Town meeting in Castleton hears students

Madeline Ingerson is sick of dusty dirt sifting through her windows. “I can’t sit outside on my patio. I can’t do anything,” the Rice Willis Road resident said, her voice wavering.

Ingerson is one of several residents of the road who showed up at Monday’s Select Board meeting to express frustration with the town’s slow response to repave the now graded dirt road.

Rice Willis Road, located off of Route 30 South and in between South Street and River Street, was paved in August of 2003.

Some say it wasn’t done right.

The road quickly showed signs of distress and broke-up and was graded back to dirt just months later.

Board members are reluctant to jump to repave the road and have history repeat itself.

“If you see some hesitancy,” said James Leamy, the Board’s vice-chairman, “it’s because we don’t want to do it again.”

But residents say they were promised it would be repaved and they want to see some forward action.

“We’re now being told for two years [it would be repaved,]” said resident Pam White. “Yes, we all moved onto a dirt road, but we all cut down trees and prepared for pavement.”

White said she wishes the board would simply be upfront and tell residents whether or not it plans to move forward.

Castleton Town Manager Jon Dodd, who pitched a plan to repave the road at the meeting, was not able to tell White one way or another.

“The board is looking for absolute assurance that road won’t fail, and I cannot give them that,” he said.

“That’s why you hire experts,” said Selectman Joe Bruno, who wants the town manager to solicit bids from private contractors to do the work.

“If we pave it this year and next year it’s the same thing . a lot of mistakes were made on that road, there’s no reason to go back there,” Bruno said.

A motion was passed unanimously for more soil tests to be taken on the road and for Dodd to get estimates from contractors and to repot back at the next meeting.

Preliminary paving plans for the road will be a permanent agenda item until further notice.

“We’re going to be here all summer,” White said.

Prior to the Rice Willis Road debate, Vermont State Representatives Robert Helm and Bill Canfield spoke and received comments from citizens and board members about various state legislative initiatives and updates.

Briefly discussed was the payment in lieu of taxes plan, which provides money to the town for state owned land, like the college campus, in lieu of taxes. Helm said the payments should increase this year.

In other business:

? Town Lister Nancy Trudo spoke about her concerns with the Current Use Program, which gives landowners a tax break for some land, if it’s a farm or sanctuary for example. Trudo feels there’s “something wrong,” that not enough Vermont landowners are in the program and “out of staters shouldn’t suck it all up.”

? Castleton Firefighter Keith Egan praised Rutland Correctional Facility inmates for the good job they’ve done repainting the firehouse.

? The Board voted unanimously to purchase a used Kobelco excavator and a new 2007 International Dump Truck.

? The Board bid farewell to Aramark employee Jeff Cairns, present at the meeting for a catering license, who will not longer be working with Aramark.

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