By Lizzy Hewitt, contributing reporter/editor
The path that connects Warren Village to the Brooks Field was once again up for discussion following the select board's receipt of a letter from village resident Beverly Mobus. In her letter, Mobus opposed the town's opinion that the path exists within a public right of way.
Select board members discussed the path that was closed indefinitely by village resident Sue Carter at their August 11 meeting. Carter utilized "no trespassing" signs to close the path that crosses her private property last spring.
Select board chair Burt Bauchner summarized Mobus' letter and discussed the issue with town officials and town attorney Paul Gillies.
Gillies previously wrote an opinion letter that claimed that the path is a public right of way and has been since the 19th century. The path crosses several parcels of privately owned property including Mobus' and Carter's, who both contend that it is not a public right of way.
Select board member Matt Groom said, "If there is a preexisting right of way, which we believe there is, I am committed on behalf of the town to defend that right."
"If, however, we find that we do not have that right, I am not prepared at all to try to take something that is not ours, that is not preexisting," he continued.
Town officials also discussed emergency road repairs undertaken on Roxbury Gap Road following the collapse of a four-foot culvert that resulted in a sinkhole. The select board held an emergency meeting August 4 and decided to replace the collapsed plastic culvert with a five-foot galvanized steel culvert.
The problem was discovered by the town's road crew the week of July 26. Despite the crew's patching, select board members decided the issue required immediate action. It was declared an emergency situation, which allowed the board to spend into a deficit as necessary.
"We felt that our equipment would be near the end of its safe range of operation and that there would be a danger to our personnel, primarily, our equipment, and to the traveling public because we'd have to keep the excavation open for several days," said Burt Bauchner, chair of the select board.
"The road crew, to their credit, was arguing that they could do it and that they should do it," explained Bauchner, "but, in terms of risk analysis, we didn't think it was worthwhile."
Emergency road repair work on Roxbury Gap Road was completed in a single day on Thursday, August 6. The Warren Road Crew worked with Kingsbury Construction in a support capacity.
Details regarding board organization were also carried out. Andrew Cunningham was elected to the position of vice chair. Select board member Erin Russell-Story is resigning from the board. She has accepted a position with the U.S. Department of Energy, which will require her to move to Pennsylvania in September.
Bauchner invited those interested in Russell-Story's position to get in touch with Town Administrator Cindi Hartshorn-Jones at the Warren Municipal Building, or any of the board members for more information.
"We would like to have a full board as soon as possible," he said.
Kirsten Reilly then addressed a complication in the plan to build eight new crosswalks in Warren Village as part of the Safe Routes to School program. The town may need to reconsider the crosswalks plan because of a regulation stipulating that crosswalks must lead to a roadside curb that is at least three feet wide.
Discussion of the proposed pedestrian signs used to mark the new crosswalks followed. There was concern that signs in the middle of the road may cause cars to swerve towards the margin, posing a threat to pedestrians. The town is considering other traffic calming measures but is aware that residents are concerned about too much signage in the village.
The select board also decided to apply for a grant for the Warren Covered Bridge. They had submitted a letter of intent for the application and received permission to proceed. Barry Simpson and Cindi Hartshorn-Jones will work on the application.
As the bridge has been repaired over the years, the two abutments have been moved in, resulting in the narrowing of the river. The grant will fund the replacement of the abutment on the left side of the river and the repositioning of the bridge. These repairs will widen the channel of the river decreasing the likelihood of upstream flooding.