Friday, May 02, 2014


News to Know April 24, 2014

BERLIN NEWS TO KNOW  April 24, 2014

This  communication is put together and distributed on a volunteer basis by resident Corinne Stridsberg simply in an effort to share information and build community, it is not from the town of Berlin.
Please share this with your Berlin friends and neighbors.  If you're not already receiving this news directly by email, send an email to request this to
Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook to find bits of current news, some not included here:

YARD SALES!!  Doesn't that bring warm summer thoughts to mind?!  The one on Saturday below is indoors so no matter what the weather you'll be set.

Please continue to share with friends and neighbors that there is now the Berlin Resource Line to call and hear a recorded message which is updated on Fridays with information about meetings, events, deadlines, etc.  552-8805

Included below please find:

First Presbyterian Church indoor yard sale on Saturday, April 26th 9am - 3pm.  Address: 19 Seminary St, Barre.  You'll find jewelry, furniture, puzzles, crafts, and much, much more including a food table
There is a multi-family yard sale at the top of West Hill Road in West Berlin on Saturday, May 10th 9am - 5pm.  You'll find small appliances, kitchen items, lots of furniture, tires, bikes, and more.
Pills and capsules that are unused or expired can be turned in for safe, free, and anonymous disposal.  Keep kids safe!  10am - 2pm at collection sites including Kinney Drugs in Berlin; Washington County Sheriff's Dept on Elm St in Montpelier; Northfield Police Dept; and Barre City Police Dept.
Monday, April 28th at 6:15pm there is a special Berlin Elementary School Board meeting with two items on the agenda, to appoint principal and for the board core value discussion.
On the school website there is a link for a PowerPoint presentation that was made which includes demographic information, assessment scores, and behavior data.
Wednesday, April 30th 7pm is the April meeting of the Berlin Historical Society at the Berlin Town Office.  The agenda includes a review of Berlin Schools and the history of current school, planning for the May 21st potluck dinner meeting which will include a presentation on the dynamite shack explosion on Benjamin Falls Hill in 1932; and planning for the Vermont History Expo presentation in Tunbridge June 21st and 22nd.
Register by 4/25/14 with the workshop held on Wed. 5/21/14
The UVM Extension Service registration is due on Friday, April 25th at the UVM Ext. Office at 617 Comstock Rd in Berlin.  You don't need to have a large space to garden in, just a small plot will do or many vegetables can be grown in containers. 
Wednesday, May 21st at 5:30pm will be the "Plant Your Garden" workshop at Berlin Elementary School where kids will receive free seeds and plants and attend workshops.  
For further information call the UVM Extension service at 223-2389 x205 between 8am and 4:30pm.  You can find the brochure/registration form at:
Saturday, May 3rd is Green Up Day and once again Twin City Subaru at 142 Berlin Mall Road is the official bag pick-up and drop-off location.  Stop by any time during their open business hours to pick up bags.  The day of Green Up free food & refreshments for all volunteers from about 9am to 3pm.  Small “Green Up Day Goodies” will also be free while supplies last.  They will have a bottle drive fundraiser for the American Center Society’s Relay for Life of Central VT if you care to bring in your returnables and they may also have a car wash fundraiser that day for the same cause.  Besides bringing your Green Up trash to Twin City Subaru, you can also leave your Green Up bags by the road for the town crew to pick up.  Please be sure to wear gloves and work boots or sturdy shoes. You can call Twin City Subaru at 223-5232 if you have questions.
What a perfect day to hold a Spaghetti Dinner, Saturday, May 3rd.   Make your reservations now as these events often sell out.   First Congregational Church 1808 Scott Hill Road.  Seatings at 5pm and 6:30pm.  Takeout available.  $10 adults; $5 ages 7-12; age 6 & under free.  Call Ellen at 229-4042 or email Menu - spaghetti & meatballs, salad, French bread, dessert, and beverage.  Bring a friend and join your neighbors for some good fellowship.
A youth chess club continues to take place at Kellogg-Hubbard Library Wednesdays 5:30pm - 7pm.  Call Robert Nichols for info, 229-1207
The State of Vermont is conducting a catastrophic disaster exercise the first week of June and volunteer actors are needed to play the injured and those needing shelter.  The VT Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security needs more than 200 people to fill these roles.  Locations include Berlin, Barre, and other towns.  You'll be given instructions and asked to act accordingly.  Must be over 18, over 16 with parent's permission, or any age accompanied by an adult.  To volunteer email Richard Cogliano at VT DEMHS
Pub. 4/24/14 Times Argus by David Delcore
   BERLIN — A letter won’t be written, an agreement won’t be signed, and the “No trespassing” signs on a small town-owned property on Berlin Pond aren’t going anywhere. At least not yet.
   After nearly an hour of discussion touching on three pond-related issues, and despite the urging of some residents, the Select Board couldn’t settle any of them this week.
   Two motions died for lack of a second Monday night. One of them called for a letter expressing the town’s concern over a recently filed petition that seeks to restore a ban on recreational use of the pond; the other was to take down the “No trespassing” signs on the town-owned parcel on Paine Turnpike South.
   The only pond-related motion that passed was one to table action on an agreement with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife involving an access area that has been proposed for a separate pond parcel believed to be owned by the town.
   On a night when two of the board’s five members — Brad Towne and Roberta Haskin — were absent, much of the discussion about the pond focused on whether the town should take a forceful and formal position on the petition filed with the state Agency of Natural Resources by the group Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond.
   The group has asked the agency to reinstate long-standing recreational restrictions that the Vermont Supreme Court unanimously struck down two years ago next month. Essentially, the court concluded that the state — not the city of Montpelier — owns and controls the pond that serves as the Capital City’s public drinking water supply.
