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Brattleboro Selectboard Agenda and Notes - September 19, 2017


Diversity in Town government and the banning single-use plastic bags will be front and center at the next Brattleboro Selectboard meeting.

The board will also hear a suggested Climate Accord Resolution, hold a public hearing on parking changes, approve wording of a sign to educate people about asking for money on the streets, oversee financial reports, and more.

You can participate in all of this by attending, and can bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.

......

The Brattleboro Selectboard will meet on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 in the Selectboard Meeting Room at the Municipal Center. It is anticipated that the Board will enter into executive session at 5:45pm to discuss contracts and a real estate lease, and reconvene the business meeting at 6:15pm.

ASL interpreters will be available for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community members.

Jan Anderson
Executive Secretary
Brattleboro Town Manager's Office
230 Main Street, Suite 208
Brattleboro, VT 05301
(802) 251-8100

....

BRATTLEBORO SELECTBOARD
SELECTBOARD MEETING ROOM, MUNICIPAL CENTER
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2017
EXECUTIVE SESSION – 5:45PM
REGULAR MEETING - 6:15PM
AGENDA

1. CONVENE REGULAR MEETING
2. APPROVE MINUTESSeptember 5
3. CHAIR’S REMARKS
4. MANAGER’S COMMENTS
5. SELECTBOARD COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
6. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

7. LIQUOR COMMISSIONERSNone

8. WATER AND SEWER COMMISSIONERS - None

9. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

A. Police-Fire Facilities Project - Update
B. Ordinance Amendments – Second Reading and Public Hearing (i) Modifying On-Street Parking on Elliot Street and Church Street Appendix C, Articles I, II, and III, Sections 16-87, 16-100, and 16-110 (ii) Increasing Speed Limit on Vernon Street Appendix C, Article IV, Section 16-46(b)
C. Panhandling – Informational Sign (from September 5 meeting)

10. NEW BUSINESS

A. Diversity/Inclusion/Equity in Town Government and in the Community – Town Manager’s Report and Recommendations
B. Energy Committee – (i) Annual Report (ii) Climate Accord Resolution (iii) Downtown Brattleboro Building Energy Program
C. Ordinance to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags – Discussion
D. FY17 Year-End Financial Report – Final But Unaudited
E. Financial Report – Monthly Report, August
F. New England Library Association Conference Grant – Accept and Appropriate
G. Announce Committee Vacancies

11. CORRESPONDENCE/FYI

A. Warrants
B. Department Monthly Reports (August 2017)

12. MEETINGS

See enclosed Town Calendar

13. ADJOURNMENT

...

MEMORANDUM
To
: Selectboard
From: Peter B. Elwell, Town Manager
Re: Administrative Report
Date: September 14, 2017

-------
The following will summarize the proposed motions for the Selectboard meeting on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. The Board will meet in executive session at 5:45pm to discuss contracts and a real estate lease. The Board will reconvene the business meeting at 6:15pm in the Selectboard Meeting Room.

7. LIQUOR COMMISSIONERSNone

8. WATER AND SEWER COMMISSIONERSNone

9. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

A. Police-Fire Facilities Project - Update Town Manager Elwell will provide the Board with an update on construction progress at the Police Station and the Central Fire Station, as set forth in his memorandum dated September 14, 2017. The financial portion of his written report lists administratively approved project expenses and provides an overall summary of the project budget, expenses to date, funds that have been committed but not yet spent, and uncommitted balance.

NO ACTION IS REQUIRED ON THIS ITEM.

B. Ordinance Amendments – Second Reading and Public Hearing (i) Modifying On-Street Parking on Elliot Street and Church Street Appendix C, Articles I, II, and III, Sections 16-87, 16-100, and 16-110 (ii) Increasing Speed Limit on Vernon Street Appendix C, Article IV, Section 16-46(b) The Board is asked to hold a second reading and public hearing on amendments to Appendix C of the Code of Ordinances. The amendment to Articles I, II, and III will alter parking on Elliot Street to allow for the Fire Department vehicles’ turning radius when leaving the station at the intersection of Spring Street and Elliot Street, and will add three metered spaces on Church Street to make more on-street parking available to the public. The amendment to Article IV (increasing the speed on Vernon Street) has previously been approved by the Traffic Safety Committee and the Selectboard.

