Woodstock Seeks to Relocate Snow Dump

Woodstock — It may have been hot and muggy outside, but snow — and lots of it — was on everyone’s mind.

The village trustees met Monday night for a public hearing on the relocation of the town’s snow dump, which was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. The town is applying for a grant from the Community Development Block Grant — Disaster Recovery II to build a new dump site, and the board heard comments from the public regarding the proposal.

Woodstock’s snow dump — the site where trucks discard plowed snow from the town’s roads — is currently located adjacent to the Ottauquechee River on the east side of town. A portion of the river bank was washed away by Tropical Storm Irene, which had led to much of the salt-laden snow running into the river when it melts in the spring. Although the river bank was partially restored with FEMA money, Marie Caduto, watershed coordinator for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, says the fix is regarded as only a stop-gap measure.

“We consider that to be a stabilization project, not a restoration project,” Caduto said. “The state has invested a lot of money in trying to make Vermont’s rivers cleaner. The salt used on the roads to melt the snow is a particularly big issue — it gets put in the snow dump, and when the snow melts it settles in the banks of the river and has all kinds of effects on the aquatic life.”

The new snow dump would be located farther away from the river, on Maxham Meadow Way, east of the current site.

The Community Development Block Grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and allocates $17 million to fund post-FEMA disaster relief in Vermont. Woodstock is requesting $187,520 from the Community Development Block Grant, to be matched by $16,138 from Sustainable Woodstock and $2,764 from the town. The total cost of the project is $206,422, according to the village’s application.

Woodstock voters have already approved $25,000 for engineering and design plans of the new snow dump, as well as $70,000 to purchase the land. The town will make the purchase upon approval of the grant.

The application was put together by Philip Swanson, the municipal manager of the town of Woodstock; Rita Seto, a senior planner at the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commision; and members of the Sustainable Woodstock organization.

Craig Jewett, of Otter Creek Engineering, said in the application that the new snow dump would reduce the possibility of flooding.

“Since the current dump is located on the river, it is also within the floodway as well as the floodplain,” Jewett said. “The location of the new snow dump increases resiliency by drastically reducing the potential for future flood damage.”

Proponents of relocating the snow dump argue that it will also have economic benefits, since moving the snow dump out of the east side of Woodstock would allow more development in that area.

“I’ve met a lot of realtors and developers who have walked away from purchasing land in that area, just because of the snow dump,” said Les Berge, a resident of Woodstock.

“Moving the snow dump kills two birds with one stone,” said Alison Clarkson, a member of Sustainable Woodstock and a town resident. “It’s an opportunity to do the right thing environmentally, and it would also allow for the redevelopment of the East End. A snow dump is not the best and highest use of that space.”

Opponents of relocation found fault with the language in the application.

“The application is full of imprecise and inaccurate language,” said Meriel Hall, a town resident who pointed out discrepancies within the application regarding the amount of land washed away by Irene. “If it were tighter I would be okay with submitting the application.”

Seto promised that the inaccuracies would be corrected. All of the comments made during the public hearing will be appended to the application.

“The application will probably be reviewed at the August 7 or September 11 meeting,” Seto said. “There will also be a period of public comment at the Community Development Block Grant meeting, and you are welcome to attend that.”

Candace Coburn, chair of the board of trustees, said that much of the debate at the public hearing depended on the outcome of the grant application.

“The board supports the application, but then it’s the committee’s job to decide if this is viable or not,” Coburn said.

Lauren Bender can be reached at lbender@vnews.com .