2018-01-11 / Front Page

The New Water Street Park Discussed at Special Meeting

A special meeting of the Northfield Selectboard was called last week to hear from the public about the newly completed Water Street Park.
Town Manager Jeff Schulz said that holding this public hearing is a requirement since the municipality received $250,000 in VCDP funds for flood mitigation work and to create the new natural park on Water Street. 
He noted that this area saw several flood-damaged structures removed through the FEMA buyout program. One public hearing was held at the beginning of the process before any funds had been expended and sought to obtain public comment on how these funds should be spent. Now that the project has been completed, this final public hearing is needed for public comment on how the funds were spent. The grant paperwork must be completed and submitted to the VCDP by January 15, 2018. 
Though it was a public hearing, few turned out to participate in the discussion.
Jay Pedley, who was there, asked if this public hearing were related to the proposed easement covering the Water Street buyout properties that VCDP is requesting from the municipality. Manager Schulz said this was a separate matter that will be discussed at a future Select Board meeting. He added said any action regarding the easement probably will be scheduled for the next regular Select Board meeting on January 9, 2018. 
Mr. Pedley said that he does have a number of concerns regarding the proposed easement and any restrictions that might be imposed on what can and cannot be sited on the new park. He said that the Northfield High School Class of 1957 has raised almost $30,000 for a park pavilion and Mr. Pedley wants to be sure the easement would not preclude putting chairs and tables around it. 
Manager Schulz said that he will check with the State about this. Mr. Pedley asked if a management plan has been written for the park. Manager Schulz said this would be developed should the easement be granted. 
Bruce Wright asked who would be paying for the maintenance of the new park. Chair Ken Goslant said it would be Northfield taxpayers. Mr. Wright asked if municipal employees would be doing the maintenance. Manager Schulz said that issue is being discussed during the current budget sessions. 
He went on to state that there needs to be a decision on whether the work would be done by the Highway Department crew or if it would be outsourced. 
Mr. Wright noted several trees recently planted in the park were brought down during a recent storm. He asked who would replace them. Manager Schulz said they probably wouldn’t be replaced since the municipality is not expected to pay for this. 
Mr. Wright thought no permanent structures were allowed on the site so why is the pavilion permitted. Manager Schulz said the pavilion would be the only structure allowed since it would be located out of the floodplain and next to the street. If any playground equipment is installed, it would have to be small and easily removable. Mr. Wright said his main concern is this new park doesn’t receive insufficient maintenance as has happened with other municipal parks in recent years. 

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