POTENTIAL MOTION: TO APPROVE THE AMENDMENTS TO APPENDIX C, ARTICLES I, II, III, AND IV, SECTIONS 16-87, 16-100, 16-110, AND 16-46(b), AS PRESENTED.

C. Panhandling – Informational Sign (from September 5 meeting) At the September 5 Selectboard meeting, the Board heard from residents and a citizens’ group who requested permission to post an informational sign informing panhandlers and the public of their respective legal rights and offering contact numbers to call for assistance. The Board requested that the Town Manager work with the citizens’ group to re-word the sign to be accurate and acceptable as a public notice. It is expected that a revised sign will be presented for the Board’s consideration.

POTENTIAL MOTION: TBD

10. NEW BUSINESS

A. Diversity/Inclusion/Equity in Town Government and in the Community – Town Manager’s Report and Recommendations Town Manager Elwell’s memorandum dated September 14, 2017, describes the many interactions he has had over the past few months with individuals and groups regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity in Brattleboro, the conclusions he has drawn from those communications, and his recommendations for additional Town actions. Town Manager Elwell will present a summary at the meeting and will request Selectboard approval of his recommendations for additional actions.

POTENTIAL MOTION: TO APPROVE THE TOWN MANAGER’S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ADDITIONAL TOWN ACTIONS TO SUPPORT DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, AND EQUITY IN BRATTLEBORO.

B. Energy Committee – (i) Annual Report (ii) Climate Accord Resolution (iii) Downtown Brattleboro Building Energy Program Members from the Energy Committee will provide a presentation to the Board. The Energy Committee also will ask the Board to endorse a Climate Accord Resolution and a resolution supporting the Downtown Brattleboro Building Energy Program. Copies of both proposed resolutions are included in the Board’s back-up materials. Also included in the Board’s back-up materials is a copy of the Energy Committee’s proposal for the Downtown Brattleboro Building Energy Program.

POTENTIAL MOTION(S): TBD

C. Ordinance to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags – Discussion The voters of the Town of Brattleboro voted on March 7, 2017, to adopt an ordinance banning “single use plastic bags” within the Town. At its June 20, 2017, meeting, the Selectboard discussed three possible alternatives, decided to proceed with an outright prohibition of single use plastic bags, and directed staff to draft such an ordinance.

As set forth in his memorandum dated September 14, 2017, Assistant Town Manager Moreland has undertaken extensive research and worked with Town Attorney Fisher to compose draft language for an ordinance. Also included in the Board’s back-up materials is correspondence from Pal Borofsky, who is expected to appear and discuss the possible impacts to his business. The Board is asked to hold a public discussion at this time. When the Board is satisfied with the substance of the ordinance, the Board will be asked to hold first and second readings, as well as a public hearing, to adopt the ordinance as proposed or revised.

NO ACTION IS REQUIRED ON THIS ITEM.

D. FY17 Year-End Financial Report – Final But Unaudited Town Manager Elwell will summarize the final report of revenues and expenditures for FY17, as set forth in the memorandum dated September 8, 2017, (with attachments) from Finance Director John O’Connor.

NO ACTION IS REQUIRED ON THIS ITEM.

E. Financial Report – Monthly Report, August Town Manager Elwell will summarize the monthly financial report for August 2017, as set forth in the memorandum dated September 8, 2017, (with attachments) from Finance Director John O’Connor.

NO ACTION IS REQUIRED ON THIS ITEM.

F. New England Library Association Conference Grant – Accept and Appropriate The Board is asked to ratify the Town Manager’s decision to accept and appropriate a $495 scholarship grant from the Vermont Department of Libraries to pay for two library employees to attend the New England Library Association conference in Burlington on October 21 through 24, 2017.

POTENTIAL MOTION: TO RATIFY THE TOWN MANAGER’S DECISION TO ACCEPT AND APPROPRIATE A $495 SCHOLARSHIP GRANT FROM THE VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF LIBRARIES.

