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What’s up with that bridge on Plunkton Road? At the most recent Warren Select Board meeting, which took place on Tuesday, October 9, director of public works Barry Simpson reported reconstruction is “moving right along,” and that everything—besides paving—should be completed in three to four weeks.
When the road re-opens at that time, however, Derry Brooks fears that cars and trucks will travel even faster up and down the hill.
Brooks and her husband, who live just before the bridge on Plunkton Road, attended the meeting to express their concern about the cars and trucks they see drive by at speeds of 50 to 60 mph—sometimes reaching speeds as high as 70 mph—on a road whose speed limit is 40 mph.
“I don’t think 40 mph would be a problem—if people were actually going 40,” board member Anson Montgomery said in agreement, and Brooks fears that speeding will become even more of an issue once the new bridge is complete.
“It will probably become the busiest road in Warren,” Brooks said, “especially once Route 100 is closed [for paving sometime next summer].”
Considering the high number of bicyclists and pedestrians that travel on the road, Brooks asked for some sort of “traffic calming plan” to be put in place. The board agreed to increase law enforcement in the area once the road re-opens to see if there is indeed a speeding problem. If there is, they’ll look into using visual aids (such as narrowing the road lines) to get people to slow down before the bridge. If the board decides to try to lower the speed limit to 35 mph, they will have to hold a public hearing.
Mad River Path makes more comprehensive plans
Will Flender, the director of the Mad River Path Association, also attended the meeting to update the board on the association’s efforts to build a recreational path that runs from Warren to Moretown.
Starting this year, the association hopes to be “more comprehensive” in its plans, Flender said, where before it had accepted parcels of land without necessarily thinking about how they fit into the larger route.
The Mad River Path Association is currently in conversation with landowners about the possibility of putting the path across their land, and based on these conversations it hopes to identify the best route for the path by sometime this spring.
After that, the association will work to secure “better, more stable funding,” Flender said, as the path “may be outgrowing” the money it receives from the recreation district.
State Police says crime is down
Lt. Paul White, of the Vermont State Police, also came before the board to report on crime in the area. “For the most part, things are pretty stable,” White said.
Last year in Warren, police reports indicate that there were only 5 burglaries and 10 larcenies. “It’s really surprising to see those numbers so low,” White said, speculating that the decrease in crime could have had something to do with the disappointing ski season, as most crimes occur up on the mountain.
Unfortunately, “the crimes you’re not seeing here, they’re seeing [in other counties],” White said, and towns east of The Valley, such as Plainfield and Cabot, have seen an increase in crime rates.
Maxine Grad makes introductions
Maxine Grad, one of three candidates running for two representative seats in Washington 7 District of the Vermont Legislature, made her first visit to the select board.
While Grad, a Moretown resident, has served 12 years in the state Legislature, if elected this will be her first time representing Warren in the newly created Washington 7 District, which includes the towns of Warren, Fayston, Waitsfield, Moretown and Duxbury. Previously, Grad represented a district that included Moretown, Northfield and Roxbury.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this new district,” Grad said, explaining the many ways in which The Valley has been her home. Working with less familiar territory, however, will mean changes to Grad’s agenda if she is to best represent the people who live in Warren, many of whom are concerned with curbing the ever-increasing town tax rate.
“I know people who’ve had to leave town, even though they’ve grown up here, because they can’t afford the taxes,” Montgomery said.
“Are you willing to stand up for this issue?” board member Bob Ackland said. “It’s a tall task.”
“I think we need major change,” Grad responded, “and I’m certainly willing to have the conversation.”
Planning commission opposes merger
And lastly, Craig Klofach of the Warren Planning Commission came forward to discuss a proposed merging of the Central VT Regional Planning Commission and the Central VT Economic Development Corporation in order to consolidate resources.
“We are not in support of this merger, and we are trying to restart the process to squash it,” Klofach said. While the merger was proposed as a way to save money, there is no evidence that it will decrease costs in any way.
And while the merger could increase economic development, “it would also increase bureaucracy, and I can’t support that,” board member Matt Groom said.
The board agreed to sign a statement of support for Klofach’s intent to oppose the merger.