Island Pond’s island is up for sale

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Robert Hall has owned the island in Island Pond for the past 57 years.  Now he wants to sell it, hopefully to the town of Brighton, which would preserve it.  Photo by Tena Starr

Robert Hall has owned the island in Island Pond for the past 57 years. Now he wants to sell it, hopefully to the town of Brighton, which would preserve it. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle June 4, 2014 

by Tena Starr

ISLAND POND — For the last 57 years, Robert Hall of been a member of a small, elite group that includes the likes of actors Mel Gibson, Johnny Depp, and singer Celine Dion. Like those celebrities, Mr. Hall owns a private island.

Johnny Depp’s island is in the Caribbean; Mr. Hall’s island is in Island Pond. He’s reached the point in life, however, where he wants to sell it, ideally to the town of Brighton, which he considers the logical next owner. He’s been in a wheelchair since he broke his back cutting firewood in 1977 and hasn’t set foot on the property for more than 30 years.

It’s hard to navigate a wheelchair through a sandy beach, he wryly noted in an interview Friday. “I can’t use it, but I could use the money.”

Mr. Hall is asking $1.975-million for the island he and his mother bought when he was 18 years old. He’s now 76.

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Brighton receives award for Town Hall renovations

Joel Cope offers thanks on behalf of the people of Brighton to the Preservation Trust of Vermont.  The town’s administrative assistant accepted recognition for one of ten outstanding contributions in the field of historic preservation at the 2014 Vermont Preservation and Downtown Conference, on May 2.  The conference was held in Island Pond, at the newly restored Town Hall.  Mr. Cope was praised for raising $600,000 in grant funds to make the restoration possible.  Watching him as he speaks were Melinda Gervais-Lamoureux, chairman of the Brighton Selectmen, Paul Bruhn, who heads the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and Jay Ancel of Black River Design, the architects for the project.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Joel Cope offers thanks on behalf of the people of Brighton to the Preservation Trust of Vermont. The town’s administrative assistant accepted recognition for one of ten outstanding contributions in the field of historic preservation at the 2014 Vermont Preservation and Downtown Conference, on May 2. The conference was held in Island Pond, at the newly restored Town Hall. Mr. Cope was praised for raising $600,000 in grant funds to make the restoration possible. Watching him as he speaks were Melinda Gervais-Lamoureux, chairman of the Brighton Selectmen, Paul Bruhn, who heads the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and Jay Ancel of Black River Design, the architects for the project. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle May 7, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

ISLAND POND — The renovation of the Brighton Town Hall was among ten projects recognized for outstanding contributions in the field of historic preservation at the 2014 Vermont Preservation and Downtown Conference Friday.

A sizeable contingent of Vermont’s historical preservation community gathered in the Town Hall in the center of Island Pond on May 1 to discuss shared interests and plan for further projects.

The annual event is presented in a different community each year. In odd numbered years it is hosted by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, in even numbered ones, by the Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV).

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Passenger train might come to Island Pond

Kato's Railroad

copyright the Chronicle, October 9, 2013

by Paul Lefebvre

ISLAND POND — For two private developers who would like to start a nighttime rail passenger service between Montreal and Portland, slow is beautiful.

The working name for the project is train-hotel, and in a special meeting here Tuesday with Brighton Selectmen, Francois Rebello of Montreal and Richard Bennett of Biddeford, Maine, laid out a business proposal that would warm the heart of nearly everyone in a town that the railroad put on the map.

Essentially, the pair want to put evening passenger trains on three different routes, all linking Montreal to New York.  Initially, the trains would run for three months, starting in the summer.

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Brighton selectmen poll voters and taxpayers on industrial wind

Wind towers on Lowell Mountain, as seen from Irish Hill Road. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 11-21-2012

ISLAND POND — Within the next few days every registered voter and property taxpayer in the town of Brighton can expect to receive a ballot in the mail.  That ballot asks the recipient whether or not they favor, oppose or remain undecided on the issue of industrial wind projects on ridgelines within the town.  Though the results of the balloting are non-binding, the town’s selectmen agreed that they would support the majority decision expressed by respondents.

