NORTH BENNINGTON >> A group of citizens spoke out at Tuesday's meeting of the village trustees, saying that their road has become unusable due to road maintenance that is being performed nearby.
"The road that runs all around my house has become one large dust ball, continuously, it doesn't ever stop," said George Street resident Nadine Wisher, "You can't walk up there, you can't run, you can't bike, you can't take the kids outside. It is awful, and I would like to know what is going to be done about it." Wisher said the gravel dust has been an issue for over two weeks.
"This is a process that has been done for years in this village," said Chairman Matthew Patterson. "If you don't do this, you end up with the alligator effect, where everything breaks up, and the water gets in and then it freezes and you lose the whole road. That's why we try to get to these roads before that happens, either with this method or with a skim coat like we did on College Road last year."
"I understand the process, and I understand that it hasn't rained," said Wisher, "but that doesn't mean that we residents of this area have to suck dust until it decides to rain or until you decide to do something about it.
Highway Superintendent Norm LeBlanc said he had spoken with residents and understands their concerns. "We're out there sweeping it," he said, "I wish it would rain." During a good downpour, he said, they could sweep up much of the dust. He insisted that the highway department is doing everything it can, and that the situation is improving.
"Two days ago I almost had an asthma attack walking up the street because there was so much dust you couldn't see the car in front of you," said Wisher. She described the dust as being extremely fine and difficult to clean. "It's really obnoxious," she said.
Patterson said the substance that had been put down was calcium carbonate, specifically limestone. After Wisher challenged Patterson to come stand in the dust for a couple hours, he responded, "I live across the way, I see enough of it. I'm not happy about it either. But, there is no solution, really, other than us doubling our efforts and getting it swept, possibly doing that more diligently when the rain comes."
"We need to consider watering or doing something, paying for something," said trustee John Lamson, "If we don't have the equipment, we need to pay for it and do it." Lamson said he also lives nearby, and is concerned about potential negative health effects for his young child. Patterson suggested that the board direct LeBlanc to find a water truck that could be used to wet the dust and make sweeping it easier. He suggested Shaftsbury might be willing to rent its water truck.
"I hear what people are saying," he said, "and we certainly didn't intend for this to happen."
The North Bennington Village Trustees meet the first Tuesday after the first Wednesday of every month at the train station on Depot Street. Full recordings of the meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.
Contact Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.