It is hard to believe another September has come to its close. The start of fall heralds the conclusion of summer projects and the beginning of budget planning and preparation for winter operations. It’s been a productive, transitional time around town.
We were eager to have two new municipal staff members join the team last month: Library Director, Matthew Davis, and Executive Assistant to the Town Manager, Brittany Tradup. Matthew began on Sept. 7 and has been a great addition to our library team. We look forward to officially welcoming Brittany when she begins her role this November.
On September 14th we hosted two promoting dignity and addressing bias in the workplace training sessions. Staff, board/commission members and elected officials, attended these two-hour sessions. We plan to offer another session in the coming months for those that were not able to attend. The Town is committed to ensuring that everyone that lives in this community feels like they belong in this community.
In the Treasurer’s Office John and Shannon helped coordinate water shut offs in September. We’re happy to say most of the effected properties had water restored by the end of the month. Town Clerk Kristin Beers continues to refine the 2021 Biennial Voter Checklist. The work included mailing letters to 120 voters to verify their residency. It’s a big undertaking, but an important part of our democratic process. In addition, September proved to be an opportune time for our team to continue working on a searchable online system for the town cemeteries. The new system maps out plots to help families find the resting places of their loved ones.
The Town Offices remain open to the public. However, we continue to monitor and follow the daily guidance of the Vermont Department of Health pertaining to the recent spike in COVID cases. Masks are currently being recommended inside the building but not required. The safety of staff and public is of utmost importance to me as the temperatures drop and we begin preparing for winter.
Just outside the town offices, we installed a Municipal Rain Garden. Kirsten Jensen Public Works Engineer designed the project. This culminates weeks of planning, design work and conversations with local experts. It was aided by our highway crew – who dug the garden for us and added a large accent rock - and numerous volunteers who helped with planting and mulching efforts. The new garden will remove excess nutrients such as phosphorus from runoff and provide a haven for pollinators.
Our parks saw continued facility rentals in September, as well as repairs to the tennis court fencing and gates. The excitement and happy chatter of summer campers may be gone but were pleased to tally the impact of the Summer Matters for All Grant. All told, the funds helped us provide 10 weeks of day camp and 12 specialty camps; offer early and late care options for campers; provide transportation to camp for 11 kids; and host four performers in partnership with the library. It was a wonderful summer and we’re eager to make preparations for next year. In the meantime, Recreation has been focused on planning fall/winter programs and events – including the grand opening of our disc golf course on Oct. 10. Please plan to join us.
Milton Police responded to more than 500 calls in September. The department held several trainings including review of the state’s new use of force policy. Officers Raymond, Jones, Noel and Detective Hendry participated in the torch run, last month. The run is an annual event that raises funds for the Special Olympics.
Public Works last month started the transition between summer and winter operations. The team changed street signs, graded dirt roads, removed low-hanging tree limbs, conducted roadside mowing, flushed hydrants, and more. Water samples continued to meet high standards in September and the pump stations ran like a charm. I’m happy to say that the recently completed Cherry Street Sidewalk project came in under budget. Residents who would like to keep up with our latest efforts can check out the new “Public Works Ongoing Projects Page.” The page is available on our town website and offers an interactive map of current and recently completed projects.
Our Highway team hosted an open house at the Highway Garage last month to share the need for a new space. In 2019, the Selectboard formed a committee to study replacing this outdated facility. A new facility would house all highway and buildings/grounds department equipment, inventory, maintenance equipment in one facility versus the two we currently utilize. The committee presented a final report to the Selectboard in 2020. The committee worked to determine the needs of the highway department well into the future. It was essential to understand what size facility is needed, where it should be located and what amenities need be incorporated to serve our community for the next fifty years. Realizing this would be a large structure, cost and managing the financial impact on taxpayers is of utmost importance. The committee visited recently constructed public works facilities in other local communities to assist with developing a floor plan that would work for Milton. They then focused on a finding a suitable location. First exploring all town owned land to try to keep the project costs down. Unfortunately, none of the town owned parcels were deemed suitable for various reasons. Some parcels were not centrally located and the cost to develop would be very costly. Others eliminated had potential negative impacts on natural resources or neighboring uses such as recreation facilities and higher populated residential areas. Focus then turned to privately owned parcels. The committee identified a list of suitable properties and I am happy to report, after Selectboard approval the town has a tentative understanding to acquire the committee’s top location. This 6.7 acre parcel is being donated by a private landowner and is currently being subdivided from a larger parcel located adjacent to the municipal complex. Ownership will be transferred to the town upon completion of the subdivision. Over the next several months, we will continue to finalize plans, outline a cost effective financing plan, determine the actual cost to taxpayers and bring a thoughtful proposal to voters on Town Meeting in March 2022. We would intend to leverage as many cost saving measures as possible to help facilitate the project. We encourage residents to learn more about the proposal on our website, and to contact us with questions.
As we enter budget season, we encourage residents to stay informed and reach out with questions. We look forward to continue bettering our town and appreciate the community’s support.