The ballots were mailed on Tuesday and must be postmarked no later than December 7 to be included in the voting.  The selectmen agreed to wait a few extra days for any wayward ballots but only those mailed on or before the due date will be eligible for consideration.

Ensuring the integrity of the balloting process was paramount, chairman of the selectmen Melinda Gervais said.  Each envelope provided with the ballot contains the return address of the recipient allowing town officers to check off the voter or taxpayer.

The ballot within will be kept folded before being secured in a locked ballot box stored in the vault in the basement of the municipal office, Ms. Gervais said.  Only Town Clerk Teresa Potwin has access to the key that opens the vault, she added.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure no one can get in there and stuff the ballot box,” Ms. Gervais said.  “We want this to represent the wishes of this town.”

Earlier in the evening the selectmen were asked what measures the town would take to protect the people of the town from possible negative effects of industrial wind turbines.  Resident Kathleen Nelson expressed her concern that oversight of the developers is sorely lacking.  The Public Service Board, she said, appears to have no interest at all in evaluating the financial capability of developers.  If a project fails or produces negative effects, would the taxpayers of the town become responsible for making reparations, she asked.

“How are you going to stop these people from ruining everything I’ve worked so hard to build?” Ms. Nelson said.  “What are you going to do to protect me?”

It is difficult to say what steps the town can take considering the project has not even passed the met tower stage, Ms. Gervais said.  Protecting the public is a job best suited to the regulators both at the state and federal level, Selectman James Webb said.

“I guess that’s where the state and whatever regulations they have come into play,” Mr. Webb said.  “As long as they follow the rules, I don’t see what we can do.”

The state’s interest in protecting the public seems tenuous at best, resident Joe Arborio said.  The Public Service Board makes its decisions without ever needing to accept any responsibility for the outcomes of those decisions, he said.

“If it goes wrong they have no responsibility,” Mr. Arborio said.  “It’s what I imagine living in a dictatorship would be like — here it is, deal with it.”

Evaluating the financial stability of a developer falls outside of the town’s jurisdiction, Brighton Administrative Assistant Joel Cope said.  As long as the developer comes in with the money in hand there is no reason for the town to become involved, he said.  It would be different, however, if the developer sought the town’s support for a grant, Mr. Cope added.

“If the town became involved in the financing of a project we would certainly involve an attorney and closely review the risk,” Mr. Cope said.

Ms. Nelson also expressed concern about the potential for the town to become mired in litigation should the developer fail to live up to its promises.  Given the problems that have surfaced around other wind projects both in Vermont and around the nation, the potential for the town needing to litigate seems high, Pam Arborio said.

“I think this is going to end up in the judicial arena before it’s all over,” Ms. Arborio said.

While some people have come forward to express concerns about the negative effect wind turbines would have on the town, those fears represent only half of the issue, Selectman Mike Worth said.

“The other half will be asking what we’re going to do to promote renewable energy in this state,” Mr. Worth said.  “That’s why we’re doing this survey — so we can find out what the majority of people want.  I will do what the town supports.”

Ms. Gervais concluded the discussion with a pledge to give serious consideration to all sides of the issue.  What stance the selectmen will adopt going forward will be heavily influenced by the outcome of the balloting.

“We all have our own opinions about this but we’re willing to put that aside and represent the people of this town,” Ms. Gervais said.  “We’re trying to prepare and get our information ready for when the project finally comes down.”

 Bollard crashes

 In other business the selectmen gave thought as to how to prevent drivers from crashing into the concrete posts that delineate travel lanes at the Rail Depot building.  The large, immovable yellow posts have been struck no less than seven times in recent months.  The posts were originally placed there to prevent tall vehicular traffic from crashing into and tearing off the canopy roof adjacent to the Community National Bank’s drive through.

“We thought we were fixing one problem but ended up creating another,” Ms. Gervais lamented.

The trouble with the posts, or bollards as they are properly known, is that they can easily disappear in the blind spots of larger trucks and SUVs, Mr. Worth said.  Indeed, he also admitted that he has experienced near misses of his own with the bollards.

The selectmen authorized Mr. Cope to investigate the purchase of curbing to provide at least some warning to vehicles before they strike the posts.

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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