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Packed Agenda Falls Victim to the Clock

9/24/20 Trustee Meeting Rundown

by Ken Signorello

September 25, 2020

Tree Farm Recreational Facility
Jake Hennekey, President of Tree Farm Management Group, requested policy changes and / or enforcement at the Tree Farm complex, which his group oversees. Tree Farm is a 99-acre outdoor soccer facility that straddles the Village line. It’s accessible via Old Colchester Road as well as a footpath from Autumn Pond Way.


Two primary problems are dogs soiling the premises and people using the fields without reservations ( The Trustees made no decisions, needing more information.


Unified Manager Evan Teich and former Selectboard Chair Irene Wrenner provided some background. The TFMG has operated this facility since 2002; its 10-year contract was last renewed in 2011. In the winter of 2009-10, voters approved acquiring this parcel from the State, sharing ownership equally between the Town and Village governments. 


Raj Chawla thought, long-term, some of its acreage should be set aside for other recreation needs, including a dog park north of the Five Corners. “The Village is growing, infill is happening, a lot has changed since 2002, 2011. If this agreement is up in a year and needs to be renewed, there may be some things we need to look at, like parceling off portions to increase park space for areas of the village that are growing.”


EJRP Director Brad Luck noted that in pending revisions to the Village/Town ordinances, the Tree Farm is listed as a public park.


Grant for Pocket Park 

The planned park at 1 Main Street moved forward with the Trustees’ approval of a site plan.  Community Development Director Robin Pierce has researched pocket parks around the world, including a visit to one in Amsterdam. He says the best designs have three things in common: Pavers, Trees and Water. His plan has all three. 


Ideas offered by the public from the Charette held on August 15th were incorporated. 

For some reason, the species of trees — all seven of them — became a lengthy conversation.  The plan calls for disease-resistant elms. But members also suggested honey locusts and evergreens. In the end, we’ll have to see which species takes root in this brownfield.

As for the hardscape, bricks will harken to the Drury Company’s legacy and rails will honor the trains that still pass through this Junction. A small wall of water will be potable for dogs.  Other features include bluestone pavers, backless benches, and a raised platform suitable for performers. The plan was unanimously approved. 

Request to Waive Political Sign Ordinance

At a prior meeting, Town resident Brian Shelden requested the Village allow campaign signs on Village Property and rights of way for the two weeks before the November vote. He also noted some inconsistency with sign removal by the highway crew during the recent primary season. 


For a variety of reasons, members weren’t eager to waive existing restrictions. Unified Manager Teich promised that more attention will be paid to removing signs from the ROW consistently, although at times it’s difficult to determine who owns the land beneath.

Town Charter Language Finalized

President Andrew Brown said the Village offered 22 charter items that the Selectboard was welcome to change at its most recent meeting. 


These items included the length of term for Planning Commissioners. Another change the Village suggested was removing language around Cannabis regulation. The Selectboard concurred, but because the Village inserted it originally and then suggested its removal, we hope this was not counted as one of the 22 sacrifices. 


All the changes the Selectboard requested — except for equal representation! — were agreed to by the Trustees. 


The Charter language must be ready in a week to meet statutory deadlines. The final document will be about 20 pages long.  George Tyler, commenting on the length of the current draft -- for which he’s largely responsible -- quipped, “I thought we were going for brevity here”. 

Public Hearings

There are two public hearings on the merger charter planned for October 13th and 27th. 


Information Distribution

Up to $8,000 has been approved to inform Village voters about the merger vote via a Power Point presentation, a printed FAQ, and a 4- to 5-minute video, complete with drone footage. A large part of the expense will be for mailings.  


Ballots to be Mailed to All Active Voters

The merger question and an additional question on changing the format of the Village Annual Meeting were warned for a November 3rd Village-only Australian ballot. Ballots will be mailed on October 7.


$20K Grant to Digitize Municipal Records

A state grant of $20,000 was readily accepted to digitize municipal records. The Town received a similar amount. These funds are made available through Act 137 of 2020, Coronavirus Relief Funds.


With two significant items left on the agenda and the hour growing late, the Flags and Murals policy (third time on the board agenda) and a review of the Village Mission Statement were both tabled.


In closing comments, Trustee Raj Chawla noted the Equity and Justice Sessions for municipal employees and elected officials have been ongoing. “Our board made quite a bit of hay out of not being invited to the Police Listening Sessions as participants. We haven’t had great board participation at these Monday sessions.” One session remains. He hopes his peers can attend the last one and then revisit this flag / mural policy.


Pocket Park Design, 1 Main Street

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