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Duxbury Select Board working to resolve gravel pit issue

I would like to take a moment to respond to the article which appeared in The Valley Reporter on June 14, 2012, regarding the Duxbury gravel pit. Having served on the select board for five years prior to my re-election this past March, I must note that during that period mention of the gravel pit and its status under Act 250 was never raised. Unfortunately, in the transition of membership on the board over the years, there was a failure to maintain the ongoing supervision of the pit's operation and the plan the town agreed to when they received the Act 250 permit approximately 12 years ago.

Over the past couple of years, there had been mention and discussion regarding the pit and questions over how much longer it would be available as a resource to the town. In September of 2011, the select board formed a road committee to provide support and guidance to the highway department as well as to review the status of the pit.

There was serious concern of how the site had been managed over the years and a decision was made to review what had been laid out and to formulate a "new" plan. Accordingly, under the direction of a former select board member with the help of a knowledgeable local contractor we sought to: 1. determine how much gravel remained on the site; 2. determine and develop a phased plan for removal; 3. reclaim and rehabilitate each phase once the area had yielded its capacity.

Our effort was to prudently manage this valuable resource for the town with a final goal of maximizing its value when complete and offering it for sale as originally planned. Unfortunately, once again, no discussion of Act 250 reporting requirements took place.

Concerns raised by abutters over what the town had planned for the pit were/are indeed legitimate and we failed in our diligence to keep them informed. After reviewing the site with the Act 250 personnel, the town has been enjoined from doing any "work" in the pit and we are only allowed to remove crushed gravel we processed last fall. Our need for gravel to maintain our roads properly will require we process additional gravel as well as our need to replenish our winter sand inventory. With almost 80 percent of our roads being gravel, I am hopeful we can arrange a plan to meet these needs at the same time an overall corrective design is developed.

I would like to briefly address the issue of the diesel fuel release at the pit. Without question it was a terribly bad failure in judgment and the select board has taken action to address the ramifications with the individual involved. I have no knowledge of who the whistle-blower or others are nor do I need to know.

What troubles me is the fact that discussion of this incident took place and no one bothered to contact me and notify me. I have spent 35 years in the fuel oil/heating industry and am very well aware of handling and spill reporting requirements and the action that needs to be taken. There is no objective basis in fact for the whistle-blower’s statement "that the town select board was not more concerned about what had happened." Personally, I was extremely upset as were members of the board. The select board in its deliberations weighed several disciplinary options nin an attempt to meet an appropriate response.

A year after we experienced a devastating storm at the end of April as well as the damage we would incur from Tropical Storm Irene, we are continuing to move Duxbury forward. We are attempting to determine the financial impact of the storms' damage, repairing infrastructure and planning for the future. A part of this involves providing a record(s) and informational resource(s) for future select boards. Given the increase and scope of regulations and reporting requirements there is no question that small towns in Vermont such as Duxbury are finding the day-to-day administrative challenges taxing.

Charland is the chair of the Duxbury Select Board.

 

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