News

Brandon board to meet in person

BRANDON — After 14 months of virtual public meetings, the selectboard here has voted to resume in-person board meetings at the Brandon Town Hall starting June 14.

The selectboard meetings will start at 7 p.m., as usual, and will held in the downstairs conference room at the Town Hall, just as they were before the pandemic hit in March 2020.

The town will also continue featuring a virtual option for residents who are not yet willing or able to attend the selectboard meetings in person.

Selectman Tim Guiles asked if the town should also require masks for meeting attendees, but after further discussion, it was decided that the board would wait to see what the state’s rapidly-changing gathering guidelines will be come June 14.

Town Manager Dave Atherton said he thought mandating masks would be premature ahead of June 14.

“I suggest we see what the (state) guidelines are when the meeting time comes,” he said. “My only concern is that we’ve been really good about following the guidelines and they’re changing rapidly. I really think we should continue following the Governor’s guidelines.”

The board unanimously approved the motion to resume in-person selectboard meetings while continuing to monitor the governor’s changing social distancing guidelines. As of May 25, new social distancing guidelines allow one unvaccinated person per 50 square feet, plus any number of vaccinated people. There are no longer testing or quarantine requirements for travel, except for international travel. Those not vaccinated are still asked to wear a facemask in indoor public spaces in Vermont.

BROADBAND

The board heard from economic development officer Bill Moore and Justin McCourt of Up and Running IT regarding a plan to install wireless internet in downtown Brandon. The system would utilize seven gateway connectors installed around the downtown that would communicate with a host to transmit the Wifi signal.

But the proposed cost estimate from McCourt of $17,443 made Selectman Tracy Wyman balk at proceeding without more information.

“If we voted tonight, I would vote ‘nay,’” he said.

“I don’t feel like it’s ready,” added Board Chair Seth Hopkins.

“I agree,” Wyman said. “I agree it’s something we need for economic development, but I’m not prepared to vote on it tonight.”

Hopkins said the board would like to follow up with the plan and requested more information regarding funding sources, and ongoing maintenance and carrying costs.

SWAMP LOTS

Two town-owned swamp lots (landlocked parcels containing swamp area) went up for bid last week. The high bidder was H. Chauncey Wallace with a bid of $1,300.

PARKS USE POLICY

The board unanimously approved a new ordinance outlining the use of town-owned public parks and recreational areas. The purpose is “to preserve and protect public property from willful or malicious destruction or defacement: to prevent the theft of public property; and to deter the unapproved or illegal use of public property.”

The parks protected under the ordinance include Central Park, Kennedy Park, Green Park, West Seminary Park, Estabrook Park, and Crescent Park.

New hours of operation have already been approved for Estabrook Park after an abutting neighbor complained about the nighttime events held there over the past year. Under the ordinance for public gatherings, operating hours for all town parks is now 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Those seeking to hold a public event must file an application with the town manager at least 15 days prior to the event. Alcohol is prohibited in all parks unless a caterer’s permit has been approved by the selectboard or town clerk.

Anyone found violating the new ordinance with be fined $500. The waiver penalty for each offense will be $250.

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