2018-05-17 / Front Page

First of New Northfield Signs Completed

Ken Hepburn of GO! Northfield appeared before the Northfield Selectboard last week to tell the board members that the first Northfield sign has been completed. He showed the board the new sign which is four by eight feet. He said donations for this project still are being solicited from local businesses and residents. The donation thermometer sign will be relocated to the Common next Tuesday when this year’s first summer Northfield Farmers Market is held. 
$4,000 has been collected so far, he said and he is also seeking contributions of the material needed to install the sign as well as sign-lighting options. 
Manager Schulz said local zoning ordinances require businesses to turn off their lit signs overnight but he is seeking an exemption from the Development Review Board (DRB) since this is a different situation. He added the DRB already has approved siting the new signs at the current locations (Vermont Route 12 South and North) and next will be asked to approve the new sites where the old signs will be relocated on Vermont Route 12A and Cox Brook Road. 
He said that the first sign was purchased with the donations collected to date and that the signs cost about $4,500. Work on the second sign will begin when the public funds become available. 
Debbie Zuaro who is the newest member of the Northfield Conservation Commission appeared before the board to discuss progress on the purchase of TDS Land on Paine Mountain.
She said that since she is the newest member of the Conservation Commission she has been put in charge of the fundraising effort to raise the balance of the estimated $35,000 purchase price of this parcel. 
Northfield voters authorized the expenditure of $25,000 in public funds for this purpose at the last town meeting. 
Ms. Zuaro said a fundraising flyer has been distributed around the community employing the slogan “Save our Summit.” Logo stickers designed by Sarah Wright also are being sold for $1.00 apiece; sixty (60) have been sold already. 
She said that $4,500 has been raised to date with the fundraising effort technically starting on May 1, 2018, and concluding July 31, 2018. The next plan is to sell t-shirts illustrating Paine Mountain highlights. There also is consideration of republishing the “Paine Mountain Guidebook” (1997) written by William E. Osgood with illustrations by Rebecca Merrilees that show the various trail routes and describes the mountain’s flora and fauna. 
Town Manager Jeffrey Schulz told the Board that  there has been serious discussion over the past few years of discontinuing public maintenance of some of the one and two house roads that serve mainly as driveways. It is costly for the municipality to maintain these Class 3 roads as they are dead ends outside of the main traffic arteries, he said. There now are about thirty (30) of these roads under consideration for discontinuance. After considering a number of factors, the Highway Subcommittee has created a short list of eight roads it recommends the Selectboard should start the process of discontinuing this year. Highway Foreman Trent Tucker has estimated the winter maintenance costs for these eight  roads at about $25,675. 
Manager Schulz noted road discontinuance is a lengthy process laid out in state statute that begins with notifying the affected property owners and followed by site visits and public hearings. The final step is a formal vote of the Selectboard members for road discontinuance. The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) also will need to be contacted in case it would like to keep one or more of the roads as public trails. Manager Schulz estimated the process from beginning to end should take about three months. Even though the property owners might object, the short list focuses on those roads that are basically long driveways. 
Board Chair Kenny Goslant said that understands this process will be difficult for those who have had their “driveways” publicly maintained for several years but discontinuing these roads will save money and allow the Highway crew to focus on heavily-travelled roads. 
Manager Schulz said there is a state grant now available that would provide funds for bike lanes and sidewalks. The primary intent is to create new bike lanes and pedestrian paths within the existing infrastructure but there may be funds to bring some areas up to full ADA-compliance. 
Manager Schulz brought this matter up to determine if this is something the Selectboard members would like him to pursue.  All agreed that it should be pursued.

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