Hanover town budget will include bike path, salt shed

by Sara McGahan | 3/4/15 7:52pm

The Hanover Board of Selectmen met at town hall Monday night to discuss the town budget.
Source: Annie Duncan

In a relaxed setting, the Hanover Board of Selectmen adopted the town budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year on Monday night. Almost all aspects of the proposed budget were adopted, town manager Julia Griffin said.

The Board of Selectmen spent the majority of the time discussing additional expenditure options, or as Griffin calls it, “the wish list,” which included upgrading access to recreational area Wilson’s Landing, fully funding the town’s paving and sidewalk maintenance programs and creating a reserve fund for maintaining Pine Park. Improving infrastructure, such as replacing water pipes, were also broached during the hearing.

Monday night’s meeting was the third in which the Board of Selectmen discussed the proposed budget. The board had two previous “marathon sessions,” as chairman of the board of selectmen Peter Christie called them, in which other aspects of the new budget were discussed.

A distinguishing aspect of the new budget is the allocation of funds toward a new $400,000 salt shed at the public works facility. The town’s current salt shed is small and old, Griffin wrote in an email. The current shed cannot receive bulk deliveries of salt for the entire season and must pay a premium for procurement later in the season and take the risk that there may not be salt available, according to the budget proposal. This upgrade will allow the town to purchase salt in the summer when prices are lowest and enable the town to buy enough salt to last an entire season. Currently, supplies often dwindle at the beginning of March, Griffin added.

Another aspect of the budget hearing of particular importance to Dartmouth students is the construction of a multi-use pedestrian and bicycle path on Lyme Road. The path would go from North Park Street, which runs alongside the green, to the roundabout on Reservoir Road near the rugby fields.

The width of the road will be decreased upon repaving, enabling the town to create the 12-inch-wide multi-use path as well as a tree lawn. This tree lawn will separate the roadway from the path. Seventy-five trees will be planted on this strip of land.

Griffin wrote that the path should make it easier to for Dartmouth students to walk or bike to the Reservoir Road playing fields. She added that this will also make Lyme road safer for Bernice A. Ray Elementary School or Richmond Middle School students who bike or walk to school.

The only aspect of the proposed budget that was not adopted was the creation of a Pine Park reserve fund, which was part of the additional expenditure options.

Government professor Linda Fowler spoke on behalf of the Pine Park Association, of which she is a trustee, saying that although the association owns the land, the town and the College are jointly responsible for maintaining half of Pine Park.

This has worked well for the most part, Fowler said, but in emergencies most of the responsibility has fallen into the hands of the Association. The idea behind creating this reserve is to regularize the interactions between the town and the Association, to make the College to step up in terms of their responsibility to maintain Pine Park and to save time.

If money is already appropriated, the Association will not have to wait until a scheduled town meeting to ask for financial help combating erosion and water damage, Griffin said, which have been making the trails increasingly unsafe.

This past fall, the town, the College and the Pine Park Association successfully collaborated to build a bridge over a crossing near the mouth of Girl Brook. Previously, this had been one of the most unsafe parts of the trail, Fowler said. The association is looking to increase these types of collaborative efforts in the future.

The Board of Selectmen did not adopt the creation of a Pine Park fund into this budget because they want to do so in cooperation with the College, Christie said.

The amended budget was approved about 50 minutes into the meeting. Right after the budget was adopted, Christie said that this process was “less painful than most” due to the hard work that was done in the months leading up to the meetings.

About six people attended Monday’s meeting in total. The hearing was recorded, however, and uploaded online the next day.

Residents will vote on this budget at the business meeting portion of the town meeting in early May. Residents must be present at the meeting in order to vote on this budget.