G. Announce Committee Vacancies At the September 5, 2017 meeting, the Board announced vacancies on various committees and boards. On September 12, a member of the Arts Committee submitted her resignation. The Board is asked to announce all current vacancies (including the new Arts Committee vacancy) and to accept applications through September 28 for appointments at the October 3 Selectboard meeting.

NO ACTION IS REQUIRED ON THIS ITEM.

»

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Definitions

Before the panhandling sign is decided, it might be nice to hear how our ordinances against begging relates to panhandling. I'm wondering of our Begging ordinance is out of date.

We forbid begging(?)...but the sign was going to indicate we sometimes allow it(?) due to 1st amendment issues.

 
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This campaign to erect signs

This campaign to erect signs that forbid panhandling but not really is bugging me.
It seems that- like many things in this town- it is already a done deal except for the exact wording. There are so many unanswered questions regarding both the town law against begging and the public vs private property issue. So, my understanding so far is that the signs will state that panhandling is illegal near banks, ATMs, etc. But, aren't banks and bank ATMs on private property? How can a public ordinance apply to private property? It would seem to me that if the local banks saw panhandling at their entrances or ATMs they would have addressed that with their own signage or some other type warning. I have never seen such a sign at any of the banks. One of our Selectboard members worked for a local bank for years - wouldn't she have some idea if this was a legitimate problem?
So, the act of panhandling is defined as asking for something with no expectation of anything in return. What's the difference between a hungry,homeless person standing on a street corner asking for money and the Salvation Army having someone stand on the street with their bucket and that annoying bell asking for money?
Both situations call for a donation of money to help someone less fortunate.
Would the Salvation Army be more acceptable because they are a "charity" vs one person reaching a level of desperation that forces them to ask strangers for money? Maybe you think the individuals won't spend your money the way you want them to? Well, I no longer donate to The Salvation Army because I didn't like how they were spending their donations. That was my choice to put money in that bucket or not. It's your choice to give a couple of dollars to someone panhandling on the street or not. Maybe that person will ask you again and again- the Salvation Army continues to ask and even mails me "begging " letters.
How about the kids that sit at a table and sell cider and baked goods at gallery Walk? They're often persistent and noisy to attract people to their table. Is it because they're well scrubbed, presentable and attractive kids that it seems "cute"? What about the high school car washes where kids are holding signs and yelling for people to come in? Why is that different? I'm guessing it's different or acceptable because these are people that look like us ; we think we know their story and it's not so far from our own. We applaud their efforts to raise money for whatever they're raising money for- new uniforms ; a school trip, whatever. So, why don't we applaud the person who is trying to raise money to feed himself? To buy a few groceries for his family? To maybe afford a hotel room for a night just to get off the street and sleep in a bed?
I'm not suggesting for a second that every person panhandling is doing it for food or shelter- lots of them are doing it to buy drugs or booze. And, I understand that you don't feel right about helping them do that. Nor am I suggesting that you give money to every person who ever asks for it. It's hard to know who - if anyone -will use it for a meal or who will shoot it into their arm. Over the years I've set up my own criteria for who I give money to on the street. For instance, I always give to women. Not because I don't think they might be addicts but because life on the street is a thousand times more dangerous for a woman than a man. If I can help it be a teeny less dangerous on that particular day I'm going to do it. When I lived in Boston I often would pack some lunches; sandwich, fruit, water, maybe a brownie or a cookie ( because we all deserve a treat- more so if we're living on the street) And, while I did once have a man throw my lunch back at me and call me a rude name people fro the most part were happy to have a meal. I live near the common and if I see people who look like they might be living there for a short time ( which I totally think they should be able to do)I've brought down a pan of hot pasta or some other hearty meal. It's not because I'm this incredible human being or that I'm looking for a unanimous pat on the back. It's because it's the decent thing to do. I hope there is a lively and, if needed, heated conversation about these signs and how we should be helping our panhandlers. Most folks who are begging on the street don't want to be there anymore than you want them there. I'm pretty sure a confusing sign isn't going to help anyone.

 
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it's a sign

Lots of good points here.

