Tuesday’s meeting, the Selectboard approved a seven-year, $80,000 loan for Buck Adams to purchase 108 Rockingham St. (which used to house Cal’s Service Station). According to Rockingham Development Director Francis "Dutch" Walsh, the loan was unanimously recommended by the Rockingham Revolving Loan Fund Committee on May 28 after its members were satisfied by the environmental analysis conducted by Harper Environmental Associates, of Plymouth. The interest rate is set a 4.5 percent.
Katie Dearborn, a member of the revolving loan fund committee, said Adams has a repair shop in Westminster and wants to relocate his consumer repairs facility to Rockingham Street in order to serve the downtown employees who can drop off their vehicles for oil changes or light mechanical work.
Discussion later moved to a stack of tires some are calling a "tire wall" on Golden Hill Road. Some town residents have been complaining about the wall since November and want something done about it. Stearns told the Reformer someone on the property got a permit from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources more than a year ago to build a retaining wall out of whole tires and has since developed a stack of 1,200 tires. He said it is unsightly and a growing concern due to the hot, wet, mosquito season that is about to begin.
Resident Tim Knight is one of the citizens demanding action be taken and have attended at least two Selectboard meetings, including the one of Tuesday. He told the Selectboard nothing had been done about the problem. MacPhee said he wants the Selectboard to "turn up the heat" and get the property owner or the ANR to resolve the matter. Attempts to contact Stearns and MacPhee late in the week were unsuccessful.
Despite the concerns, no health order has been issued in regards to the tire wall, according to Rockingham Health Officer Ellen Howard.
In other business:
-- Stearns told the Selectboard he has met a couple of times with Westminster Town Manager Russ Hodgkins to discuss the future of trash disposal in Westminster. He said the town expects to end curbside pick-up on June 30, 2015, and is now searching for alternatives.
"It would appear the transfer station that we have now in Westminster, just south of the village of Bellows Falls (and operated by Rockingham), is the best alternative for additional recycling to happen there, and solid waste can be brought in ... as well," Stearns said, adding that Westminster might be in a position to supplement income to the town of Rockingham for operating the transfer station.
-- The Selectboard voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of a fully-equipped 2014 Western Star four-wheeler for the Rockingham Highway Department.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.