The town of Waterbury had a productive meeting on Monday, June 1. After thoughtful discussion, select board members made four important decisions: They appointed a new development review board (DRB) member and alternate, extended the tax due date to November 13, voted to provide full refunds for the summer recreation program and voted to close the Waterbury pool for the summer of 2020.
DEVELOPMENT REVIEW BOARD
With the opening of a DRB position and an alternate DRB position, the board invited Waterbury residents Patrick Farrell and Harry Shepard to speak to their motivations for joining Waterbury’s DRB.
Patrick Farrell spoke first. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Farrell moved to Waterbury after falling in love with its community and businesses. His background is in human resources and chain management. Farrell and his wife both work for the state of Vermont and are active supporters of community and state engagement. For instance, once the couple organized a pub crawl to benefit the Central Vermont Humane Society. Farrell told the board he was ready to take a more formal step toward making a difference in the community, hence his application for the DRB position. “I look at it as a great opportunity to learn about Waterbury,” said Farrell.
When asked about his views on development, Farrell argued for “balance between progress and preservation.” Back in Buffalo, the Farrells had a Walmart and a Wegman’s on their street. “We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It was gross to look at,” said Farrell.
Harry Shepard spoke next. Shepard is also an avid community volunteer, as exemplified by his work in the Waterbury Rotary Club. Shepard is an experienced civil engineer and worked as the Stowe public works director for 10 years. He argued that he could provide value to the Waterbury DRB with his experience and help guide prudent development in the town.
When asked about his views on development, Shepard said he’s a proponent of economic development. “I also recognize that things need to be done with balance,” he said. “I hope to work to avoid the adverse impacts of development.”
When it came time to assign one candidate as the DRB board member and the other as the alternate, Shepard offered to take the alternate position. The board had emphasized that alternates often act as regular committee members and are not passive participants by any means. With that, the board welcomed both Farrell and Shepard to the DRB.
TAX DUE DATE
Normally tax bills go out around July 10, 30 days before the first due date. This year, however, the town pushed the August due date back to November. Given the economic consequences of the coronavirus, the board voted to set a new tax due date for November 13, 2020.
People can still pay their taxes anytime. If people want to pay taxes now, they can prepay. Some board members were concerned with the extra borrowing involved in pushing back the tax deadline. To this, town manager Bill Shepeluk responded, “We’ll be able to manage.”
WATERBURY RECREATION CENTER
The board also voted to provide full refunds to those canceling their children’s participation in the Waterbury Recreation program because of COVID-19. This includes refunds for the Waterbury pool and prorated refunds prior to the start of the recreation program. “Given this reality, it’s really unfair for us to say that we’re not going to give them a full refund,” said Shepeluk.
For those who do not pull their kids out of camp, the summer program will go on. The recreation program received a grant from the state to help pay for extra cleaning materials and rent for new camp spaces. “It’s going to be a little bit of a challenge to run that program, but in general I think it’s something we can do,” said Shepeluk.
The board also voted to close the Waterbury pool for the summer of 2020. “We’re coming up on the time that we’re going to have to put money into the pool. Clean it. Put water in it. Do repairs to it,” Shepeluk said before recommending that the board vote to close the pool. He noted that it would also be hard to find lifeguards and other staffing. “They needed answers about summer jobs last month.” Given these considerations, the board agreed to close the pool.