Pittsford SB keeps watch for trains, deals with mowing tractors in traction


PITTSFORD—Rep. Butch Shaw was on hand during Pittsford’s most recent selectboard meeting to remind the town and its citizens that Amtrak will begin its daily train service to and from Burlington beginning on July 29.

Shaw discussed the need for safety and caution surrounding the new trains, which are less noisy than older models and can travel up to sixty miles per hour. “People need to be aware,” he said.

Shaw also mentioned that some safety measures were already in place. “All our crossings except for farm crossings are gated now,” he said.

He also reassured the board that Amtrak’s scheduling process would not affect freight trains already rolling through the state. “They won’t be [in the state] for long,” he said, speaking of their speed and the relatively few stops they’ll make (Burlington, Middlebury, Castleton, and Rutland).

Shaw didn’t know precisely when the trains would come through the Pittsford area and that more details on the schedule would be forthcoming.

Highway Foreman Chad Eugair was on hand to update the board on a series of snafus affecting the town’s long-arm mowing capabilities. All told, the town has both of its mowers out of commission, with one falling out of service spectacularly.

“[It didn’t] necessarily blow up,” said Eugair describing how the blades on the mower came loose from their housing. “The parts came off and kicked up some gravel, shattering the windshield.”

“We’re lucky we didn’t have someone injured,” added Town Manager Brenda Fox-Howard.

Eugair said he’d looked into a couple of options: A mower attachment for the town’s existing tractor with a price tag of around $33,000 and a new Kubota mower that could run upwards of $180,000.

The board discussed varying options, including the possibility of hiring someone to do the work until a solution could be found. However, it was noted that most service providers are already booked up. “It’s not easy to jump into the middle of the race,” said the board’s Joe Gagnon.

Eugair mentioned that he’d discussed splitting a new mower and ongoing maintenance costs with the town of West Rutland. The board approved Eugair’s following up on this line of inquiry. “I think it’s great to pool resources if you can,” said Ms. Fox-Howard. 

Other items at the meeting included:

  • The Town manager’s report included research into permanent digital speeding signs, which Fox-Howard said would be very easy to utilize with assistance from the state. The board was unsure if the town would need one sign or two but agreed that at least one was needed near the top of the hill on Route 7 near the Mobil station.

Fox-Howard mentioned that she had arranged for employees of the transfer station to receive a new one-hour training session on new protocols to be administered online at the computer in the town garage. 

  • The board voted unanimously to approve the new tax rates at a slightly lower overall rate than last year. The new rates are as follows: The General Fund tax rate will be 0.3568, the Highway Fund will be 0.2821, the Local Agreement will be 0.0023, and the village tax rate will be 0.0318, making the total municipal and village tax rate 0.6730. The Homestead tax rate was set at 1.3944, and the Non-homestead rate was at 1.5997.
  • A discussion was held around whether or not to send printed copies of the Town Report to all residents at the cost of roughly $3600 or to publish them online and make a hard copy available at the Town Clerk’s office to anyone who asks.

Rep. Shaw noted that the town had voted last year to approve the mailing of the reports. “In Vermont, the town report coming to your mailbox is tradition, he said.

The board agreed to table the matter and to include it as an item to discuss at the next town meeting.

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