Wilmington board holds off on fire agreement


WILMINGTON -- Too much was still unknown for the Selectboard to sign off on a fire agreement with the Hermitage Club.

Wilmington Fire Department Assistant Chief Richard Covey explained that the agreement lacked plans from the group, which owns property on Haystack and has plans for additional development there.

"Is this kind of the cart before the horse?" said Selectboard member Tom Fitzgerald, followed by Selectboard member Susie Haughwout saying she felt like a fish out of water.

Haughwout mentioned being concerned that no one representing the Hermitage Club attended the Aug. 8 meeting.

Ultimately, the board did not sign the agreement. Its members wondered where the additional apparatus would be housed. Covey said a large ladder truck would be needed if plans move forward on a hotel that was proposed to the Development Review Board. It was approved but will require another visit by the DRB for a construction permit in the future.

The Hermitage Club currently is preparing an Act 250 permit application that will focus on its master plan. The group recently requested the Wilmington Planning Commission draft a letter that says whether the commission believes the plan is Town Plan compliant. Commission members did not believe they had enough time to review it and make that determination. The request came a week before the Hermitage Club plans to submit the plan to the state.

The fire agreement was in the works before the Hermitage Club came along. It began with previous owners who said they would purchase equipment deemed necessary for their plans. Hermitage Club founder Jim Barnes told the town he would be willing to keep that deal on the table.

"Tonight, I was hoping we'd have answers and we still don't," said Selectboard Chairman Jim Burke.

In other business

-- The board received a presentation from consultant Lucy Gibson. She was hired to complete a scoping study through a grant the town received for improving sidewalks downtown. She asked the town whether it wanted to consider taking over the maintenance of West Main Street.

Currently, the Agency of Transportation maintains it, which means the town could be limited in what it can do for its streetscape project.

"I know the state has asked our town manager once or twice a year to take that road over," Burke said. "He tells them constantly, 'No.' That's where I'm coming from. I know this is not the first time"

With goals she has heard for improving streetscape in town, Gibson said the board may be disappointed in the results if it does not take over maintenance. She said she met with the downtown organization Wilmington Works design committee and began identifying needs.

Board members asked Gibson for more information regarding taking over the maintenance of a road from the AOT. They asked to see examples of towns that had done that. Gibson said she could get a better estimate of how that may look for the town.

"We'll be coming up with a lot of conceptual designs," she added.

-- The Selectboard approved two requests for using local option tax revenue. Local business owners Sheila Osler and Susan Lawrence received permission to purchase three signs that will sit at the three entries into town for $20,000 while Economic Development Consultant Gretchen Havreluk was approved for $20,000, which will go towards securing improved or new broadband service for business owners in the Higley Hill Road area. Other funding will come through the Vermont Telecommunications Authority and Duncan Cable.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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