Bradford, Vt., petition seeks revote on sidewalk scoping

By LUKAS DUNFORD

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 04-02-2024 6:30 PM

BRADFORD, Vt. — Voters have filed a petition for a revote on a Town Meeting article they say was confusing.

The petitioners are seeking to reverse an article approved at Town Meeting on March 2, which asked whether the town should “cease the scoping, design and/or construction of a walking/bicycle path or sidewalk” from Vermont Route 25B to a park and ride located off the intersection of Route 25 and Plateau Acres.

Last week, the Selectboard, in a 4-1 vote, approved a motion to schedule a special town meeting to revote the issue.

The town meeting article “was too complicated — and people voted, but they weren't sure of what they were voting for,” Meroa Benjamin, a member of the Bradford Selectboard, said at a board meeting held in person and online last Thursday. 

With 150 signatures, the March 18 petition reached the necessary 5% of registered voters for the March 2 vote to be reconsidered at “a Special Town Meeting.” This “reconsideration” asked that the board set a revote date within 60 days of March 18.

The petition itself was written “on an incorrect form,” Benjamin said, which was pursuant to the incorrect Vermont law, which “does not apply to this article.” But she continued, “We owe it as a board to listen to these people that felt confused and that they weren’t fully understanding how they were voting.”

Regardless of the petition’s legality, the board approved a motion to “schedule a meeting like the (petition’s) requirements say,” Michael Wright, a Selectboard member, said. “And,” he continued, “I would like to propose that prior to that scheduled meeting, we have a special informational meeting,” which would “be a good time for everybody to bring their questions” to “bring the whole subject to light.”

The issue and wording of the article seemed confusing even to Selectboard members during last week’s meeting. 

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“So if you vote ‘yes’ on this article, you'd do nothing; if you vote ‘no’ on the article, then you can continue with your scoping study?” Dan A. Perry III, the Selectboard’s vice chairman, asked.  

“No,” Ryan Lockwood, the chairman said, “if you vote ‘yes’ on this, it’s saying you want to spend the money; and I think that’s what got some people confused at the town meeting.”

Paul Rivers, a Bradford resident for 28 years, said he is aware of the hazards of Old Creamery Road, but uncertain of the costs of addressing them.

“I have biked it, and I have run it, and to say (the road) is dangerous is obvious,” he said. “But, we shouldn't spend any money unless we're really going to fix it,” which would entail “cut(ting) out that big rock outcropping.” 

To see if this is possible and feasible, Rivers said, “We need to get a report to see what it would take and what it would cost.”

The study, to be conducted by a state-recommended engineer, is estimated to cost $10,000, Benjamin said. 

Benjamin, the motion’s only dissenter, said, “I don't think the town of Bradford needs to spend $10,000 to find out that it's going to be too much money to do in the long run.” Still, she said that “it’s our responsibility as the Selectboard to honor these people’s request to have this revoted.” 

At the informational meeting, Benjamin said, the board will “make the appropriate amendments to the article that (residents) want, to get the results that (they) want.”

The Selectboard will determine when to hold the informational meeting and revote at its next meeting, set for Thursday, April 11. 

Lukas Dunford can be reached at lukas.a.dunford.25@dartmouth.edu.