By Juliann Phelps
The Monday June 3 Selectboard meeting focused around the Charlotte library addition. After a question and answer session on topics ranging from solar to various construction costs, the Selectboard voted unanimously to approve ReArch as the contractor for the project.
Selectboard member Fritz Tegatz presented the recommendations to the Selectboard, reading a prepared statement outlining the bid process review, sharing a spreadsheet of estimated costs, and going over proposed designs. While only three members of the Selectboard were physically present, Carrie Spear and Louise McCarren dialed in and participated remotely. Library staff and members of the Friends of the Library were also present, along with members of the Energy Committee.
The designs presented by Tegatz noted a change in location of the children’s area, “where there is the most light,” and the removal of the existing driveway to the east. Additionally, the costs for solar panels were removed due to west-facing rooflines in the new design. Tegatz said, “it was almost $100,000 for solar for the building…We decided not to try to force solar in an inefficient manner, just to have it, but to look at it as a whole question as to what you want to accomplish.”
This prompted a robust discussion. Energy Committee member John Quinney said, “The first I knew it that had been taken out was coming to this meeting tonight….I would hope there is an opportunity for someone from the Energy Committee in the next week to meet with library building committee to look at this issue of solar more thoughtfully.” Library Director Margaret Woodruff responded, “The numbers that were offered — no one really knew what they meant. We felt it should be moved down to the bottom [of the spreadsheet] until we had more accurate numbers.” Resident Peter Trono discussed the pros and cons of solar, highlighting the tax benefits and offering an alternative of assigning a solar array account to the library, with the library receiving the energy credit.
Discussion moved to a spreadsheet developed by the library addition working group, which outlined a comparison of bids between the two contractors, ReArch and Breadloaf. Earlier in the meeting, Tegatz noted that the Naylor and Green original design was not chosen due to being the most expensive. The construction and design subtotal from ReArch was $1,063,658 and Breadloaf was $1,052,600. It also included estimated owner costs and solar photovoltaic system as separate line items. With those additional costs added in, ReArch was $1,290,363 and Breadloaf was $1,283,402.
In the prepared statement it was noted, “The proposal approved by the Library Board and Library Building group is from Re Arch. ReArch was originally the least expensive proposal. When analyzed by the proposal review group, the ReArch proposal ended up slightly higher than the Breadloaf, about $7,000, or less than one percent. The lowest proposal was not chosen because the design by ReArch was much better at accomplishing the Library goals and was considered a better value.”
Town Clerk and Treasurer Mary Mead asked, “How on June 10 we will be able have a concrete number and be able to say to the bond bank, ‘This is how much we want to borrow from bond bank because this is how much the library has in funding, and this is our true price?’” She also expressed concerns regarding built-ins and furnishings, saying, “It wasn’t part of what we voted on…clearly furnishings were not included.”
Assistant Town Clerk Christina Booher agreed. She said, “Funds still haven’t been discussed. …There is still no guarantee they are going to get the full amount remaining after we bond.…Who picks up the tab? The town is the one entering the contract. So, you are going to accept a contractor’s bid without actually having the full amount of this bid or pledged from both parties?” Krasnow responded that it would be addressed in the MOA, the next agenda item. However, the agenda item was cancelled with Woodruff noting the library would better prepared to talk in more detail at the June 10 meeting.
Vice Chair Frank Tenney asked about the costs associated with connecting the addition to the existing building. Tegatz responded that the HVAC would be replaced, LED lights installed, along with insulation and carpeting. The discussion wound to a close with Tegatz making the motion to accept ReArch as the contractor (subject to approval of the MOA and contract at a later meeting), seconded by Tenney and unanimously approved 5-0.
During public comment, resident Noah Kolb of Stockbridge Road raised concerns about an abandoned property on his street. He said, “A house has been left abandoned and vacant for at least 10 or 15 years.…It’s starting to pose a public health risk and an environmental problem.”The house, at 102 Stockbridge Road, is owned by Katie Gilley of Boscawen, NH. She bought it from Alexander and Heather Abele for $559,850 on May 9, 2016. Kolb asked that the Selectboard consider drafting and passing an ordinance related to abandoned properties. Three other residents spoke in support: James Parker, Bob Sanders and Chuck Deslauriers. Parker requested, “If we could all raise our hands and show support for this issue,” and approximately 20 people raised their hands. This drew a marked response from the Selectboard. Krasnow agreed to take it up at another meeting and asked that anyone with research or sample ordinances share with Town Administrator Dean Bloch.
Town mowing and brush hogging contracts were re-awarded at the meeting. According to the town administrator’s report, “The contractor that was awarded the contract for mowing trails and brush-hogging town lands (Chris’s Lawncare & Mini Excavating) has indicated that he does not want either contract.” As the only other contractor who bid, the Selectboard approved Mow! Mow! Mow! for mowing town trails. The selected bid is $800 higher the previous contractor’s bid. For the brush hogging contract, the Selectboard motioned and approved Adam Dantzscher. The selected bid is $1,525 more than the previous contractor’s bid. Krasnow said, “From past experience with the first three contractors who submitted the lowest prices, I’ve found Adam Dantzscher’s work to be impeccable, a real attention to detail, and incredible care and attention to the town lands. … Even though he’s not the next lowest bidder, I have full confidence that’s going to be the best value for the town and any additional work is also at a lower price.”
Abby Foulk, Charlotte representative for Chittenden Solid Waste District, presented the results of her food scrap survey, reading an abbreviated version of the results and discussing ideas and challenges of future collection of food scraps. Of the 226 responses, 65% said they were already composting at home. Foulk offered ideas about collection programs as well as an overview of existing fees. In her presentation she noted that household curbside service fees are unknown in Charlotte.
Sarah Reeves, executive director of CSWD presented their FY20 budget to the Selectboard. She reviewed the proposed budget along with high level expenses and revenues, noting an increase in fees across several services. This included resurrecting a $2.00 charge for those bringing recyclables only to the CSWD drop off centers. She spoke of the “likelihood of a [county-wide] bond in about two years or so” for a new sorting facility with the “goal to have our new facility ready at the same time to take advantage of the new capacity.” The Selectboard motioned and approved to support the budget.
In other Selectboard business, the agricultural lease at Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge currently held by Clark Hinsdale, III was amended and assigned to Thomas Cariano for the remainder of the term, ending December 2019. Co-Chairs Jenny Cole and Susan Smith of the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge Oversight Committee were in attendance and supported the recommendation that Cariano become the new lessee. The Selectboard motioned and approved a deadline for signature of the agricultural lease at Thompson’s Point to authorize distribution of the request for bids for town wastewater system maintenance, and a town match for a grant to repair the culvert at 1251 Greenbush Road.
The Selectboard motioned to go into executive session for a litigation issue.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is June 10 at 6 p.m.
Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the owners of the property on Stockbridge Road.