OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
August 15, 2017
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green, and Bradley Rafus were present, as were Stephan Chait, Raymond Combs, Peggy Rafus, Joseph Tamburrino, Cara Cheyette, Edee Edwards, Alice Aldrich, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 8/1/17 regular meeting minutes as written. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Mitch Green abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 8/14/17 special meeting minutes as written. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Green abstaining.
At the August 8th meeting, Board members met with Windham Regional Commission Planner Alyssa Sabetto to discuss Town projects potentially eligible for FEMA grant funding. Rafus told Ray Combs the two primary projects discussed were bank armoring on Green River Road and a culvert replacement on Hatch School Rod. Cara Cheyette asked what other projects were on the WRC list. Sumner Farm Road bridge, answered Rafus; that one is not high priority since the State inspected it. The others were a Stark Mountain Road culvert project, and another culvert project. These projects were originally identified several years ago during a series of meetings with WRC.
Award Truck Body Bids
Truck body bids were opened at the August 1st meeting, and Rafus and Keith Stone have since reviewed the specification details. The lowest bid was from Viking (Cives), on a one-year-old body which had been exchanged because the customer did not care for the side dump feature. Rafus and Stone traveled to inspect that unit, which Rafus said was in like-new condition. He recommended the Viking body as the best choice for the town; in addition to the lesser cost, the vendor is offering a 30-day turn-around on installation, whereas the other bids offered 90-120 days. Green said that in the past Viking bodies were not built as well as others. Rafus said specifications and materials currently used in manufacture are the same on all the units being considered. Wilmington has two Viking bodies in service now, and has had no problems with them. Sumner made a motion to award the truck body bid to Viking (Cives), for a used truck body, in the amount of $27,400.00. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining.
Latest Landfill Test Results Discussion
Rafus advised that he would recuse himself during this discussion; any comments he made would be as a property owner. We have received the results of the spring landfill testing, which was done on May 30, 2017, Sumner said. He read the text description of the results for the record, as follows:
Field measurements: Depth to water in MW-3 was measured at 5.07 feet below top of casing (btoc). The water temperature was 9.9 degrees Celsius and a pH value of 7.04 standard units was recorded at the time of sampling. The depth to water, temperature and pH measurements recorded are within range of historical measurements. A specific conductance reading of 470.7 µS/cm was noted at the time of sampling and is within range of historical fluctuations. Field measurement data is tabulated in Appendix B.
Laboratory results: Analytical testing indicated the presence of several PFCs in the groundwater sample collected from MW-3. A combined concentration of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in MW-3 was reported at 110.3 parts per trillion (ng/l) which exceeds the Vermont groundwater enforcement standard (VGES) of 20 ng/l. No PFCs were detected above laboratory method detection limits in the trip blank sample. Current and historical analytical data is tabulated in Appendix B and a copy of the laboratory report is provided in Appendix C.
While PFC concentrations in MW-3 are presently the highest reported to date, the data set is still inadequate (only two sampling rounds) to evaluate trends. The next groundwater monitoring event is scheduled to occur in October 2017.
(Note to Reader: The full report is available online at https://halifaxvt.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/PFC-Test-Results-Spring-2017.pdf)
Responding to a series of questions, Board members said the PFC level in the MW-3 well was 28.2 ppt (parts per trillion) last fall, and it is now at 110.3 ppt. The Vermont State permissible level is set at 20 ppt, while the federal level is 70 ppt, a change from the original 400 ppt. The landfill will be tested twice a year, with the next test scheduled for October 2017.
