This article first appeared in the February 2nd, 2012 edition of the Vermont Standard.
By Audrey Richardson
Special To The Standard
HARTLAND — After acquiring over $600,000 worth in monies which were placed in the Capitol Reserve Fund, the town of Hartland has worked hard to make good use of the funds. In August the town created a Hartland Capitol Reserve Fund Committee including Pat Richardson, Roger Shepard, Doug Linnell, Linda Genovese, Ray Bushey, Mike Heaney and Les Motschman. The Committee will report on the progress of the fun in March at the Town meeting. Together this group painstakingly decided how to allocate the money in the fund asking for submissions and requests from other townspeople. Submissions for projects were due to the town by September 30 and not long after, work began on the approved projects. Out of the dozen requests and submissions approximately seven projects made the cut. As Town Meeting day approaches, the Town of Hartland has completed most of the projects it set out to accomplish.
With the money in the fund, the committee decided to do a variety of small and large projects. The committee first focused on implementing architectural plans for Damon hall and all though this item is not yet completed, town manager Bob Stacey expects its completion by Town Meeting day. There were a number of other allocations for Damon Hall including a new $9,000 sound system, as well as replacing the building’s boiler. Other completed tasks included creating a walking path at the Hartland Recreation Center, sending $50,000 to the Hartland Conservation fund, investing $16,000 on a new playground at Currier Park and some handicap assessable updates to the Hartland Public Library as well as the construction of a meeting room in the library.
One project still at large and waiting for state grant money, is a study of the Three Corners intersection. According to Stacey there are reconstruction study requests that date back to 1957, yet no changes have ever been made. “We would like to make Three Corners more pedestrian safe,” said Stacey. Stacey estimates that the project will cost nearly $30,000, but with an enhancement grant from the state for $.24,000 the study should cost the town only $6,000. The town hopes to get this study underway by this summer. “There have been discussions about this for years, but we just haven’t been able to coordinate with the state,” said Stacey about the issue. State involvement in the issue is imperative as three fourths of the intersection belongs to the state.
For those wondering where the generous pool of money came from, there are actually a number of different sources for the Town’s spring of wealth. According to Stacey the town received part from a tax sale settlement when the generating facility for the North Hartland Dam, Vermont Electric Coop, went bankrupt. The town received $300,000 in the settlement. The town of Hartland put half of the settlement money in the highway fund. The second chunk of the Reserve Fund money was a result of a class action suit against gasoline producers using MBTE octane improvers. The suit sprouted from a 1997 oil spill on the Quechee Road in Hartland. The fund has also benefited from the interest gain on all entered monies.
The committee plans to report on the progress of all allocations at the Town Meeting in March. “Of Course you always expect things to go well and there are no real controversial topics this year,” Said Stacey about the upcoming town meeting.