Barre working to add electric to town park but officials want breakdown of costs

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2022 at 7:33 am

BARRE – The community has been working to bring electricity to the town park on Route 98, but some of the Town Board members want a breakdown of the costs and how the town will pay for the expense.

The board on Wednesday evening discussed a proposal from National Grid for $15,351 to run electricity to the park. That proposal is good for 90 days.

The town highway department has already put in conduit and a pull box. That total cost of putting in electricity will be close to $40,000, said Town Supervisor Sean Pogue.

When the town was first working on the project before Covid in 2020, Pogue said the overall costs would have been about $18,000. But the costs have really climbed since then.

The Barre Betterment Committee has been raising money for the project, and Apex Clean Energy has donated at least $2,000 towards the effort.

Pogue said the town can tap part of the $210,000 approved for Barre as part of the American Rescue Plan.

Town Councilman George McKenna said it felt like the town was approving the expenditure “willy nilly.” He wanted to see in the town record where the board voted to bring electricity to the park.

Pogue said he would try to find it in the previous minutes. He said the push to bring electricity to the park has been an ongoing public effort for several years.

Town Councilwoman Kerri Richardson said she would like to see a detailed breakdown on the costs for the project and where all the money will be coming from to pay for it. She said she believes the community supports the electricity, but wants to see a cost breakdown before moving forward.

She was joined by McKenna and Councilman David Waters in tabling the National Grid proposal for a month. Pogue and Councilwoman Margaret Swan opposed that, wanting to approve the proposal on Wednesday evening.

Pogue said the board was functioning as a “circus” with the majority tabling routine votes, such as transferring funds and adjusting fees.

Richardson said Pogue often doesn’t provide enough information to board members to make responsible decisions.

McKenna and Waters both started on the board in January and they said there is a learning curve in understanding how the board handles town business.

With the electricity to the town park, Pogue said he would provide a breakdown to the board before the next meeting, showing the costs and revenues for the project.

 The Town Board during the meeting also heard a presentation from TextMyGov where the town would pay $3,200 annually, plus a one-time $1,600 setup fee, to send text messages to residents in a mass notification system. Residents could also text town departments for information or to report potholes, code violations and other issues. The contract is good for up to 25,000 text messages a year. Pogue said the town is just looking into a mass notification service.

RTO, a company bringing wireless internet to fill gaps in Orleans County, also will be putting dishes and antennas on the railing of the Barre water tank behind the fire hall on Route 98, Pogue said.

RTO finished putting equipment in Lyndonville and now is in Kendall, said County Legislator Bill Eick.

Highway Superintendent Dale Brooks said the department is looking to spend $2,500 from its budget for a diamond stick that would allow highway employees to have very precise locations for valves, signs, fire hydrants, waterlines, culverts and curb stops. The software program is being encouraged by the Village of Albion Water Department, which provides water for Barre.

Brooks said the system would be an asset for the department, providing an easy-to-access database in the field. For example in the winter the highway workers often use a metal detector to find a valve that is buried in the snow. With the diamond stick, it pinpoints the location within 2 inches, Brooks said.