   In the wake of that ruling, 
Berlin voters overwhelmingly approved a nonbinding resolution that has been widely interpreted as supporting public access to the pond, though its language specifically referred to the Paine Turnpike South property that remains posted 18 months later.
   Bob Wernecke kicked off Monday’s discussion. He is chairman of the committee the board appointed to explore the creation of a formal access area to the pond — a search that started on Paine Turnpike South and then quickly shifted to property near the junction of Paine Turnpike South and Brookfield Road.
   Wernecke said he was troubled by the group’s call for a moratorium on recreational use of the pond and urged the board to “take a leadership role” on behalf of town residents by writing a letter opposing the petition to ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz and Gov. Peter Shumlin.
   The message, Wernecke said, was reflected in the lopsided result of the referendum.
   “The large majority of Berliners favor access to Berlin Pond, and … we have, in fact, worked in good faith with the Agency of Natural Resources … to develop this access,” he said.
   With the Montpelier City Council voting last week to send a letter supporting the group’s petition, Wernecke said it was incumbent on the board to clearly speak for the town.
   “Counter this constant request to ‘stop everything’ and ignore the fact that we’ve been moving forward for some time and we have the support of the voters of the town of 
Berlin,” he said.
   It got muddled from there as the board heard from a member of its Conservation Committee, the Barre lawyer who prevailed in the Supreme Court case, a representative of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the head of the Vermont Traditions Coalition, and a few other residents.
   No one indicated support of the group’s petition.
   “I’m not against access,” said Conservation Commission member Tom Willard. “But the issue here is the proposed access at the north end of the pond sends all of the traffic through what some people are saying is a Class 1 wetland of regional, if not national, importance.”
   According to Willard, the nesting habits and migratory patterns of waterfowl could be worked around if the town retained control of the proposed access, instead of accepting the state’s offer to develop and manage it.
   Willard did say he believed an independent environmental analysis should be conducted before any decisions are made.
   “Let’s base it on science,” he said.
   Mike Wichrowski, of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the area tentatively targeted as a possible access for canoes and kayaks is next to an existing parking area near the junction of two town roads and a stone’s throw from Interstate 89.
   “Berlin Pond is not ‘pristine,’” Wichrowski said. “There’s lots of road, the interstate is there. That corner is just such a confluence of human disturbance that critters that are going to stay there … (are) pretty used to humans.”
   One resident said loons successfully nested on Berlin Pond last year — something of a rarity — despite the fact it had been open to recreational use for more than a year.
   “That kind of flies in the face of that argument,” Nate Smead said.
   Board members also heard from Barre lawyer Oreste Valsangiacomo Jr., who said he believed the chances of the group’s petition being granted were virtually none based a legal requirement to demonstrate “dispersed, low-impact, nonmotorized recreational use” of the pond represents “a public health hazard or a significant public health risk.”
   “That’s the standard,” he said, noting the court concluded that “the Agency of Natural Resources has not found an instance where human activity within the watershed of a public water supply is a public health hazard or a significant public health risk.”
   Steve McLeod, of the Vermont Traditions Coalition, joined the calls for the board to oppose Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond’s request.
   “I think it would be a shame if folks who are opposed to the meaningful access being built on the pond would be able to take the decision out of the hands of the voters of Berlin by … looking to endless sources besides the Fish and Wildlife Department and the Agency of Natural Resources who are the clear experts here,” he said.
   Pete Kelley made the unseconded motions that the board authorize Wernecke to draft a letter and that the town remove its signs from the parcel on Paine Turnpike South.
   Chairman Ture Nelson later suggested both issues would be back before the board when it meets in two weeks. That is when the board is expected to take up a proposed agreement with the Department of Fish and Wildlife that has been waiting to be signed for months.
   Nelson said he supported the agreement in concept but had lingering concerns and was not prepared to vote on it Monday night.
   The state has essentially offered to cover 50 percent of the cost of title and survey work — that share is estimated to be $6,000 — and, provided the town does own the property, enter into a lease to develop and manage a suitable access area. The state would pay for obtaining permits and developing the access, according to Wichrowski.
   “Let’s sign it, let’s move forward, and if something happens then we’re each splitting the cost,” Wichrowski said. “I think that’s the best we can offer.”
   The town has already incurred roughly $5,500 in legal bills and deed research associated with the property and has been told a formal survey will cost roughly $6,500.
   Kelley worried aloud that the costs have started to creep up, and Nelson expressed concern about the town’s financial exposure if the access proposal unravels.
   “I don’t want to be the one that’s left holding the bag if this doesn’t go the way I want to see it go,” he said.
   One resident argued that was all the more reason for the town to sign the agreement and commit the state to its 50 percent pledge.
   “You guys had a couple (of) opportunities to support the will of your constituents and collectively have not done so,” he said. “I see this as another opportunity to do that and to make certain that … you will not be stuck with that entire burden.”
   The board agreed to postpone action on the agreement until its next meeting.
Below is a recent post .... there have been many more about a variety of topics, looking for services, garage sales, meeting announcements, events, etc.  Membership is free - to join go to:

