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Bristol board sets top priorities

BRISTOL — Members of the Bristol selectboard set their top-five priorities for the year ahead.
At Monday’s meeting, selectmen said those priorities are, in no particular order:
•  Push forward the repair and replacement of three town bridges,
•  Conduct a feasibility study for expanding the town’s septic system.
•  Create a development plan for the town-owned land off of Stony Hill Road.
•  Explore options for starter and “down-sizer” homes in the village.
•  Continue to develop short and long-range goals for the police, fire and public safety facilities.
The selectboard divvied up responsibilities among themselves, making Carol Wells the point person for the bridge projects, Alan Huizenga responsible for the septic system expansion, John “Peeker” Heffernan the lead on the Stony Hill development, Sharon Compagna the point person for the starter and down-size home project, and Chairman Joel Bouvier the lead on the public safety facilities.
“We’re trying to keep forward momentum going on the three bridge projects,” said Town Administrator Bill Bryant.
Those reconstruction and replacement projects are: the one-lane “stoplight bridge” on Route 116 South, the South Street Bridge and the Hewitt Street Bridge.
Regarding Bristol’s septic system, Wells said, “Right now we’re adequate for what we have downtown, but if we’re looking in the future and Bristol is to grow and expand, the current septic system isn’t going to be large enough.”
There is a way to double the capacity of the septic system, said Wells, but it would cost $600,000.
“So we have to do a feasibility study to determine if we double the capacity, how many users could we put on and what revenue would those new users generate,” she added.
Another objective for the selectboard is to figure out how to develop the 30-acre plot of town-owned land near Lover’s Lane on the south side of Route 17/116 east of the village. Members of the selectboard feel that the land could serve either commercial or residential interests and might work well as a mixed-use site. Whether or not the town will develop the land itself or sell the land to a developer is still a matter of consideration.
“I don’t think that any of us on the selectboard want to get into the real-estate development business, but the town does own 30 acres of land,” said Wells.
HOUSING OPTIONS
Another issue that the board has identified is that Bristol lacks housing options for young families looking to buy affordable starter homes and mature empty-nesters who are looking to downsize their living space.
“Right now a lot of people are moving to Middlebury because they have more of that type of housing style. We have very few options for down-sizers whose kids have moved away or even for seniors … so the selectboard would love to bring that type of housing to the village,” said Wells.
Planning and building the police department a permanent home and figuring out how to provide the fire department with better facilities are issues that have been on the backburner for almost five years, said Wells. When funding for the storm water and Holley Hall projects became available in the last few years, the public safety facilities got backlogged.
“Now that those two projects have finished, it’s time to bring this project to the forefront … the police definitely need a home,” said Wells. “We’d like to have the police and fire departments in facilities that will meet the needs of the community for the next 50-100 years.”
Also at the meeting selectboard members:
•  Adopted a website policy to satisfy requirements of the e-grant Bristol was awarded by the state of Vermont. The policy explains the purpose of the website is to act as “a source of information about the town’s governmental services … (but) the town does not intend in any manner to create a forum … by which public discourse, exchange of opinion or discussion on issues of any nature may occur.”
The selectboard hopes to make the website more user friendly and add an e-commerce element that would allow residents to pay certain fees and taxes via the web.
•  Were told by Bryant that the town must decide soon if it wants the landfill to enter into the e-waste business.
“Bristol needs to make a decision as to whether it wants to be that type of site and we’re leaning toward not doing that because those services are already offered (in county) by Good Point Recycling and the solid waste district transfer station (both in Middlebury),” he said.
•  Learned the town is in the application process to renew its official downtown designation, which would help with grant applications.
“I’d say our prospects for renewal are good,” said Wells, who is putting together the application. 
•  Decided that the town next winter will not plow Adirondack Way, a private road.
“Basically we were plowing a private driveway,” said Bryant.
•  Met with Gary Kessler, who appeared on behalf of the Green Mountain Stage Race, an annual bicycle race that is slated this year for Sunday, Sep. 4. The race will use local roads, but will be re-routed so that it does not pass through downtown, said Bryant.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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