January 8, 2024 OSHMH Minutes

Town of South Hero

Meeting House – Preserve & Revitalize Project – Edited Notes

Date: MONDAY, Jan 8, 2024
Time: 4:00 PM In person at Town Office or via ZOOM –

Attendees: David Carter-Chair, Michael Carroll, Pamela Surprenant, Mary Harwood, Carol
Tremble, Terry Robinson, Beth Curtis, Linda Seavey, Rebecca Arnold-Arnold & Scangas,
Inc. Architects, Sandy Gregg. Sue Arguin arrived a bit later.
Via ZOOM:, Emily Klofft-Northwest Regional Planning Commission,
Absent: Sarah Kjelleren
Public: Joan Falcao, Anne Zolotas

1. Called to order at 4:00 by David C.
2. VCDP Planning Grant Update (Vermont Community Development Program)
Emily Klofft-NRPC re-confirmed that the grant needs to be closed out by March 31,2024. The
balance yet to spend is $29,000.
Emily K also reported that the Environmental Assessment (EA) for Phase 1 had to be redone as it
has expired. Arnold & Scangas (A&S) is getting an estimate from KAS who did the first EA. The
2nd EA will determine if a 2nd part will be required and that would include soil testing. For VCDP it
won’t be required. Timeline for Environmental Review (ER) is that it must be completed before
bids are opened. Note that EA and ER are two tiers of environmental studies. Different
government divisions require their own versions of EA and/or ER (pausing while you roll your
eyes). The Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is mostly a “desk task”, that is it is referencing
map sources and NRPC will do this.
TASK: Town should go ahead and open the Environmental Review in the GEARS system. Sue A.
is this you with Emily K’s help?
Rebecca Arnold stated that KAS did the original Phase 1 EA and she has a proposal from KAS to
do the 2nd EA Phase 1 for $1,995. KAS can start with notice to proceed. Sandy G. asked for a
copy of the KAS proposal by email to circulate for review and approval.
NEED: Phase 2 ER estimate. TASK: Rebecca A. to request proposal from KAS. At this time there
is no knowledge of an archeological review needed.
Phase 1 EA is funded via VCDP.
Emily K. said she can provide guidance to Sue Arguin and the SB for SB public meetings for EA.
TASK: Sue A. contact Emily regarding this.
2024 reimbursement funds from VCDP can be requested by Kim Julow, Town Treasurer and Sue
A. on a regular basis.
TIMELINE: BIDS; early 2025. Write up Bid Documents early Fall 2024. Work to begin Spring
2025. NRPC and A&S can help with this.
3. Phase 1 Etc. Note: a good deal of discussion under this heading happened during item #2 so
see above.
Adding Phase 3: Need architectural plans and estimate. TASK: Rebecca A. A&S. Please provide
timeline to have completed.
4. Grants & PR Update: TASK: Mary H. will re-contact Welch’s office and have conversation
with Michelle that we are relying on this potential $800,000 to get our historic preservation
project completed including both Phases 1 & 2

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• PR Meeting Date Thursday, January 25 at 9:00 AM at the Library Community Room.
5. Public Comment –
Anne Zolotas stated’ “I guess this is the time I need to speak and rain on your parade”.
Anne stated: As a private citizen and as a Selectboard member this project needs to be reviewed
to determine if it is feasible to go ahead with Historic Designation or application. The project
should be postponed for some number of years for the priority project of a new Town Hall Project.
Anne also cast doubt that the 2 projects could be done simultaneously.
Linda Seavey asked why the 2 projects could not proceed simultaneously?
Anne Z. responded the Meeting House doesn’t have a use. The first floor has no business plan.
David Carter responded: there is a use for the first floor. It is to be flexible community space for
concerts, markets, social gatherings such as birthday parties or family reunions to name just a few
possible uses. Further, the 2 projects will be paid for from 2 separate funding pools; Town Hall will
be funded by a Municipal Bond over 20 years with annual $60,000 tax-payer impact; the Meeting
House project is relying on Federal and State grants plus private foundation funding and private
individual donor support. This group had thought of having a Voter Article at Town Meeting to raise
$150,000 in one-time tax-payer funds, however, due to the potential increase in property taxes of
18% for Educational funding, it was decided NOT to have this article on the ballot. We are
sensitive to taxpayer burden.
Joan Falcao asked how much more will it cost for tax-payers? Brief general discussion followed
that included that the Town must add an annual maintenance budget line for the Old White
Meeting House to avoid future deferred maintenance issues that would have high tax-payer
impact a.k.a. the situation the Town now finds itself must be avoided in the future! Note: there will
be a report on other Town-owned community properties and their maintenance costs/uses
forthcoming….allow 2 weeks.
Mary H. stated there are 100 private funders at this time and this demonstrates community
support. Fund-raising will continue in earnest over the next year and beyond.
Linda S. said that more PR with written pieces in The Islander, on Facebook etc. better
understanding can be achieved. Also, perhaps a community survey in 2024 could be done again
to get ideas for potential uses. Note: 2019 survey asked this question and many suggestions were
Rebecca Arnold stated the focus right now is to save the historic building and to use the new first
floor area for flexible community space. Once the first floor is finished people will be excited and
want to use it.
David C. stated that the Local Options Tax ready to kick in July this year could be a possible
source of some funds to cover managing the space.
Rebecca A. stated the Holly Hall in Bristol would be a good model to investigate for costs. Further
discussion along these lines led to the conclusion that research will be done by this group into
other community halls and the types of uses, maintenance costs etc. (Sandy G. volunteered to
start researching).
Joan F. asked, What about the Granny’s? David C. responded that their organization can plan to
build their own building at their cost with funds raised through their own efforts. Funding could
come from loans, donations a fund-raising program etc. The Grannies were offered a piece of the
Town property located at the Town Highway Building.
Anne Z. replied that the Granny’s have decided not to submit a Voter Article at this Town Meeting.
They felt the wording of the Article did not fairly represent their wishes.
Anne Z. also stated she felt there was a lack of Voter information about the project. This has lead
to some people she has spoke with to have a lack of confidence in the project. Further, she said

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the terms of grants have limitations/restrictions. Also, she said that preservation costs are higher
than building from scratch.
Michael Carroll asked Anne Z. what she would do to get the word out? Anne Z. replied put
information about the project in writing.
David C. stated there will be more PR (PR meeting scheduled for Jan 25).
Anne Z. said that in her opinion historic preservation builds are less energy efficient than new
Rebecca A. responded that the Meeting House will be efficient for an historic building. Storm
windows will be added and splits for heat/AC are planned. Note: there is also a 2nd means of heat
code required and that is planned to be electric baseboard.
Joan F. asked about any grant matches and how they will be funded? The response is that the
Town has some match funding available and should further match funds be needed those funds
could be sourced from private foundations such as the South Hero Foundation.
Anne Z. asked about keeping the slate roof and shouldn’t it be replaced with standing seam? She
said there is cedar shake roofing beneath the slate. Further discussion resulted in adding this to
the research being done on estimating maintenance costs.
The facts about National Historic District Designation: private property owners will NOT be
affected by National Historic District Designation unless they go for Federal funding to work on
their property; or, a property owner who plans a housing project with 10 or more units located
within the District trips ACT 250.
Conclusion: the Old White Meeting House project needs better communication with the public.
6. Next Meeting – Monday, Feb 12,2024 at 3:00 PM at the Town Office & by Zoom.
7. Adjourned at 5:40 PM
Respectfully submitted by,
Sandy Gregg, Scribe