×

Royalton Moves Ahead on Library

  • Lauren Bomalask,of South Royalton, Vt.,i helps her daughter Birdie 19 months down the stairs of the Royalton Memorial Library after attending story time on June 15, 2017 in South Royalton, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Wednesday, June 13, 2018

South Royalton — The Royalton Selectboard approved a trio of measures on Tuesday night aimed at modernizing the Royalton Memorial Library.

Following an animated discussion, the Selectboard greenlighted hiring an estimator to assess the likely cost of renovating the library. In October, voters passed a $750,000 bond to fund the project, but every bid the town received topped $1 million.

Selectboard member Chris Noble pitched enlisting an estimator as an opportunity to give voters a “shared vision” of the projected cost.

“We should plan on going back to the voters in the fall with a very clear bond vote,” Selectboard member Tim Dreisbach said.

The Selectboard designated the town’s betterment fund to pay for the estimate, as well as for the installation of a handrail at the entrance to the library. The third motion directed Town Administrator Rose Hemond to solicit three quotes for replacing the library’s ailing furnace, which Hemond described as “on the fritz” and unlikely to last another winter.

The attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, held in a small conference room at the back of Royalton’s Municipal Building, fluctuated between 10 and 16 people, excluding the five Selectboard members.

The discussion got off to a testy start, with Selectboard members and library supporters relitigating issues surrounding the library’s condition and the renovation plan.

Dreisbach said he’d reviewed a 2014 fire marshal’s report indicating the town had addressed the library’s structural deficiencies. In turn, Cynthia Dalrymple, president of the library’s board of trustees, said the steps the town took did not bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Dalrymple then rebuked Selectboard member Sandy Conrad over the board’s firing of project architect Jay White before it had consulted the library board. “You completely blindsided us,” she said.

At different times during the meeting, Dreisbach and Conrad both alluded to an executive session the board held, at which it discussed sensitive information that informed its decision to cut ties with White. The board declined to elaborate.

After letting White go, the Selectboard brought on architect Jay Barrett as an adviser.

At one point, Selectboard Chairman Larry Trottier said, “We’re getting off to a bad start,” and recapped the problem that prompted the discussion: “The bids that came in were for more money than the bond was for,” he said. “It’s just like taking a vacation in Hawaii: If you don’t have enough money to go, you don’t go.”

Dreisbach recommended to his fellow Selectboard members to offer to sell the building back to the library for $1, but they did not vote on the proposal. Louise Clark, a member of the library board, suggested the library would reject any such offer because taking ownership of the building would necessitate forfeiting several grants, which she said could “not be changed in any way, shape, or form.”

Vermont Law School student Matthew Wilhelm argued for the importance of having a library in the downtown area, noting, “this town has the only law school in the state of Vermont.”

Dreisbach said he expected the ultimate cost of renovating the library, under the current plan, to be at least $1.5 million. He said he would support going forward with the project, but only if voters bonded that amount.

In other business, the Selectboard heard a request by newly hired police Chief Loretta Stalnaker to purchase two Tasers, one for her use and the other for use by the town’s part-time officer. Stalnaker said having a Taser could help reduce the need for physical confrontations with dangerous or otherwise uncooperative individuals.

“If I didn’t have that, I’d have to go hands-on with my baton,” she said, adding that Tasers have a range of up to 25 feet.

The Selectboard unanimously approved the purchase of two Tasers at an initial cost of roughly $3,500, with an annual renewal fee in subsequent years.

Gabe Brison-Trezise can be reached at g.brisontrezise@gmail.com.