OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
April 26, 2012
Call to Order
The special meeting was called to order at 2:02 PM. Board members in attendance were Lewis Sumner and Edee Edwards. Earl Holtz was absent. Others in attendance were Bob Bass, Christina Moore, William Moore and Jessica Bruno.
At the start of the meeting Sumner, Edwards, Bruno, C Moore and W Moore were present.
Christina Moore wanted to share some information internally:
Culverts and water management structures on class 4 roads are the responsibility of the town. The emergency access on a class 4 road can be the responsibility of the town. Bringing the road up to class is the landowner’s responsibility, and the town has to approve it. With respect to FEMA, they do recognize that doing an emergency repair to a culvert on a class 4 road by the town is acceptable. If the work is done by a homeowner, it is possible for the homeowner to be recognized by the town as a contractor, report that expense to FEMA, and get reimbursed. That’s the interpretation by the State and FEMA supported by Alec Portalupi at VTrans. The precedent in Halifax is one of the key issues here. There was a culvert on Hall road replaced by the homeowner, he rented an excavator, paid for the culvert, received some advice from Brad Rafus and replaced it. Cara Cheyette and Mr. Drummey shared that expense. It is possible for him to submit that to the town, for the town to recognize him as a contractor, and for the town then to submit that to FEMA for reimbursement. If the town chooses to that, there would then be a precedent that future damage, even if not FEMA related, would be the town’s responsibility. That is for the Selectboard to determine, and if you decide that it is the town’s responsibility on Aldrich Road or wherever this may happen to be in the future, then it makes sense to go ahead and recognize the damage on Hall Road.
Edwards would like to have this conversation at a point when the road supervisor can be involved. Edwards also wanted to stress what the intention of the town was at the time this happened. Did we ever have Hall Road in our documentation as a road that needed repair during this whole FEMA thing? If the town incorrectly asked Mike to repair something that we should have done, I think the town should eat it. If the intention of the town at the time was to say, no that’s your responsibility, going back and changing that intention now feels wrong. Their policy should be discussed for what should be done going forward, but Edwards is not aware what the situation was at the time, there was a lot of stuff going on, but if the town took a wrong action here, I don’t feel we should be going through that right now because we have a lot of other stuff going on at this point.
Christina Moore understood this position but wanted to express that we only have our FEMA guy here willing to do work and are on the last few percents of things to be finished and we’re picking up these sorts of things. We lose him next Thursday. We can still open this up at a later date. One of the things you should be asking FEMA today is what is your transition plan when Bob Bass goes? We should however be able to find an answer to this if the town decides to go ahead and reimburse for the Hall Road work. We should be able to apply for the money in the next couple of months.
The next issue Christina Moore brought up is Weir Road. Weir Road is also known as the road to the Wineburgs off of Brook Road. Weir Road is the name found on Google maps and other places. Part of the strategy in the fall when we discovered there was a problem with this was to use the mileage certificate that is submitted in February of each year to the State as a means of communication of ownership of this road. We submitted a mileage certificate on February 20th by fax. The mileage certificate was signed by the Selectboard members, and tried to add 2.49 miles to the class 4 roads in the town. The mileage certificate was sent. There were some handwritten notes unsigned and undated without context or instructions and appear to be in John LaFlamme’s handwriting. It looks like there was an interest in adding Weir Road for 0.15 miles and Sumner Farmhouse road for 0.1 miles. It appears these handwritten notes did not travel to the State. It also appears that the Sara Moulton, part of the mapping unit at the VT Agency of Transportation, was looking for a formal motion, letter, or memorandum- something more formal than a handwritten note. Sarah Moulton wrote the town an e-mail on March 20, 2012 expressing that she needed to double check the mileage as she was coming up with a different total. Her total mileage was 2.24 miles. We’ve asked her to add 2.49 miles. The difference between those two numbers is 0.25 miles. The sum of the two roads we were trying to add (Weir Road and Sumner Farmhouse Road) was 0.25 miles. It appears that she gave us an opportunity to explain the difference, but we didn’t necessarily respond to that. So, Weir Road and Sumner Farmhouse Road with their bridges were not added to the mileage certificate this year. Weir Road’s bridge was recently denied by the State of VT as the town failed to add Weir Road to the town map under two opportunities this Spring. Therefore the State doesn’t see that the town has a lot of interest in adding this bridge.
