By Chase McGuire
The Selectboard meeting on June 29 confronted decisions addressing changes in hours and pay rates for town employees for fiscal year 2021, reopening the Town Offices, requesting bids for the Town Link Trail, and an update on safe recreation in the heart of a pandemic.
In the discussion of town employee pay rates for FY21, the board approved a change in the tech librarian’s hours from 27 to 30 per week and also approved a 1.4% cost of living increase for all employees. The salary increase specifically for the assistant town clerk/treasurer position will be discussed at the next Selectboard meeting.
Considering the current COVID-19 status in Vermont, Selectboard member Louise McCarren motioned that the Selectboard start developing a plan to open Town Hall with proper safety precautions, by working with Town Administrator Dean Bloch and Town Clerk/Treasurer Mary Mead in order to comply with a memo from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The memo describes safety precautions that require employees to sanitize common surfaces three times within eight-hour periods, prop open interior doors or include the use of “foot pulls” that allow doors to be operated with the foot, requiring all employees and patrons to wear face coverings while in the presence of others, and to log contact information for contact tracing via a Google form. Non-contact temperature evaluation is ideal for most situations, and patrons should expect to be asked to take their temperatures. Employees will be asked to stay home if exhibiting any symptoms, including a fever, and are expected to monitor their temperature before coming into work.
The Selectboard discussed fielding bids to update the State Park Road section of the Town Link Trail. The work done would include replacing and adding additional guardrails to separate the road from the trail and possibly widening the trail for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, as State Park Road is often travelled at a high rate of speed. No formal decisions were made, and it was decided that the issue needed its own separate Zoom meeting as the original plan had been altered.
With over 700 beach passes sold so far this summer, it is clear that this is a hot spot for gathering. “There must have been 50 people with very, very loud music, absolutely no social distancing, lots of dancing, with a big fire… no one could have had a quiet moment,” said Louise McCarren during the meeting. “All these little kids were just willy nilly walking across the road.” This brought to question the role of the beach attendants, predominantly high school students, and the extent to which they are expected to enforce regulations and intervene in situations such as this.
“If someone’s enjoyment of the beach is being limited by the expression of another group, that group should be made aware that they are imposing upon the general welfare of other people, and I would have no issue at all making that request in a very polite but definitive way,” said Bill Fraser-Harris. “The beach is on the police nightly rounds…we should have no problem calling the non-emergency number.”
The playground will open with multiple safety precautions such as hand-sanitizing stations as well as signs clearly stating the risk that one is taking by using the equipment. This was passed 5-0.
Chase McGuire is a University of Vermont student journalist who is working with The Charlotte News this summer through the university’s Community News Group program.