Economic development specialist Ken Black presented his plan for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2012.
Black noted that some of the projects for 2013 were continued from the current year, and some projects are new. Black suggested an allocation of $90,000, for instance, to identify, prioritize, and implement projects along Route 100 and at the Town Common resulting from the town’s landscape architecture study.
Black’s plan included 22 specific goals. Other initiatives include a plan for awarding rebates for improvements to new and existing businesses, with an allocation of $30,000; developing an RFP and hiring a marketing company to develop a marketing program for the town, with an allocation of $25,000; an allocation of $50,000 for improved cell coverage; a total of $375,000 allocated for building the A section of the Valley Trail and extending the current trail as far north as Tannery Road.
The plan also includes an allocation of $325,000 to find and develop a venue or “cohesive center” along Route 100. The development of a venue has been one of the town’s goals since the beginning of their economic development efforts.
Amiee Pritcher asked if the draft plan was available to the public. When board members said it would be available after it was approved, Pritcher expressed disbelief.
“Really? Wow,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be nice for everyone to see what the plan for the coming year is before it’s set in stone?”
Board member Vicki Capitani, noting that the draft was released before it was approved in the past, suggested that the public should be able to access it.
“From a transparency point of view, I think we should get public input on it,” said board member William “Buzzy” Buswell. Black agreed to offer the plan for public discussion at a public meeting on economic development at 5 pm on June 27, at the Dover Town Office.
Board member Sherm Jenne agreed, and added that he’d like to see references to East and West Dover removed from the document, and from the town altogether. “If it were up to me, I’d take a can of paint and spray over the ‘West’ on the welcome sign,” he said. “I think it creates division.”
East Dover resident John Sprung appeared to be incensed by the remark, and became increasingly agitated. “I find it amazing that you feel recognizing the village center would have an impact on economic development,” he said. “It’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. The villages have been here for 200 years, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be recognized. What are you saying?”
“I’m saying it creates division,” Jenne replied.
Although he noted that the figures included in the plan are not a budget, Buswell suggested that Black was “off by anywhere from $19,000 to $36,000” because he used calendar year tax figures rather than fiscal year figures when calculating the available revenue from the town’s 1% local option tax.
Black said he used figures from previous years, and subtracted 10% for his estimates of anticipated revenue. “I was conservative, and the revenues that have come in were much higher than I anticipated,” Black said. “But I’m not going to change the numbers.”
The conversation went on, with Buswell repeating his assertion that Black’s numbers were incorrectly figured, and Black explaining that the allocations were approximate, and the anticipated revenues were based on previous years.
Selectboard chair Linda Holland attempted to stop the increasingly heated exchange. “You’re monopolizing” she said. “What you’re doing is filibustering. You may not think so, but it is.”
But Buswell refused to stop. “I’ve got the floor!” he said.
Jenne, who had been seeking to speak on the issue, snatched up Holland’s gavel and loudly banged on the table, drowning out Buswell’s objections. “Control yourself!” Jenne said.
“What do you mean?” demanded Buswell. “That is a rude comment. Rude!”
Holland said she’d adjourn the meeting if the board members couldn’t get their emotions under control.
Addressing Black, Jenne said “It’s my understanding that this is strictly an estimate, you can’t make it cut and dried, it’s all nonfactual. We don’t know what the revenue will be, that’s why it’s anticipated.”
Black agreed, and suggested that he and Buswell discuss the figures outside of the meeting. “I’d be happy to go over this at any level of detail you want.”
In other matters, the board approved a state traffic study on Dover Road in East Dover Village. The plan, presented by Pritcher, would count traffic on the Dover Road before and after its intersection with North Street.
The data will give local planners an indication of the level of local and through-traffic on the road, the speed at which vehicles are traveling, and the time of day they’re on the road. “I think there’s more traffic than people realize, and I think, as a town, you need to know how much traffic is using that road.”
Chris Helmstetter, who has been requesting data from the town’s $100,000 marketing campaign launched last fall, asked again for data mentioned at a board meeting earlier this spring. Helmstetter referred to a meeting in which Mount Snow General Manager Kelly Pawlak said that information regarding the number of hits on the chamber website during the campaign had been provided to Black. At the time, Black noted that the number of hits meant little without context.
Helmstetter said he asked for the numbers, and has been told the information was never received. “It was reported in the paper, it was in the minutes, and now everyone is denying that the information was ever given,” Helmstetter said. “Mount Snow is denying it now. I’d like to see the Internet traffic.”
“I don’t have the numbers,” Black said. “I’ll call Kelly Pawlak and see what I can do.”