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Waitsfield’s sidewalk project will continue after town officials, property owners, VTrans reps, Green Mountain Power (GMP) reps, an arborist and an engineer gathered in the village to figure out a solution to power poles in the path of the sidewalk.
Several weeks ago contractors discovered that the sidewalk from the Lowe property at the south end of the village to the Fuller House was in conflict with several utility poles. To move the sidewalk would likely have meant damage or death to the street trees that line Main Street through the village. To move the utility poles would mean one property owner got a pole in his front yard, others would have had guy wires in their view sheds and one property owner will have five trees removed that help stabilize the riverbank near his house.
At a meeting on the sidewalk on June 10, participants discussed several possible scenarios whereby power poles would get moved with the least number of lost trees. The solution, which town offices, Green Mountain Power, VTrans, the engineers and the property owners feel will work, involves removing a power pole at the Fuller House and putting a new pole and guy wire down the bank of the lawn, toward the river. From there the lines will run to the south corner of the Higgins property – where the current 25-foot utility pole will be replaced with a 50-foot pole.
A pole near the Maclay Architects property will be removed (and out of the way of the sidewalk). The lines will run from the taller pole at the Higgins’ property to a new pole at the north corner of the Lowe property.
There will be a loss of some trees on the Fuller House and the Lowes will lose five trees along the riverbank to the north of their house. GMP reps said that this new configuration would also require trimming or topping several trees and said that it might make more sense to remove the trees.
Arborist Ed Read, owner of Mad River Garden Center, said that the trees slated for removal were ash trees and they may or may not perish in the next four to five years if the emerald ash borer beetle continued its move toward Vermont. Read suggested that it might make sense to remove the ash trees and replant with oak trees or a flowering tree or shrub that would not grow into the utility lines.
Those who are having trees removed asked that the stumps be removed as well, which sidewalk engineers said they would handle. Green Mountain Power’s rep, Brian Dooley, said that it would take at least two weeks for the tree work and pole reconfiguration to occur, noting that the utility work is weather dependent. The utility lines that have to be moved are in the Route 100 right of way and that reconfiguration as well as the tree removal will be at the expense of Green Mountain Power. The stump removal and replanting of trees will come from the sidewalk project budget.