Edwards responded that she had stated a draft letter to the State apologizing for the delays in their response. The draft letter states that the town of Halifax has 728 residents, an $800k annual budget, $4 million worth of damage, a three person Selectboard, and no town administrator. While we’ve hired a project manager specifically to work on FEMA paperwork, and have made good use of wonderful help from our recently retired 42 year long town clerk, we have clearly not been able to keep up with a full accounting of all of our projects. Despite having regular and special meetings at least weekly, and often 2-3 times per week, we have had to prioritize our town’s many needs at this time. We have been continuously striving to resolve this issue since last fall. If we have somehow failed to provide a complete picture, we will attempt to do so now. Edwards expressed that the e-mail was received a little over a month ago, and for a town that has regular meetings twice per month, this has not been a whole lot of time that has gone by for us to gather all of the necessary information and get it back to them, especially considering we do not have a town administrator. There have been 2 or 3 attempts to gather data and present it. We also had some pushback from FEMA saying the town agreed this was our road but it was after the fact. So, how can the town prove that it owns the road from historical data? We have some map documentation, some maintenance documentation from 2006 including invoices that were in our bridge fund we believe were for that bridge. We can also get affidavits from Brad Rafus and Mrs. Weinberg. We also have the town record of research and documentation, Irene storm documentation which includes historical primary research (personal interviews), and a document from VTrans that captures some preliminary damage. We also have a map from Windham Regional Commission where it clearly shows the bridge marked as something damaged and is a town asset.
Christina Moore expressed that one of the hang-ups with FEMA is that there is a signed bridge report written by VTrans and faxes to the town of Halifax, and signed by a Selectboard member acknowledging this report. One of the issues is that when the report was signed, corrections weren’t noted on there. It says Weinberg bridge is private and is signed and acknowledged. What would have helped is if someone acknowledged the report, but then responded that some of the data may be incorrect.
Bill Moore found the 1981 certificate of highway mileage. In the certificate, it contains record of the town asking for the addition of Weir Road and Sumner Farmhouse Road. It does say provisional on the map. The mileages on this certificate are so close to what we are adding, that it can be stated that in 1981 we made this request, here are the original documents, and you failed to put them on the report. The document was signed by the State. C Moore reported that the recommendation from Bob Fisher, town attorney, was to work with the mapping team to get this put on there.
C Moore reported that there is also a photograph of a plaque on the Sumner Farmhouse Road bridge with the names of the Selectboard members and a date of 1915. The bridges were manufactured by Groton Bridgeworks in Groton, NY. The two bridges were bought at the same time in 1915. Keith Stone has the original plaque from the Weir Road bridge and will try to find the original plaque. Bill Moore excused himself from the rest of the meeting.
C Moore feels it’s time for the Selectboard to step in with a letter like Edwards has drafted to send to Jonathan Croft and Sarah Moulton, and a formal motion by the Selectboard saying what was done and when, and we would like to have it recognized that the Selectboard has made efforts to remedy past inaccuracies etc.
C Moore stressed again that FEMA recognizes that water management on class 4 roads is the town’s responsibility. Edwards asked for the statute so we may site it. C Moore explained that Alec Portolupe said it was in case law.
Edwards will continue to work on the letter to the State and the Selectboard will make the formal motion at next Tuesday’s meeting.
Bob Bass joined the meeting at 2:29pm.
Bass would like to schedule a meeting for next Thursday, May 3, 2012. They will bring Bass’s replacement. They will have to set the time of the meeting at a later date.
Bass reported that the temporary bridge on Green River and Deer Park has been redone with a new CEF and brought more in to line with actual costs. Everyone is in agreement on their end that this is the way to handle it, and this is the cost. Bass has the PW here for the Selectboard to sign. The cost has built in the cost of the installation, the building of the abutments, and the rental and removal of the bridge.
Edwards made a motion to sign the project worksheet for the temporary bridge for Deer Park road with a value of $123,733.60. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 2-0.
C Moore asked Bass if when this gets obligated, can she apply for a progress payment? Bass replied yes.
C Moore provided a project summary for the Selectmen (see attachments below). Anything in green is done and paid. Yellow represents work in progress. White has not been touched but is generally under $20k.
Stowe Mountain Rd- Cat C is in review for obligation (all reviews by FEMA have been done).
