“No Skateboarding in the Village!”
Aug. 17th Trustee Meeting Rundown
August 20, 2020
Village Trustees met on August 17th to unilaterally revise the draft merger plan, intending to present their version to the Town Selectboard in time for its Thursday meeting.
One issue the Trustees decided to punt until after the merger vote is ordinance reconciliation. Ordinances regulate noise, backyard chickens, firearms discharge, and skateboarding, among other things.
George Tyler tried to illustrate by referring to the latter. “None of you are allowed to skateboard on the Village sidewalks. And I hope you haven’t been.” The Town has no such restriction.
But a quick check with the Village website shows that Essex Junction is less restrictive than Tyler’s comment would indicate. Only sidewalks on a few streets are off-limits to skateboarders.
Besides opining on skateboard allowances, the Trustees weighed in on other topics as they reviewed changes to the draft merger plan that George Tyler had proposed.
Tyler summed up one perspective on the monetary side of the issue: If we’re not merging any finances, what’s the point of merging?
Referring to the 3+3 Charter Change that passed back in March, Raj Chawla claimed, we had this representation thing thrown at us at the last minute.
He also reiterated his frustration that TOV taxpayers have asked: “In exchange for a tax shift, what does the Village give up?” Chawla pointed to the proposed “12-year wait for the tax shift to be complete, and now we’re being asked to accept 3+3 representation. What else can we possibly do? It’s starting to get a little frustrating and hard to explain.”
Andrew Brown acknowledged,. “Where we’re at is not just logic-based. ... We’re talking about the emotional side of things, what makes a Village feel like a Village.”
Dan Kerin recognized “3+3 is what it’s all gonna come down to”. Still, the Trustees inserted a 3-3-1 representation model in their version of the merger charter.
Brown justified that change by alleging that “3-3 wasn’t favorable to HGO or to the Village”. It should be noted that HGO never voted on the charter, nor did the Village. The March vote was townwide, and it passed decisively.
Chawla admitted he’s worried about the “poor singleton” who’d be elected at-large. He appeared to realize the risk that anyone faces in getting elected townwide, as well as then serving among district-based reps.
Brown agreed: “Good luck to whoever’s gonna run for that one seat!”
Despite the vote totals, Chawla concluded that “3-3-1 is closer to what the TOV wants”. Brown, too, claims to know what residents living elsewhere desire: “3-3-1 may be closer to what the TOV thought they wanted”.
Chawla summed up the Village predicament: “I feel like there are a lot of intangibles that the Village residents are nervous about that you can’t put a price tag on. … It’s taken a long time for the Village to get where it is and this quality of life we have here. People are nervous.
"And I think with what’s going on in the TOV and recent attitudes and comments from some -- not everybody, we only hear from a few people at a time -- It is worrisome that we’ll be bypassed.”
Chawla had a last-minute suggestion to add cannabis and tobacco regulations to the charter.
Chawla expressed his pleasure at seeing lots of Village residents attend the meeting: “Normally we see a lot of ...ah... the regulars”.
Chawla continued subtle digs at the TOV. “How about the Trustees hold out as an unelected board and can represent whomever they want?” This was followed by giggles. Then an insincere "sorry".
Brown felt the cursory review that night of substantive changes was sufficient: “I like simpler, easier, faster. We get stuff done faster in the Village.”
The Trustees submitted the amended charter to the Selectboard for review and warned a meeting on Thursday, when they would meet jointly with the Selectboard.