RESIDENT INTEREST IN NEW MAPLE AVENUE PARK UNABATED – Forty-five residents attended the July 13 town council meeting in Maple Hall. Public safety needs received a lot of attention, but preserving 100% of Maple Park received the most passion and emphasis. Bob Raymond, standing, right, was one of many speakers that evening. A letter based on his remarks is on the letters page.                                                                  – Photo by Ken Stern
RESIDENT INTEREST IN NEW MAPLE AVENUE PARK UNABATED – Forty-five residents attended the July 13 town council meeting in Maple Hall. Public safety needs received a lot of attention, but preserving 100% of Maple Park received the most passion and emphasis. Bob Raymond, standing, right, was one of many speakers that evening. A letter based on his remarks is on the letters page. – Photo by Ken Stern

The first in-person town council meeting in 16 months brought some 45 people to Maple Hall July 13

Council was productive, passing three ordinances, but the public hearing on public safety and the unresolved status of the easement across the new Maple Avenue park next to the Landed Gentry 10 house subdivision dominated discussion at the start and close of the three-hour meeting.

Honoring Maple Park 
restrictive covenant

Resident Linda Talman’s opening comment, that she had trouble hearing in the large hall, was a metaphor as well as literally true, as residents throughout the evening complained they could not hear councilmembers, the mayor, staff or each other. 

Resident Bob Raymond read a statement decrying the town’s lack of vision while Lauren Jaye shared the importance of public space to her children and grandchildren and spoke with fondness of the role the Hedlin farmstand in her life and as a community gathering space.

Jules Riske, a Hedlin family member, lives across Talbott Street from the Maple Avenue property. She asked for improved communications through hybrid video and in-person meetings and for staff to respond to questions posed to them.

“A month ago I brought a question about the discrepancy between the restrictive covenant and the [option/purchase] agreement to the town attorney [Scott Thomas, on the property transactions] and no reply. I am not getting responses,” she told the council. Her question: “Tell me how to bring these issues to council that will bring responses” brought applause.

Kai Ottesen, her husband and a Hedlin, followed, pointing out that an agenda item “the proposed easement release, was not easy to find,” addressing the release of the easement owned by Landed Gentry that crosses the northeast corner of area protected by a restrictive covenant. Thomas, the town administrator, introduced the item as “only for discussion” that evening. A 19 page “Agreement for extinguishment of easement,” apparently prepared by Landed Gentry, was in the council packet. Discussion came at the end of “unfinished business,” not as new business.

Gentry proposes easement end

Introducing the “Release of Easement,” Mayor Ramon Hayes, in an understatement, said, “We have added to the agenda for discussion, not for a decision, a topic very important for the community.” In the sales agreement to Gentry, council limited house size to 1,700 square feet “so houses would be affordable – moderate” in price, Thomas noted. Now Gentry proposed extinguishing the easement across the park property on the condition that council agree to more interior space. Their subdivision site plan placed four 7,000 square foot lots facing Maple Avenue. See graphic, page 6.
Councilmember Marylee Chamberlain confirmed that on the Gentry website a design is 1,709 square feet. Councilmember Mary Wohleb noted “if we don’t say yes to what they give us they can bring the easement back.” Thomas affirmed the town would be violating the terms of the agreement if they limit house size after approving extinguishing the easement. Councilmember Bill Stokes echoed that that clause 3, is titled “default … the default is if we reneged on our deal.”

Thomas noted the council has to approve the agreement. Hayes ended the discussion saying “at the next meeting we will have an actionable item for you.” 

Residents support Hedlins

Residents spoke again against the easement and for the priority the restrictive covenant provided over the easement for protecting the park. Speaking for a second time, resident Marilyn Johnson, championed the Hedlins, asking “why are we not giving the Hedlin family they are asking for? What they want, give them.” The only thing the park needs is a sign that says “Welcome to Hedlin Field” she said – and no overnight parking. She accused Landed Gentry of wanting the parking lot for subdivision residents and their guests.

She got in a critical back and forth with Hayes, saying “I know you, Mayor Hayes.”

Ottesen spoke again, thanking people for their support. He asked town officials why the developer would be allowed an easement they do not plan to use, again pointing out it was not commensurate with the restrictive covenant.

Hayes final statement was a reiteration that he will explain the timeline and how the proposal came together.

Councilmember Jacques Brunisholz had the last word, standing up in exasperation and raising his voice. “The Council and mayor were quite in agreement,” he said. “We worked really hard to maintain a little bit of park. Bill (Stokes) was right: he said ‘let’s not touch it.’”

Brunisholz had the last word, saying being blamed, “sometimes in outrageous fashion,” was disheartening.