Marlboro set to buy Hogback

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BRATTLEBORO -- Marlboro voters learned the Hogback Mountain Conservation Association has raised enough money to buy 593 of the old Hogback Mountain Ski Area.

Bob Anderson, the president of the Hogback Mountain Conservation Association, said the reaction from town voters was so enthusiastic that the town moderator had to ask them to stop clapping so other matters could be discussed.

"This is a great day for Hogback," said Anderson. "It's been overwhelming to me the number of people who have been touched by this place and who have supported this purchase and its conservation."

The property is currently owned by a group of people who put money up in anticipation they would get paid back once the association raised enough money, said Anderson.

About 20 organizations and nearly 300 individual donors contributed to the effort, he said.

Contributions included a $44,000 challenge grant from the Pew Charitable Trust, which was met, and $319,000 from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

The town also contributed $50,000 to the effort.

The closing on the property is scheduled for March 31, said Town Clerk Nora Wilson, and a celebration is scheduled for sometime in May at the Skyline Restaurant.

In addition to the purchase, a small endowment will be established to promote educational programs at the Hogback.

Conservation easements, which will be held by the Vermont Land Trust, have been written and a forestry management plan is in place, said Wilson. The conservation easement will allow for recreation, education, wildlife habitat and natural resource protection.

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While the town will own the land, said Anderson, it will be open to all members of the public, regardless of their place of residence.

Marlboro will create a commission of five townspeople and one member each from the Conservation Commission and the Planning Commission to oversee the area.

Eighty-four of the town's 728 registered voters attended the meeting, said Wilson.

The approved school budget was $2,048,000.

The members of the town School Board, who cut the school budget by 2.7 percent, asked voters to reduce their reimbursement from $1,000 to $100, which was approved.

"They wanted to cut a lot of other stuff so they wanted to make that gesture," said Wilson.

Even though the school budget went down, said Wilson, the town's tax rate will be going up, due to the way the state has figured Marlboro's school tax obligation.

The auditor, listers and treasurer received a 2 percent pay raise, said Wilson. The constable's pay remained the same at $200 and Selectboard members will continue to get $1,000.

At next year's town meeting, residents will have the opportunity to decide if the town should go back to floor voting from the Australian ballot.

There were no contested races in town: Craig Hammond won the three-year Selectboard seat; Linda Peters will hold the three-year treasurer seat, as well as collector of delinquent taxes and trustee of public funds (both one-year seats); Evan Wyse is town lister (three-year seat); Barbara Andreotta is town auditor (three-year seat); Jennifer Carr is school director (three-year seat); Clarence Boston is constable (one-year seat); and Robert Anderson is grand juror and town agent (both one-year seats).

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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