I am happy to report that starting in June the community will be welcomed back into our municipal offices for the first time in more than a year. This is quite the milestone, especially when I reflect on the uncertainties we faced in the spring of 2020.
Visitors will notice a few changes in the municipal offices, including a new directory and sign-in sheet at the entrance, mask requirement and social distancing. We expect to eliminate some of these minor inconveniences in the coming weeks. We encourage visitors to make an appointment and look forward to greeting them once they are here. At this time, the library is open by appointment. We hope to return to a model that more closely resembles pre-pandemic operations this July.
As always, we are listening closely to Vermont Department of Health guidelines. We are encouraged to hear that at the end of May nearly 80% of eligible Vermonters received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Vermont Department of Health reports fewer and fewer new COVID-19 cases statewide.
With the decline in COVID cases, we were able to return to hybrid selectboard meetings in May. It’s been great to have the board together under one roof, and we hope to welcome community members back in-person again soon. During its May meetings, the selectboard passed an updated capital improvement plan, which will help us continue our work investing in much needed equipment and projects around town. The plan outlines projects and funding for fiscal years 2022-2026 and is available for viewing on our website. The selectboard also passed a Declaration of Inclusion in May. Our leadership team will use this declaration to update town policies, employment practices and daily operations. We are dedicated to making our community more inclusive and equitable to all residents.
Inside the municipal offices, we’ve been busy preparing for the return of the public, alongside our normal activities. Property Tax due date came a bit later this year, on May 17. More than 97% of our town’s billed property taxes were collected on time, which is on track with 2019 and 2020 totals. May was a busy month in the Town Clerk’s office for recording real estate documents. This is likely a product of the strong real estate market. We welcome new Milton residents and look forward to having them help shape the future of our town.
Our Assessor’s office remains busy with the town wide reappraisal and will hold in-person grievance hearings in the community room on June 14 and 15 - by appointment.
Outside the municipal offices, our highway division is busy continuing spring and summer operations with culvert replacements and paving preparations. Last month we signed contract documents for the paving of East and Duffy Roads. I am happy to report that this work has already been completed with the exception of the line stripping. We are now preparing plans for Poor Farm, Manley and Lake Roads for potential paving later this summer. We also learned that we will receive a $175,000 Class 2 Paving Grant for Lake Road - which comes as a huge boost to our paving program.
Champlin Associate’s started painting fire hydrants along the route 7 corridor, and progress continues on the Cherry Street sidewalk project. Our team also started reviewing bids for crosswalk improvements along Herrick Avenue and Centre Drive, in May.
Work continues on our recreation park athletic fields, including painting lines and mowing in preparation for a busy season. Although it doesn’t quite feel like summer yet, we’re getting ready for summer sports, recreational programming and, of course, our summer camps. We’re pleased to say we hired all of our camp counselors in May. Camp registration is full, and we look forward to welcoming campers soon.
We’re excited to announce another new addition to the park: a community garden. The garden will allow up to 12 Milton community members space to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Registration opened in May and is filling up quickly. Interested community members should reach out to our Recreation and Parks Department to sign up for a plot.
It’s wonderful to see flowers blooming and trees turning green again. We’ve been through a long, dark winter, and I can’t help but feel like these seasonal changes mirror the hope and joy we’re collectively experiencing as COVID-19 cases decline. It fills our team with joy to say for the first time in a long time, “We look forward to seeing you in our municipal offices soon.”
We continued our annual tradition here at the Town offices with our Memorial Day ceremony on May 31 celebrating those community members that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our service members past and present for their courage and sacrifice in defense of our nation. Thank you!