News

Guest Column: Notes from Town Hall

BY ERIK WELLS 

Williston Town Manager

Greetings Williston community. This is the first of an ongoing series of town manager columns that will appear in the Observer every other month to provide updates on what is happening in your local government and in the community. Thank you to the Williston Observer for providing the opportunity to share these community messages in the paper. 

COVID-19 AND TOWN OPERATIONS

Town staff has been working diligently and creatively throughout the COVID-19 State of Emergency to continue to provide municipal services. There have been a number of changes to our office services over this period of time to keep staff and the public safe. 

Over the coming months, I will be working with our department heads to plan the reopening of town facilities. We will be moving slowly and carefully to get back to where we were prior to March 2020 to the greatest extent possible. During this transition period, town staff will continue to assist and provide services using the many tools we have developed over the past year. These include: land record research by appointment, virtual meetings, outdoor meeting spaces, the town hall drive-up drop box and our e-commerce platform MuniciPAY for payments. 

COVID-19 continues to affect all of us, but there is optimism and hope in the months ahead. The strength of our community has helped us work through this challenging time, and it will be that same strength that moves us ahead. 

I encourage anyone who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine, or made an appointment for a vaccination, to visit the Vermont Department of Health website, www.healthvermont.gov or call 855-722-7878.

GET INVOLVED — BE A TOWN VOLUNTEER

Volunteers serving on boards, commissions, committees and representing the town on regional entities are a critical component to Williston’s local governance. A big “thank you” to all of our dedicated volunteers, especially over the past year as all meetings have been held virtually. 

Openings for positions on these boards will be advertised in May, and interviews for openings will be held by the selectboard in June leading up to the new fiscal year that begins July 1. To learn more about these openings and how to apply, watch for information in the Observer, town website, Front Porch Forum and town social media in the coming weeks. 

INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION 2021

Town staff are planning what will be possible for the Independence Day celebration. For planning purposes and in accordance with the guidance from the State of Vermont, we are tentatively planning on a parade and fireworks for Saturday, July 3. A final decision will be made by mid to late June. Please check the town website for updates on times, locations and activities. 

TOWN ENERGY PLANNING

In the fall of 2020, the Williston Selectboard adopted a comprehensive energy plan as an amendment to the Town Plan. This detailed document provides items for the town to consider and explore in shaping the community’s energy future and curbing the impacts of climate change. In addition, the plan contains provisions for renewable energy facility siting in town, which will receive substantial deference when any facilities are considered by the State Public Utilities Commission. Developing the plan was made possible by many months of dedicated work by the ad hoc Energy Plan Task Force, Planning Commission and town staff providing support. 

As town policy, the energy plan is a guidance document for possible implementation measures to work toward the goals it contains. All the items in the plan may not be achievable, and the plan can be revised in the coming years as necessary. 

Town staff are working on determining how to take the next steps to implement components of the energy plan. There has been a lot of interest from the community in this important work, and there will be opportunities to get involved in the coming months. To stay updated on energy planning work and discover resources, please visit the energy tab on the town website: www.town.williston.vt.us. 

LAMPLITE WATERLINE PROJECT 

The waterline replacement project in the Lamplite neighborhood is expected to begin construction in early June. This will be a major project over the summer months. Williston voters approved a $2 million bond article for the project in November 2020, and the town has received up to $1 million in loan forgiveness from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for the project. 

The project will include the installation of 6,280 linear feet of new 8-inch waterline and appurtenances along Pine Lane, White Birch Lane, Aspen Lane and Lamplite Lane. 

If you have questions about any of the topics in this column or another topic, please reach out to me. I can be reached using email at ewells@willistonvt.org or by phone at 876-1168. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you around town. 

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