Brattleboro continues down path to pedestrian safety

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BRATTLEBORO — Traffic safety has long been a concern here, where there's a committee named and tasked with addressing just that.

But now officials have brought a new urgency to the matter.

"This didn't come out of thin air. We had a pedestrian hit on Western Avenue about two months ago," Select Board member Dick DeGray said at a meeting in September after proposing the board dedicate funding to pedestrian safety devices right away. "That's when I started thinking about this."

On Tuesday, the Department of Public Works will have a recommendation for buying "traffic safety equipment for a variety of explicitly identified locations in town," according to an administrative report from the town. The Select Board voted in September to spend $30,000 on pedestrian safety devices with the money coming from this year's budget.

Tuesday's potential motion includes a price tag that's $110 higher. Board members also will be asked to accept and appropriate two Vermont Agency of Transportation Bike and Pedestrian Program grants. The $8,000 will go towards the installation of "rapid rectangular flashing beacon devices" at crosswalks on Western Avenue near Union Hill and Holton Home.

The board will consider a lease document for the Reformer to rent 2,200 square feet from the town when it takes over ownership of the newspaper's building on Black Mountain Road. Plans are underway to relocate the police station there after renovations. The Development Review Board has approved changes proposed for the building.

Two proposals from the Town Arts Committee will be discussed on Tuesday. The committee hopes to get approval for murals at the Transportation Center and High Grove lot.

Town Manager Peter Elwell is expected to bring the board through an overview of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 and the Windham Solid Waste Management District's proposed budget will come up, too.

The WSWMD sent select boards within the district two versions of the document, one that maintains the materials-recovery facility and one that does not. Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland has written a memorandum about how Brattleboro could dispose of recyclables if the MRF is discontinued.

The Select Board will be "asked to indicate its preference for either the 'existing operations' budget or the 'no MRF'" budget, the administrative report stated. The WSWMD Board of Directors has requested all towns in the district do the same.

The district sorts and bales different recyclable materials collected, WSWMD Board Chairman Lou Bruso wrote in a letter to select boards. The bales are sold to commodity brokers "for the prevailing price on the commodities market," he said.

Lately, the market has not been so good.

"In the last few years, recycling commodities have plummeted in value," Bruso wrote. "Our reserves over the past five years have fallen from $486,886 to $25,027 at the end of 2016."

The "no-MRF" budget would mean a reduction of 28.6 percent for towns from last year, but towns would have to look to the private sector for certain services. Bruso said some towns would pay more than they did and others would pay less.

The "existing operations" budget would be a 15.64 percent increase over last year's budget. But last year's budget was cut by 11.55 percent from the previous year "in anticipation of additional revenues and reduced staffing that never materialized," Bruso said, adding that "the effective increase of the 2018 budget over the 2016 budget is 2.3 percent."

Capital expenditures on the district's "aging facility" and trucks are being deferred another year while a solar project on its capped and closed landfill is being developed. An annual lease payment of $100,000 is being looked at as an option for funding such projects in the future.

Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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