Posted April 19th Issue No. 332

Notes from April 7 Selectboard Meeting

Jeremy Hansen • Selectboard MemberBerlin 
Posted to: Berlin
Here's my summary of the well-attended April 7th Berlin Selectboard meeting. Thanks to all of you who showed up!
1) Treasurer pay
As her probation period had ended and in accordance with the agreement we came to upon her hiring, our Town Treasurer Diane Isabelle received a $1 per hour pay increase.
2) Bike/pedestrian path on the Barre-Montpelier Road
Representatives from Dubois and King, who have been awarded the contract to explore the options for pedestrian and/or bike paths along the Barre-Montpelier Road, presented some preliminary findings and asked for feedback. The Times Argus put together a nice article about it here:
3) Northfield Savings Bank Tax Stabilization
NSB is hoping to build an office in Berlin on Paine Turnpike North, across the street (to the north) of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce building. Supposing this development went forward without the tax stabilization and NSB paid the full tax bill starting next year (and the tax rate didn't change), they would pay about $140,000 over the next five years. With the tax stabilization, NSB pays about $60,000 instead. The $80,000 difference is effectively taken up by the rest of the property tax payers of Berlin. After doing a bit of research, I've come to conclude that tax incentives like this one have not proven to deliver on their promises of stimulating the local economy enough to make up the cost to the rest of us. I voted against the tax stabilization, though it still passed. I explained to the NSB representatives there that night that while I respected everything that NSB does for the community, I voted the way I did because I thought this was a bad policy, and it wasn't at all because of them.
4) Green Mountain Drive name changed
To avoid confusion with the Montpelier road of the same name, the Selectboard has changed Green Mountain Drive to Bennington DriveGreen Mountain Drive does not have any residences or businesses on it, and is a natural extension of Bennington Drive, so this change will be unlikely to affect anyone. In fact, you're unlikely to notice it at all except for the street sign.
5) Development Review Board appointments
Harvey Golubock has been appointed to the DRB and John Friedrich has been appointed as an alternate to the DRB. Thanks to Harvey and John for stepping up and volunteering for this important Board!
6) Selectboard Goals
Each of the Selectboard members at the meeting presented some of their longer-term goals, several of which I expect we will see appearing on future agendas. I wanted to share a few of mine with you. Any feedback is welcome!
Goal 1: I'd like to compile the Ordinances that Berlin has passed into a single document that's easy to reference and downloadable in electronic format.
Goal 2: I'd like to resolve the issue of the format of Town Meeting vs. Australian Ballot. I think there's a "hybrid" solution--which may require a charter change--that could satisfy nearly everyone. I'll be introducing this sometime more formally in the next few months.
Goal 3: I'm interested in community owned or cooperative wireless Internet access. There are several ways to approach this, but from the research that I (and a number of my students) have done, a community Internet service provider could deliver fast Internet for half (or less) of whatever you're paying now.
Goal 4: This is on the agenda for Monday. We have the opportunity to take advantage of State grants to install solar panels on Town buildings, which may cover virtually all of our electricity needs, and have the welcome side effect of "freezing" (or reducing) our current electricity rates, even as rates increase in the future.
Goal 5: When I first started on the Selectboard, someone mentioned how much they'd like to start a community garden. I'd like to see this, too, but there are plenty of details to work out. I also heard that there was some interest in starting a Berlin farmer's market, but I didn't hear any details.
Goal 6: While Front Porch Forum, the web site, Corinne's mailing list, and the Town hotline do a good job of getting information out about Town events and concerns, many folks are still out of the loop. I (and Corinne) would love to see a Town newsletter sent out periodically via mail to all residents.
As usual, please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts!

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