Manager’s Message - October 2020
From the Desk of Milton Town Manager Don Turner, Jr.
September has given way to October, and with it come cooler temps and beautiful bursts of autumn foliage. Last month bridged two seasons, and saw our team finishing up some highway projects around town, while preparing for the election and budget season to come.
In early September, the Town clerk staff worked to update our voter list. This involved updating the addresses of community members who moved or passed away. It sounds like a small task, but it involves quite a bit of detective work. Just after Sept. 21, absentee ballots began arriving in Chittenden 10-1 mailboxes –which covers most of Milton. Secretary of State Jim Condos had ballots mailed to all Vermont residents with the goal of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 by minimizing the number in-person voters. However, those who wish to vote in-person, on Election day may do so. Simply bring your unvoted absentee ballot to the poll or, if you don’t have that ballot on hand, sign a sworn statement that you have not already voted.
We’ve already begun to receive voted ballots via the drop-box on the Town Offices and by mail. A quick reminder, please do not use Sharpie to fill out your ballots. Markers bleed through the ballot. Likewise, remember to print and sign your name and town on the outside of the voted ballot envelope. Ballots cannot be counted if they aren’t signed. Additional voting instructions are available on the My Voter website.
We’d like to say a big thank you to our community for keeping up with tax payments despite these challenging times. We anticipated a drop in tax payments compared to this time last year, however we were ahead of last year as of the first suggested payment on Sept. 15.
Your tax dollars will be put to work maintaining all the services you rely on from parks to highways, rescue and more.
Thanks are due to Public Safety Director Michaela Foody and the rest of the team for tracking COVID-19 related expenses and applying FEMA and Vermont Local Government Expense Reimbursement grants.
As folks took to the outdoors to soak up some of the last temperate weather, there was no shortage of work to be done around our town parks. Our new recreation director, Jenna Tucker, has really hit the ground running. Jenna and Assistant Recreation Director Ben Nappi took a two-hour, comprehensive tour of Bombardier Park and River Street Park early in the month.
The duo also virtually attended the 77th annual Vermont Recreation and Parks Conference. They participated in a variety of classes that will hopefully inspire some new approaches to local programming and department management. We’ve also partnered with the Milton Independent and will be writing a weekly column, on Wednesdays, dedicated to the latest news on parks and recreation. Keep a look out for the column on the Milton Independent’s website.
September saw continued work by a group of volunteers who are improving the town’s disc golf course. This dedicated group works most Saturdays in the park and has done an amazing job cleaning up the old course. Other volunteers have met with our team to discuss their interest in expanding Milton’s walking and biking paths. RiseVT met with Jenna and Ben to discuss how they can support the town and provide resources should it move forward with plans to expand the trail network. We’re grateful to have community members who are as passionate and excited about improving the town as we are. We look forward to continuing those discussions.
Our Walking with the Town Manager program resumed in September. I was happy to walk with community members and learn more about how they’ve been getting through these unusual times. I’m looking forward to more great walks to come.
Around town, we wrapped up some road reconstruction projects including the lower section of Poor Farm Road. We completed the Main St gravel path project and installed a bench to be dedicated to the landowner who donated the property for the path. We are currently setting up a preconstruction meeting for the Cherry Street Sidewalk Project which will not be built until spring 2021. The project began in 2014 and will soon be in its final stages. We’re also completing our Route 7 Gap and Streetscape projects, and the Southern Gateway, just ahead of the cold temps. The public works team took last month to begin preparations for when the first snowflakes fly. We’ve pumped more than 150 fire hydrants around the town, stockpiled sand for our roads and set up a new blower on the sidewalk plow to clear leaves and debris from drainage swales. Lots of preparation work remains to be fully ready for winter.
Thanks again to our community for masking up, distancing and washing your hands regularly. We’re so proud to live in a state with such a low transmission rate of COVID-19. However, we must stay vigilant if we are to maintain those numbers. Let’s remember to lend a hand to our neighbors in the many safe and creative ways we’ve uncovered since the start of this pandemic. Together, we’ll get through these troubling times.