Trustees hear riverfront park update

Thursday January 24, 2013

BELLOWS FALLS -- The landscape architect tasked with designing an historic trail system provided a progress update at Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

The Bellows Falls Historical Society hired Williston-based KAS, Inc., to redevelop its properties along the Mill Street Waterfront area into the Historic Riverfront Park and Trail System and engineer Stephen Diglio delivered a western parcel conceptual design presentation to the board.

Diglio said the meeting was intended to get public feedback in the project’s earliest stage. According to a document Diglio handed out, the western parcel project is funded through a Brownfields Cleanup Grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

He said the project’s objective is "to develop an historic riverfront trail system that also incorporates the soil and access management plan to ensure protection for human health and the environment from the existing soil contamination on the property" via historic or industrial usage.

The document he provided said the proposed western parcel conceptual design solution will complement the eastern parcel improvements and provide a cohesive Riverfront Park along Mill Street.

"To get this site into use and to manage the risk, we’ve come up with a solution that will ‘cap’ the public access area and restrict access," he said, explaining that capping is an industry term for providing a protective layer.

After the presentation, Municipal Manager Tim Cullenen suggested Diglio get in contact with Robert Wheeler, the chief operator of the wastewater department, to talk about any manholes and sewer lines that might interfere with the project.

During his update of the Bellows Falls Police Department, Chief Ron Lake said Christine Bullard -- the department’s police social worker who now works with both the BFPD and the Springfield Police -- will soon be full-time. He said Bullard has been a great help to his officers.

"We have a program that we want to do after she gets here full-time. It’s called ‘How Can We Help?" Lake told the trustees. "We’ve had some discussion on this. We go to a lot of complaints that have to do with family issues, whether its children or different breakdowns in the family dynamic.

"In any case," he continued, "with a police social worker and the amount of connections that the social worker has that can help us, we’re going to have an officer and a social worker pick out a few of the homes (where) we have a significant number of citizen disputes, citizen complaints, that sort of thing, in an effort to ... help the people who are in the homes."

Lake said police officers are not social workers but are called during domestic disputes. He said Bullard’s salary will be funded fully by Health Care and Rehabilitation Services (HCRS).

He said his department has made 22 arrests (an average of one a day) this year, as of 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The chief said seven of the arrests were on drug-related charges. He said complaints his department responded to in 2012 were down by 25 percent, but arrests increased 34 percent.

The chief also said he was very proud of the response to the Adopt an Angel program, which provides a way for citizens to purchase holiday gifts for anonymous children. He said 163 "angels" were taken care of this year.

In other business:

-- Zoning Administrator/Health Officer Ellen Howard and village attorney Ray Massucco addressed the board about a building that has been deemed unsafe at 35 Front St.

The property has been a topic of discussion previously and Howard and Bellows Falls Fire Chief Bill Weston were authorized to analyze the carriage barn and residence with the assistance of a structural engineer.

The trustees Tuesday voted to adopt a committee report on the property. Massucco told the Reformer the carriage barn and a damaged turret must first be secured and the owner then has 30 days to make temporary repairs to stabilize them. There is then another 30 days to meet all code requirements.

If these stipulations are not met within 75 days, there is an order to demolish the damaged portions of the property.

-- Bellows Falls resident Jerry Humphrey was appointed to the Bellows Falls Trustees Housing Research Committee.


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