LPOS discusses Fenn Farm repairs, sets farm tour date

The Middlebury Land Preservation and Open Space Acquisition Committee (LPOS) at its July 16 meeting discussed upcoming Fenn Farm maintenance and repairs. It also set Saturday, Sept. 27, as the annual tour date.
Chairman John Cookson opened the meeting by introducing Ray Pietrorazio, who was appointed by the Board of Selectmen July 7 to replace Matt Calabro, who recently moved from Middlebury and resigned. Cookson then updated members on the need for removing asbestos from pipes in the farmhouse basement. During a discussion of the winter replacement of an old 2,600-pound cast iron furnace with a new unit at an informal meeting March 5, Cookson said the removal was necessary. That necessity was questioned April 2 by Pietrorazio, who was attending as a member of the public, and on May 7 by LPOS member James Crocicchia.
Cookson said he would get a statement on the insurance requirement from Public Works Director Dan Norton and speak to Torrington Area Health District (TAHD) representative Rob Rubbo on documenting the need for the removal. In his update, Cookson said an asbestos sample needed to be examined by the TAHD to determine if the cardboard covering was peeling, in which case the asbestos would need to be removed. He also said removal was needed because Robin Fenn still lives in the house and goes into the basement. He told member Richard Spierto the removal was wanted by Public Works Director Dan Norton, Building Inspector Ollie Leduc and by First Selectman Edward B. St. John. A report on the asbestos was expected from the TAHD in about three weeks.
In major repairs, Cookson said the cow barn roof had leaked considerably in recent storms. He said Woodbury structural engineer Robert Richardson would examine the barn in about a week and prepare a written estimate on the technical work needed so bids could be solicited. He said Richardson had done a similar estimate on horse-barn repairs in the past. Regarding that barn, Cookson said funding for horse-barn repairs had been submitted in the upcoming capital expenditure budget. Pietrorazio and member Pat Dwyer asked to accompany Richardson when he examined the cow barn. Cookson told Crocicchia Richardson’s estimate would cost about $4,000 to prepare, based on what the town paid for earlier estimates.
In maintenance items, Cookson said field haying had been completed with the exception of one swampy area where tractors could not travel, and an exterminator had to be called in May for carpenter bees in the chicken coop, garage and cow barn. Regarding farmhouse painting, he said Rhino-Shield had asked to take another look at the house and possibly make a proposal.
Repainting has been discussed since May 2013 with no decision due to the high cost of removing linseed oil from the clapboards if they are to be painted. Discussion of vinyl siding or Rhino-Shield on the historic structure had drawn criticism from the public. Crocicchia showed members an article from a September 2013 Boston Globe article that said Rhino-Shield peeled away from treated clapboards and cautioned against its use. Cookson said painting was on hold anyway, due to the expected high cost of the cow-barn roof repairs.
The annual Fenn Farm tour was set for Saturday, Sept. 27. Ray Pietrorazio agreed to co-chair the event but told Cookson he’d be unavailable earlier in the month.
The next regular LPOS meeting will be Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 6 p.m. at Shepardson Community Center unless the Richardson report is not available. In that case, the regular meeting will be canceled and a special meeting scheduled.


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