Your mention of food reminded me of a funny/sad moment in DC. My mom had come to visit me and we were walking through Dupont Circle. There was an old man on the sidewalk asking for change. My mom thought it better to get him food, so she bought a bag of day old bagels to give to him (she can be cheap..., ahem).

Feeling good, she took them to the man and handed them over. He looked up and smiled at her, toothless, and put them next to her. Rock hard bagels weren't going to be of much use to someone without teeth.

One of my favorite solicitations was a guy who came up next to me as I was walking to work in DC. He was nice, but one of the types that sticks with you and walks and talks until something changes. He apologized for interrupting me, then humbly asked if I could give him one million dollars. I stopped, laughed, and said "You know, if I had an extra million, I would have given it to you just for the boldness of your request."

We also had Blelvis in DC - a guy who walked around and called himself Blelvis the Black Elvis. He would come up next to you, walk with you for blocks, and ask you to name any Elvis song. If he couldn't sing it, you owed him money. That was the deal. I would argue with him. I said I didn't know any obscure Elvis songs, and all the ones I knew were certainly ones he knew. I offered to quit him on P-Funk lyrics, but no deal.

And yes, I think we have too many signs as is. There is sign fatigue. We have so many instructional directional signs that it becomes a blur, leading (I'm sure) to many people not seeing them at all.

 
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Actually, Chris, if you DO

Actually, Chris, if you DO have an extra million dollars I could use a little disposable income...
You have to have respect for both that guy and Blelvis- they had a request; they had a service and they were willing to trade for that.
I had considered sending my post to the Selectboard just to maybe provide some food for thought. But, I'm pretty sure - as in the past- the only members to respond, let alone even open the email- would be Brandie and Tim.
It's so frustrating to me how much tunnel vision there is in this town around socioeconomic issues.I know Brattleboro likes to think of itself as a progressive,welcoming and nurturing place. And, certainly, in some areas it is. But, there is a blind eye turned to the poorer residents of this town. The agencies that work with low income, homeless and elderly populations do as good a job as they can but, I don't see the town itself doing much to solve any problems that go hand in hand with those populations. The issue, as I see it, is that the town DOES think it's working on solutions. It's not. Look at what a dragged out process it's been to even get town leadership to admit there is a problem with the lack of diversity in their employees. Too much time spent "looking into things" and not enough spent actually doing anything.
I was recently talking to a friend from Boston who sits somewhat more to the right than I like about the panhandling situation and how big cities deal with it. ( most of the time they don't) I repeated my opinion that Brattleboro views itself as a progressive, caring place, etc. His reply was;
"Well, it must be pretty progressive- they let a drag queen in their cow parade!
I rest my case.

 
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panhandling

I've been out of the loop on this ordinance.

Homeless folks have been around town as long as I can recall (25 years.) Heck I remember an encampment that caught fire down by the river behind what is now Faith's Ford, before the new bridge was built. I believe 50 people were living in there. And then of course in recent memory was when there was a big stink with folks camping on the town green.

this issue seems to have a whiff of the nude ordinance that bedeviled the community and select board in years past.

My experience, i have never been asked for money in previous years, but more so in the last few years. Mostly around the parking lot/garage area.

 
 #

Chiming in finally

Hello! Sorry that I have not chimed in here sooner, but I have been working to separate my world from BS&L, and as you can imagine, the two were pretty entangled, including my iBrattleboro account. Couple of things: There is a "no begging" (ugh that is not my wording) ordinance on the books but people have the right to ask for money, it is protected under the first amendment. There is no desire nor attempt to implement any kind of anti-panhandling ordinance. There is a sign in the works with collaborative groups, aimed at educating the public by stating that panhandling is completely legal and protected under the first amendment, and also states times were it crosses the line (being approached at your car or at an ATM) it includes police numbers to call if you are threatened or harrassed (not if someone just asks you) and provides the 211 number for those panhandling who may be looking to access services. This sign should not be considered final, or a done deal, as it will be discussed Tuesday, and will include (hopefully) robust public participation, and in the least a healthy discussion with the Selectboard, DBA, Town Manager, and likely the Chief.

 

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