Live Blogging 22 March Selectboard meeting

Off to a late start as sb waits for tv to be set up

Alex DeFelice asks for show of hands on who is here for DISMAS house, Municipal Building, WRJ parking lot.

Easily 60 people here maybe 85. Pct are abt 40% dismas, 35% municipal, 25% parking lot

First up Dave Briggs presenting 3rd Q report from downtown development ctte.

AD: would it be beneficial for the board to fill in the history on the parking lot or not?

Trudy Abbott — parking lot needs to be leased by town and put up parking meters

Hunter Reiseberg — giving history of parking lot issue. Railroad wanted 600K plus wanted buyer to hold RR harmless against any pollution claims on the site (which used to be the location of a gas station). Second, that buyer would indemnify RR against claims from anyone else. Meanwhile another buyer came along. Town trying to either lease or purchase property.

TA again — doesn’t VT help out with such sites?

HR – VT has a program for tanks, but we don’t know what is there or what might have come off tracks. We aren’t asserting property is contaminated but board at the time wasn’t comfortable with the deal.

Mary — my business — the Polka Dot restaurant — down 50% because of lack of parking. Besides that not enough handicapped parking in town. What are we going to do as a community about this?

Sonia Knight – what would you do if you were in our position?

Mary – business is a risk, take the risk

SK – we didn’t want to gamble with your money

Mary – I don’t believe you. You’re sitting with your hands in our pocket and you are going to gamble on the municipal building

AD – we are still negotiating, not sitting on our hands

Bonnie Latham – I still feel that we need an assessment before we purchase the property, it’s not just from the gas station, it could go back 150 years, before any of our memories. Businesses can walk away, municipalities cannot.

Mary – I have one more question. How did the owner have the right to take down the town signs off the poles?

HR – we are aware of the question and are trying not to exacerbate the situation

Mary – up the ticket to $20 instead of $7

Lynn Bohi – list of contaminated sites, it is not on it

AD – nobody knows either way. That list is only for proven sites

Dave Briggs – Lease from Mike Davidson was rejected by town, not by Mike. It’s really just $9,900 and is just a pass-thru. Of the 18000, 5,000 is pass through to the RR. The other 13,000 is his cost on the mortgage. He’s only trying to stay whole for this year. He resisted closing off the lot all winter, but you turned down the lease.

AD – he is not really negotiating

DB – you asked us to bring a lease and we did

AD – we were paying 2500 and now its 18000

DB – it went from 2500 to 5000, 2500 is ancient history

BL – why does the triple net have to go? we’re leasing.

DB – just cause you are leasing those costs don’t go away. He asked for retroactive payments to October

{Wow, I got to say that Dave Briggs just blew the lid off the facts here. Seems like the board didn’t approve a reasonable lease that represented a fair deal.}

Mary’s son Mike Chapman — today was first day I saw someone chalking tires, and we need to fix parking in downtown.

AD – there is a study for realigning parking on Main St

Nelson Fogg of Wilder — I have history with RR, I own bldg on S Main we used to have 30 day leases– would have to move the building on 30 day notice. Bought a lot of the RR land when they sold it. Think about it — when you owned IGA in Wilder, what if someone came and said this parking is no longer yours. Now you are bouncing around the municipal building.

AD – you only have to answer to yourself, we have to answer to all of them.

Clair Lovell – rants a bit about the board dropping the ball.

Chris Sneddon – how much to do the env study (5K – 10K says AD). Pursue angle of trying to push getting the land tested.

Chris Riley – one of the owners of CJ’s Tavern. We’re fairly new. Had my doubts. The parking has been a real kick in the teeth. This is an upcoming area. That’s what this guy saw. We’ll be out of business if this takes a year. The board is not getting the urgency of this.

AD – We didn’t say that. We were talking about the parking alignments on Main st. The situation is controlled by the owner

CR – we had a parking problem before this, now we have a crisis. People park there overnight. You have to deal with the situation. You’re yanking the rug out from underneath us.

Matt Bucy — now the Tip Top lot is being used as a municipal lot. It puts a big burden on the businesses in the TipTop. It’s telling that taking 48 spaces out of downtown creates such a huge problem. My tenants are extremely unhappy. Move as quickly as possible

AD – I’ve had some conversations with people in town — ask employees to park in the VFW / Legion lot. It’ll open 10-12 spaces. We’ll move fast as we can but that would help some.

Tim Johnson WRJ – Sunday I parked at court house. There was a volvo with smashed back window. You guys have to shit or get off the pot. Please put meters out there.

