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(Water Project Update: Following the discussions at Town Meeting, the select board remains committed to providing regular updates on the progress of the town’s water project to the residents and businesses of Waitsfield.)
In late December, following a decision by the court that Reed Road is not a town road, the select board made the decision to pursue two parallel approaches to secure the well site that will support our community water project. Specifically, we voted to pursue both settlement negotiations with the landowners and condemnation proceedings. While both of these approaches are capable of securing the current well site, the board has consistently prioritized negotiated settlement with the involved landowners over condemnation.
Both approaches are still in process:
· Settlement status: Strong efforts began in December, are ongoing, and will continue as long as these discussions continue to hold any promise of success.
· Condemnation status: With no settlement yet reached, on March 18 the select board issued a notice of decision. This notice of decision moves formal condemnation proceedings forward, and makes clear our commitment to completing the community water project. Again, pursuit of condemnation does not alter our preference for a negotiated settlement or diminish the possibility of a settlement outcome. The full notice of decision is available to the public at the town office.
The community water project is essential to preserve public health, consolidate our commercial growth center and advance the town’s goals as per the Town Plan. Securing a reliable water source that meets the town’s needs is a critical component of the water project. In the coming months, the select board, through continued negotiations or through the condemnation process, will work diligently to ensure that such a water source is obtained and the best interests of the community are served.
With the opening of the construction season in April, we will continue to fund budgeted project construction, excluding those contracts directly involving the well site. This approach will enable the town to position the project for timely success. Work at the well site and along Reed Road will commence only after an agreement with the landowners has been reached or the town has obtained title to the property through condemnation.
We continue to welcome your questions about this and other town projects, either at public meetings or via direct communication. On Monday, April 11, at 7 p.m., the select board will be holding a public meeting to discuss the town of Waitsfield Water Ordinance. In general, the select board meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month – public welcome. Finally, you are also welcome to direct questions to Town Administrator Valerie Capels at the town office or to phone any of us at your convenience.
The Waitsfield Select Board: