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Building bridges, both literal and figurative

Warren director of public works Barry Simpson gave an update on the construction status of the Plunkton Road bridge at the most recent Warren Select Board meeting on Tuesday, September 25.

Those driving south where East Warren Road meets Brook Road will notice the big orange signs stating that the bridge on Plunkton Road is currently closed, except to local traffic. So far, the DuBois & King construction crew has installed footings on both sides of the bridge. The next step will be to put up the pedestal walls and pour concrete behind them, and the crew hopes to have rigid frames in place by next Thursday.

But even with all this progress, there is some question as to whether the crew will be able to finish the project before construction season ends. While DuBois & King is contracted to work until November 1, they need to be out of the river by October 15. In short, “They better have good weather,” select board chair Andy Cunningham said.

Construction is also moving forward on the Kingsbury Iron Bridge on Route 100. The plan is to put in a temporary bridge and establish a detour route through it before winter and then start work on concrete abutments for the replacement bridge.

When the Warren Conservation Commission came forward to discuss plans for Eaton Forest, a 114-acre parcel of land just north of Warren Elementary School, the conversation turned towards bridging the communication gap.

The commission proposed its plan to put an easement on Eaton Forest, a 114-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Warren Elementary School that the commission feels could be best protected by the Vermont Land Trust.

Since much of Warren’s forested areas are either federally or privately owned, in putting an easement on Eaton Forest—one of only a few town-owned parcels— “the town would be giving up an asset,” select board member Bob Ackland said.

“I think that the town is pretty good at managing its land, from a conservation standpoint,” Ackland said, questioning whether the easement is necessary. But ultimately, it isn’t up to Ackland, or to the conservation commission or the select board to decide.

Enter George Schenk, a member of the conservation commission. “I don’t want this proposal to be seen as a threat to the authority [of the select board],” Schenk said, explaining that the purpose of the proposal is to open lines of communication between the town and its various committees.

“My commitment to you and to the town is to present this issue in as balanced a way as I am able … because that’s what the public needs to make an informed decision,” Schenk said. And everyone agreed.

While the commission initially hoped to put the issue on the November ballot, “I think this is more of a town meeting thing,” Cunningham said. That way there can be a discussion where townspeople will have an opportunity to familiarize themselves more with the issue as well as provide more nuanced feedback.

The board has yet to set a date for the meeting, which will take place after a site visit to be scheduled with the next couple of weeks.

 

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