DISMAS houseMarybeth Christie Redmond, Executive Director, presenting: we have a lengthy history in Vermont, flawless record, unanimous support of police chiefs who said the houses have improved public safety in their towns. These people are not sex offenders, or people with recent records. Most are or have been dealing with addiction issues. We’ve never had any crimes against neighbors, robberies, etc. All our existing houses are located near schools and preschools — we’ve never had a problem. Currently there are 133 folks in Hartford unsupported right now — this would dramatically help them. Please feel free to call me (802)-879-8100 or email:

This is the culmination of a 2 year project. She introduces two members local staff and outreach.

Lonnie Jackson – been interesting to watch – restoration. Public notified DISMAS house — since it wasn’t published — to discuss where. This is the first time a correctional facility would be next door to a school. Reading a letter — wanting to hear from all residents and chiefs of police, etc.

AD – Board has no authority over this — it would be vented in the planning and zoning process. Board can’t convene the public meetings you are asking for.

Kathy Janesey — I just found out about this 12 days ago from a call from Marybeth Redmond. Right on property line of the school and next to 4 family unit with 6 kids. My husband was on the selectboard for many years. Idea of building a prison came up. It was all up to Zoning and Planning board. Think of yourselves as first line of defense for this town. They did and they brought it in front of the people. We’re against this being next to a school. These prisoners are furloughed — they will be finishing up to 180 days of their minimum sentences within the house. It will drastically alter the character of our neighborhood.

New org called Citizens of Hartford Alert Committee — you will receive a petition from the community.

AD – Hunter and I get together and put the agenda together. We didn’t have March 29 as a meeting date

Mike of Polka Dot again – 2 years ago I lived in MO, I had 60 employees who were former prisoners. They were 2 most loyal and dedicated. One was 30 and had been in prison for 12 years. Just my personal experience.

Sean Donovan of Dismas house. We were told it would be Mar 28. Subsequently we heard the 29th. Yesterday I heard it was tonight and we rearranged out schedule. We have been meeting with churches for 2 years. We haven’t withheld info. We alerted abutters after we signed the deal. Confusion over date is accidental.

BL – if 5 or 10 years from now your mission changed to allow sex offenders, then….

Redmond — no, no way.

SK – you looked at several locations why take one abutting a school?

Redmond – I understand Cathleen’s contention that she just found out, but we have reached out and they did reach out to the Praise Chapel church but never heard back. There are very few locations in Hartford zoned to allow this type of house. We didn’t know about the day care. There are state agencies willing to invest in this house because of its status now as a VT low income.

SK – college students?

Redmond – there are professional trained staff there, the college students are not there running the place.

SK – I have concern that this is near where kids of people I love go to school.

Jackie Robins – I haven’t received a letter. Kids at Potter House school are afraid and I don’t know how to allay their fears.

Chris Sneddon – school district has no authority on the Potter House school

Jonathan Silvia – I’ve heard misperceptions tonight. I’m in the middle – I’ve been volunteering at Windsor prison, meeting with inmates with substance abuse issues. They are people like you and me. Right now these people are here, and within a stone’s throw of the schools, and they are unsupervised. Tells story of a guy who went to Dismas in Rutland. Where are the facts that Dismas would drastically alter a neighborhood? No, there is no evidence for that in Rutland, Burlington, etc. No foundation of fact. The “alert committee” is a great concept — but let’s have facts, not fear and emotion. Nobody is in this business to destroy a neighborhood. It’s about rehabilitation. It’s about giving a sense of family to people who are hopeless. As a fellow Christian I appreciate the Praise chapel folks and we need dialog.

Karen Pearson – teach at Potter House school. My comment to Mr Silvia is that sometimes we need to clarify the discussion. I personally feel the program is great, and for people getting second and third chances, but it is next to a day care center. I beseech you to look for other options. If we don’t set a standard today who knows what will happen down the road. Things always come in little by little. Who knows what the next thing next to a school will be in 5 years, 10 years.

? Davis – For 20 years I’ve been in the business — I have ex-prisoners working for me. Dismas is a good program. Tony missing the boat here -(Tony: great program, but NIMBY).

AD – Again, board has no jurisdiction. Will be zoning or planning — maybe. But, would the board be willing to use our meeting as a forum to discuss things and bring it to public. Second is Dismas willing to step back 2 wks, 4 wks to talk to neighbors. Would neighbors be willing to sit down? When you are ready we will use board meeting as a forum.

BL – No,.

Mark Donka – No. We don’t have a real say in this.

Sam Romano – I think we are a forum and should be allowed to come in to see us. Dismas has PR problems because neighbors

Redmond – Reason is Twin Pines would not allow us until they had contacted their tenants about their relocation. We’ve been meeting for 2 years with the community. There was never ever an effort to keep this from the community.

Sam R – that is a very good answer. I recommend anyone coming into the town to use selectboard as a forum. Earliest I ever heard of it was at church.

{battery draining..I am going to stop such frequent updates}

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