By Lani Duke
Another solar array concern
CLARENDON—Mary and Peter Bride of Clarendon complained to their select board, who agreed to send a letter at its July 27 meeting regarding a solar array proposed by Suncommon, which would abut their property on Middle Road. The Brides claim it would decrease property value, create unknown health risks, alter views, and cause a permanent change in living conditions. Mary Bride also said she is concerned that the solar field may endanger wildlife and questions whether the used panels can be disposed of safely.
Others in the community also expressed disapproval; so did the selectmen, who agreed to send a letter to the Public Service Board stating that they oppose the solar array. Attendees also expressed concern about more than property values. Both Jason Walker and Karen Ryer said they believe the panels may damage hearing with their constant humming sound.
WALLINGFORD—The town of Wallingford recently contracted with Brown’s Hardwoods of White River Junction to refinish some floors on the first and second story of the town hall and on the stage. Project cost is $9,840, with $2,375 contributed by the Chipman Masonic Lodge #52, which uses the second floor. Other second-floor users are the Wallingford Historical Society and the Wallingford Alumni Association. Most of the funding comes from rent paid to use a cell tower at the town hall. Previously money from that fund has already paid to upgrade the town garage and the town hall elevator, giving the building handicapped accessibility. The next project on the town’s list is replacing the town hall’s windows. Much of that will likely be funded by a historical preservation grant.
Rutland Town makes improvements
Rutland Town has been in accomplishment-mode for quite some time. Recently completed is a new, state-of-the-art fire station. A highway garage is in the works. The transfer station is being upgraded and the town will be asked to approve a new trash compactor in a special vote Aug. 25. Selectman Don Chioffi touts the recreation opportunities offered by his community: two soccer fields, a baseball field, Little League field, tennis courts, basketball courts, and Northwood Pool at Northwood Park; and Dewey Field’s Delbianco Park in Center Rutland, with tennis courts, basketball courts, and a small playground.
Rutland Town is applying for funds to construct a new pedestrian and bike path connecting Post Road and Northwood Park to the school, using an Agency of Transportation grant for $820,104, or 90 percent of project cost. Safety is the goal, providing an alternative walkway and bike path to the school, vet clinic, and Green Mountain Power as well as recreation. The current sidewalk between Post Road and Rutland Town School would be extended up Chasanna Drive to Sanborn Place, across private property and into Northwood Park, totaling 1,800 feet of new sidewalk and 1,500 feet of shared-use path.
There is a lot to praise in this small community, pop. 4,000, that surrounds the City of Rutland.
All is not happy and peaceful in Rutland Town, though. The Select Board recently enacted an ordinance that is sure to irritate some of the community’s residents. In early June, a unanimous vote amended a standing ordinance on leash laws. Up until the new ordinance, dogs in Northwood Park could play in Northwood Park as long as they were under “verbal control” of owner or keeper. Now all dogs must be leashed. People out walking with their animals and not picking up after them, has been part of the problem. But there was also a safety concern. According to selectman John Paul Faignant, the board wanted to minimize potentially dangerous encounters, saying that use of a leash gives park users “a certain amount of protection and predictability.”
Do park users agree on this need? When Norma Levy tried to gather support for putting the leash law on the Aug. 25 special ballot, her petition signature drive fell flat. She collected only 32 signatures, about 1 percent of registered voters, far fewer than the necessary 135 (5 percent of 2,700 voters).
Fluoride in the water: to add or not to add?
The question of whether or not to continue to add fluoride to the city’s water supply is coming under discussion again. Rutland Fluoride Action plans to pass out information pamphlets and start conversations during the upcoming Friday night gatherings downtown, according to organization founder Jack Crowther. His group plans to gather signatures this fall to place the question on the March Town Meeting ballot. The requisite number of signatures to place the issue before the voters is 500, but Crowther plans to over-perform, setting a goal of 800.
Proponents of the substance cite studies indicating it toughens the outer layers of teeth, preventing tooth decay. Detractors are concerned that it may cause serious crippling bone disease, lower intelligence, increase the risk of cancer, or impede thyroid function.
Rutland voters have gone back and forth on whether or not the city’s water should contain fluoride since the 1970s. Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wennberg says he could order it removed, but has not done so yet and is unlikely to make that move unless there is overwhelming evidence (or public demand) to do so.