To The Editor:

The town of Waitsfield has had a 2-mile town path, some of it dirt and some paved with asphalt for many years. The town never spent more than $8,000-plus per winter season to have it plowed.  The town path was turned into a 2-mile concrete sidewalk and the plowing cost went up to $ 28,500 per winter season.  When I first read about this in the town annual report I brought up this huge increase at Town Meetings. I was told the town put it out to bid for a 5-year term and only got one bid so they had no other option. I was also told at the Town Meeting as well as other Town Meetings that after the five years are up they would attempt to get other bidders.

The five years are up and the town went ahead and at a June 24 meeting agreed to renew for another five years at a small increase which brings the cost up to about $150,000 for the next five years. The select board did not solicit any bids and I was told that because it is considered a service that by law a bid is not required. Required or not, I have continued to question this huge expense and why after all the years that I have brought this up at Town Meeting nothing was done to attempt to find a way to plow the sidewalk at a lower cost. 

If they made a thorough study and found no alternative way to get the job done or put it out to a formal bid and could not find any more bidders, I could understand. But not even trying I consider outrageous.

In the winter of 2009/2010, the University Neighborhood Partnership Committee in the city of Syracuse hired a private contractor to clear snow from 4.75 miles of sidewalk in the Syracuse University neighborhood. For the winter of 2009/2010, the cost of this contract was $10,000 and included up to 26 plow runs. This works out to an average cost of approximately $2,100 per mile per season.  The information from Syracuse comes from the internet.

Michael Sharkey
Waitsfield, Vermont