Two projects, Amidon Rd and Reed Hill Rd, are pending hydrology studies and cost estimating formats. In places where the town put in a 48” culvert where previously no 48” culvert existed before, the ruling has been a hydrology study is needed. We should see hydrology reports around May 4, 2012. These project were written by Bass but can not be finalized until the hydrology reports come back. If the hydrology report does not support the 48” culvert, FEMA will reimburse the state for the 36” and the only portion Halifax will be responsible for with be the cost difference of the pipe between the 48” and 36” culverts.
Edwards inquired what the hold up is on the Reed Hill and Hale Road bridges? C Moore doesn’t have confirmation that the PW is done and doesn’t have the EMMIE numbers. Bass explained Hale Rd is being written, is 95% done, and will go to Bass. Bass believes it will be about $300k after including guardrails to meet codes and standards, and includes mitigation. C Moore believes Reed Hill bridge should now be coded yellow (in progress) because it has an EAMIE number assigned to it and has a real value. Bass also noted that an extra footer has been added to give that bridge more support- the cost is under the mitigation classification.
Green River Road
Bass reported that he has gone through the hard copy and what’s in EMMIE for Green River Road. C Moore noted that it was originally written for $2.6 million, then had gone back down to $1 million. FEMA has written an amendment #1 for approximately $900k to bring it back up. The project has been stalled for almost two months with nothing happening. Bass has been going back and forth with the reviewer and has been able to explain what has happened to him. The amendment that was written reflects the work that was done. The amendment is a PW that has been written for about $1.9 million. After they deduct what was already paid, it brings it back down to about $900k. The total project is about $1.9 million (which includes the paving). Region 1 wants Bass to number, scan, and re-file the invoices into EMMIE.
Edwards asked whether the Selectboard needs to take any action? C Moore and Bass suggested that the Selectboard acknowledge a change in scope and costs for this project as a motion. They need to draft a request to the State (to Sue Minter) that you have a change in scope and costs, document the cost and reasons for the changes, and ask that it be recovered at closing. Moore provided an e-mail she wrote to Bass documenting the changes (see attachment). The new total for the project is $1,911,974. The group discussed what should be included in the motion and the letter to the State.
Edwards made a motion for Halifax to follow through with a letter to the State to formally request a change in scope for the work and the cost for the Green River Road project. This will bring the project total to approximately $1.990 million. These changes are including those dating back to August 28, 2011, absorbing costs that were mistakenly attributed to a never written category B project for Green River Road. Also including debris removal that was incidental to road reconstruction. An invoice was mistakenly applied to the category A project and never claimed. Also adding direct administrative costs for management of the ongoing work bids and cost recovery. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 2-0.
Edwards will draft the letter and pass to Bruno to review and revise and bring to the meeting May 1, 2012 to sign.
Bass reported that they did get the cat A for Green River for the debris removal for the trees blocking the river flow. It’s in, and has been reviewed and will go on through.
Other FEMA Issues
Bass reported that Halifax is on the NRCS list of towns to assist for the debris removal and bank mitigation. Edwards reiterated the town’s plans to document the problem areas during Green-up Day. C Moore expressed the importance of having photographs with labels.
Edwards inquired what will happen when Bass leaves? Bass explained he is virtually done writing everything up. There will be a few loose ends to tie up, and these will be handled by the project specialist. Edwards inquired who the contact is if there are issues before the payment comes back, and how do we resolve those issues? Bass explained once all of the projects are in the system, use C Moore’s project tracking system to check on things. When you see a delay, contact the State. Bass advised to use Gary Schelley, our representative, as the primary first level contact. Until your projects are obligated, FEMA is your contact. C Moore expressed her concerns with the fact that we have had numerous FEMA contacts and the importance of having one person to count on once Bass leaves to wrap things up. Bass also explained that he has a case management file for our concerns, and our concerns will all be documented there.
Bass expressed that what he has seen Halifax do on their own, with their own road crew, has really been impressive. He is truly amazed that this small crew did all that work. The abutments around the culverts are really impressive- a work of art! The amount and quality of work they accomplished in such a short amount of time is quite impressive. Edwards and Sumner expressed their agreement with Bass’s comments and appreciation of the road crew.
Items to be added to the next agenda (not in order):
-Approval of minutes
-Open bids for the 37 Old North County bridge engineering
-Highway department record keeping
-Weir Road bridge motion and letter to the state
The May 2, 2012 Special Meeting has been rescheduled to April 30, 2012 at 6:30pm.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:13 PM.