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: Fairfax Park Seeks Skilled Labor  ( 1748 )
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« : August 04, 2005, 06:31:09 AM »

This week in photos - Myles Cahoon of Fairfax works on the town's new Community Park on Wednesday. The town has had difficulty
getting all the volunteer help it needs to complete the project.GLENN RUSSELL,Free Press

Published: Thursday, August 4, 2005
By Erica Jacobson
Free Press Staff Writer

FAIRFAX -- Ten years have passed since Fairfax bought a little more than 20 acres of former utility company land along a gentle bend
in the Lamoille River with the idea of giving the community a park complete with playing fields and a path.

Now, according to project manager Myles Cahoon, the park stands to lose tens of thousands of dollars in grant money if members
of the community don't volunteer both financial support and time to construct a playing field near the river. Despite calls to nearly all of
the town's contractors, Cahoon said, very few skilled construction workers have volunteered their time.

"I sympathize with the guys because they need to make their money in the summer," Cahoon said. "They're working 10-hour days as
well. ... People make choices whether they're going to make money or help their community."

Ed Nuttall, a member of the Fairfax Selectboard, said the town's transformation into more of a bedroom community is part
of the problem in finding people to help with the park. Newer residents often work elsewhere, Nuttall said. Fairfax is where they live to
get away from city life, he added, and steer clear of local issues.

"If you have that attitude," he said, "you don't have a lot of interest in what the town does unless it affects you."

The Fairfax Community Park project began when town government and BFA-Fairfax joined to develop about 20 acres along the Lamoille
River that had been bought from Central Vermont Public Service.

The idea quickly picked up support, Cahoon said, with several successful fund-raisers and pledges of support from BFA-Fairfax.
The momentum hit a snag, though, as researchers from the University of Vermont studied prehistoric fire rings found on the
site and delayed construction for several years. Then, it took several summers for the Vermont Army National Guard to finish
the weekend work of building a nearby athletic field as well as an access road and parking lot.

More recently, some businesses in the community have offered reduced rates on services and such materials as top-soil. Cahoon said
those donations will help the park planners get some of the $98,000 in matching funds, but he doubts the group will get grant
reimbursement for more than half of the money they've already spent. Either way, the work grading and seeding the field has to be
finished this year, according to Carol Lizotte, the inaugural director of the Fairfax Recreation Department.

"We can't leave it; we'd be in violation of our Act 250 permit," Lizotte said, "and that would bring fines and erosion."

For now, work on the park continues. Dump trucks deposited fill to be graded on a recent morning and bulldozer rumbled along a stretch
 of land that, once seeded and landscaped, will become a playing field. A sign at the entrance called the project a "work in progress."

The park group rented construction equipment in hopes that volunteer construction workers would donate their time, but
Cahoon said he has paid workers to run the equipment more often than not.

"We focused on the manpower and now that hasn't come through," Cahoon said. "We've got dozens of people who are willing
to help, but you can't do it with shovels and wheelbarrows."

Contact Erica Jacobson at 660-1843 or ejacobso@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com .

Henry Raymond
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