Library bond to be lower than expected

LISA SCAGLIOTTI
Correspondent

The Shelburne Selectboard signed off on the final bond amount for the new Pierson Library and historic Town Hall construction project Tuesday night with the total coming in at $5.9 million.

That’s $600,000 less than the $6.5 million voters approved for the project in 2017. Fundraising efforts aimed at lowering the bond added $1 million to the project. The donations helped offset some unanticipated costs in the project as well.

“That’s stupendous,” said board Chair Jerry Storey as Finance Director Peter Frankenburg explained the final steps needed to borrow the remainder of the funds from the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank.

The board voted to authorize $3.9 million on Tuesday. A sum of $2 million was already issued when the project began last year. Depending on the interest rate, Frankenburg estimated that the lower total will mean a savings of $700,000 to $800,000 over the 20-year life of the bond.   

Ruth Hagerman, chair of the library’s trustees, reported on project construction. Slate siding is being installed on the exterior. Inside, wallboard is going up with painting anticipated starting next week, she said.

One sticking point in the project is the contract for solar power. The selectboard delayed action on an agreement that would cover installing solar panels on the roof of the new library, along with a long-term power purchasing agreement for the municipality with the contractor, Bullrock Solar. The board met in executive session to discuss the arrangement but emerged without a final decision. Storey said more work is needed on details and it likely would be on the May 14 board agenda.

Looking ahead to the next potential new municipal construction project, the selectboard signed the purchase and sale legal agreement with Road to Hana doing business as Healthy Living Market. Voters in March approved spending up to $25,000 that would be matched by the Ambulance Fund to study a public-private project to construct a fire and rescue facility alongside a Healthy Living Market. The proposed site is 4.8 acres in the Rice Lumber development at the intersection of Longmeadow Drive and Shelburne Road.

Town Manager Lee Krohn reminded the board that the agreement is not typical.

“It does not actually commit the town to buying the property,” he said. “It commits us to working with Health Living as we’ve already voted … by doing site analysis and site investigation and permitting.”

A steering committee has been formed to work on the details. Should it determine the plans could work, voters would be asked at Town Meeting in March 2020 to consider funding, Krohn noted.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to approve the following:

• A grant agreement providing $80,000 from the town open space fund to The Nature Conservancy to put toward conserving 48-acres of the Ewing farm property near Shelburne Pond.

• A one-year contract renewal with the Montpelier accounting firm Sullivan and Powers to conduct the municipal financial audit this year. The board said it may want to seek bids for this work in 2020. This would be fifth year Sullivan and Powers is handling the audit. The contract is for $23,700.

• A grant application to the Vermont Agency of Transportation for $95,000 to repave Barstow Road.

• Several appointments: Linda Riell to the Social Services Committee; Nick Esposito to the Tree Advisory Committee; Ethics Committee alternates Cate Cross and Pete Gadue to regular members of that committee; Pete Gadue as Deputy Health Officer; town Planning and Zoning Director Dean Pierce to the Chittenden Regional Planning Commission Planning Advisory Committee; and Fire Chief Jerry Ouimet as Fire Warden.

• An updated town Emergency Management Plan which is necessary for a variety of purposes such as applying for emergency management or disaster-related funding. 

The board heard an update from Harbormaster Dan Couture, who explained that new mooring blocks were being installed at Shelburne Bay. The marina has 68 mooring spots with five vacancies currently. Couture said rates would remain the same this season at $650 for Shelburne residents and $850 for non-residents for the year. 

Board members Jaime Heins and Dr. Colleen Parker were absent Tuesday.

In other business, Storey noted that it was Krohn’s one-year anniversary with the town. Krohn was hired as interim town manager in April 2018 and was made the permanent manager in November.

Krohn noted that work to finish the sewer project in the village would resume soon and would require detouring traffic on Falls Road for several days while final connections are made. The impacted roads will also be paved this spring when work is completed.

The board has set May 13 as the date for a board retreat starting at 5:30 p.m. but has not set a location or agenda yet. The annual retreat is an opportunity to discuss goals and broad topics and is a public meeting.

Green Up bags are available at the town clerk’s office, Krohn said. Vermont Green Up Day is May 4.

Finally, the board acting as the Liquor Commission approved liquor licenses for La Villa restaurant.

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