Joe Tamburrino asked about possible corrective actions and the cost of private well testing. To date, the Town has paid for tests, as there is no funding available from the State. The most recent landfill well test cost approximately $1,900. Brad Rafus suggested we search out another environmental agency to perform testing, and Tamburrino asked about private well testing companies. There are only a few companies who do this type of test, said Sumner, and the samples go to a Wisconsin laboratory for testing. Edee Edwards had several comments, based on notes taken when Kasey Kathan (Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation) spoke at a February 2017 Selectboard meeting. She recalled Kathan mentioning private water testing costing $300-$500, and recommended questioning the engineers about possible different test types, as she (Edwards) had seen EPA test 537 noted in the fall results and EPA test 537 Rev. 1.1 in the most recent documents. Did the Town ask Windham Regional Commission about assistance with a hydrology study?, Edwards asked. Stephan Chait said WRC had funding related to brownfield site clean-up, but those monies were not available for a closed landfill site such as we have in Halifax, where the land was not expected to see other uses in the future. Have other towns been retested also?, asked Edwards. Could property owners draw their own water samples to be sent for testing, asked Tamburrino, who suggested that might reduce cost. I’m not comfortable with that, said Peggy Rafus. Given the most recent test results, she asked that her well be retested. Tamburrino would also like to have his well tested. He thought the Town should not have to foot the whole bill, but Peggy Rafus said she was okay with that, as the Town issued the permit that allowed the materials to be put into the landfill. The State permissible PFC levels were set for a reason, said Brad Rafus; we don’t know how far it has spread yet. Green said he would be in favor of retesting the wells. We want to know where the limits are, said Cara Cheyette. Has anyone explored whether the Town has insurance coverage? Brad Rafus said the town has a policy for contamination that might qualify. Edwards recommended testing the well on the Town Garage property, and offering the private well test to Kristine Boyko again, although she declined to participate last fall. We need to work together on this, said Alice Aldrich, who made the point that the Town is not fully responsible for the problem, which has come to public attention fairly recently, although the contaminated material was deposited many years ago. Cheyette advised communicating with other towns and considering pooling resources in dealing with the PFC contamination situation. Peggy Rafus said she was not satisfied with test water being drawn from her outside spigot; she would like it to be taken from the pressure tank. She also recommended asking State officials to attend a future Halifax meeting to share information and answer questions as the testing process continues. Is there a dry-soil test for PFCs?, she asked. Edwards reminded the meeting that audio from the February 21st, 2017 meeting with Kasey Kathan was available as a public record. Sumner made a motion to have KAS Engineering test the Town Garage, Rafus, Tamburrino, and Boyko wells for PFCs as soon as possible. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Brad Rafus abstaining.
Green River Watershed Alliance
Stephan Chait and Everett Wilson are the Halifax representatives to the Windham Regional Commission. Wilson was out of town and unable to attend tonight’s meeting. Chait reported on the progress of the watershed project, which will involve the Halifax, Guilford, and Marlboro. A grant application was submitted to High Meadows Fund earlier this summer and Chait said we should know very soon whether a grant has been approved. The main goals of the endeavor are increased flood resiliency, enhanced communication between watershed stakeholders, and water quality improvement. WRC will lead the project and handle the administrative aspects, and various other organizations and individuals, such as the Windham County Natural Resource Conservation District, the Vermont Department of Conservation, the Executive Director of the Vermont River Conservancy, the Vermont Performance Lab, and the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, will be involved. Once funding is in place, the next step is for participating towns and organizations to come up with a list of goals. Input should come not just from the Town’s Selectboard, but from the school, and all residents and property owners in town with an interest. There will be no direct cost to the Town for this project.
Gabriel asked Chait to create a short explanatory write-up that could be posted online and around town to get word to the general public. Brad Rafus asked whether this funding might be combined with upcoming FEMA funding; Chait said he would ask that question.
September 23rd Branch Road Closure
There will be a Town celebration in Halifax Village on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., announced Sumner, and the coordinators would like to have Branch Road closed between the four-way intersection at Branch, Brook, Collins, and Reed Hill Roads, and the intersection of Branch and Jacksonville Stage Roads (Town Hill) for the duration of the event. Green made a motion to close Branch Road through Halifax Village from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on September 23rd, 2017, for the Halifax Community Celebration. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Rafus advised the committee in charge of the event is looking for volunteers to assist with various activities on September 23rd. There are sign-up sheets in the Town Office.
Hearing of Visitors
Alice Aldrich asked about the potential moving of Old County Road at the four corners in Halifax Center. Sumner said that was probably not going to happen. Green added that the subject is still under discussion. We’ve measured the right of way stone wall to stone wall just beyond the MacAllister house. That’s a four-rod road, and we’re well within our right of way.
What are we going to do about the Deer Park Road erosion?, Aldrich asked. Rafus said he had talked with ANR; as the eroded portion of hillside starts on private property correcting the problem would require easements, and would cost $300-$400,000. Maximum State grants are $175,000. It’s a long, steep bank. Rafus said that after Irene, armoring the bank on Green River just beyond Metcalf cost $100,000 just for the stone.
Our tax rate went down, said Cara Cheyette. I know we voted to put any monetary surplus against the tax rate; is that why it went down? We didn’t have any surplus this year, replied Sumner. Do we have a rainy day fund?, Cheyette asked. We do, said Sumner, who did not have the actual amount immediately available. Cheyette also asked about the $300,000 in the public trust fund. Is that a source of money for the town? We can only use the interest, we can’t touch the principal, said Green. We get $12-$15,000 in interest, which we use to pay for the Town Garage. Cheyette also mentioned the large pile of logs on Branch Road private property beyond the school. She is concerned the logs might roll into the road. It is not in the town right of way, said Sumner.
Sign Orders to the Treasurer
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
New correspondence was reviewed.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.