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  • Writer's pictureUnderhill Jericho Fire Department

Rivers Land Update

September 16, 2016 The Rivers Property at 275 Browns Trace was gifted in 1986 to the UJFD by Alice Rivers and the farm consists of 125+/- acres and includes the barn and house and is currently appraised by the Town of Jericho at $2,860,000 with property taxes at $51,434.00. The UJFD is not tax-exempt on this property but have applied for VT Current Use Program. Why was it given to the UJFD? "Because the UJFD has always been good to Donald and I" stated Alice Riivers 12/23/1986 Who is the UJFD The UJFD is a non-profit corporation organized in 1913 and receives 60% of its funding from Jericho and 40% from Underhill based on grandlist; population; and call volume How many emergency calls does the UJFD respond to? During 2014-2015 we responded to 300 to 350 emergency calls a year How often do you train? Every Tuesday night plus committees meet other nights of the week Is the UJFD rated? Currently the UJFD has one of the best ISO ratings in Vermont (in 2015 there were only four fire departments in Vermont with a better rating, including full time departments) ISO is a rating system used by most insurance companies for property located within 5 miles of a fire station. The UJFD has a 4-6 which most people see a $400 to $600 savings on their Homeowners Insurance ($200,000 property value) on the same property value their fire department assessment is $100 At the Jericho Selectboard Meeting 9/15/2016 The UJFD gave a short power point presentation and the next to the last slide said: "WE ARE GOING TO GIVE YOU THE WHOLE FARM", you could have heard a pin drop and then the capacity room broke into applause. The UJFD members present all shook the hands of the Jericho Selectboard to seal the deal. The offer has two conditions: The UJFD have a Life Lease of their Training Center; The Town of Jericho must complete the paper work by Oct 1, 2016 Thank you to the Town of Jericho (and Underhill) for always supporting our budget, we appreciate working with you and are looking forward to many more years of saving the taxpayers money with lower insurance rates as well as quality protection. Why are you giving this land to the Town of Jericho? We have been working with the Town for the last three years on the purchase and we have also been working with developers and solar companies, however we finally realized after 30 years that there are just not enough hours to train, attend emergency calls and deal with a 125+/- acre farm and to give the people of Jericho and Underhill the quality service they deserve, therefore we decided to get out of the land business. Sincerely, The Members of the Underhill-Jericho Fire Department July 14, 2015 The Town of Jericho has decided to end negotiations after making four different offers that were all rejected by the UJFD membership at a Special Meeting held June 2, 2015. It was also decided by the UJFD at that meeting to not do anything regarding the sale to an outside party until after the Town had sufficient time to discuss what they would like to do next. At a Jericho Selectboard meeting on June 8th the report was made to the Selectboard members and there was no encouragement by the board to continue negotiations therefore the UJFD has decided today (07/14/2015) to move forward with the sale of the property and are investigating various options. If you are reading this report and you are interested in purchasing said property, please contact Honorary Chief Randy H. Clark, 802 373 4692, Clark is the Chairman of the Rivers Land Committee. Presently the property is listed on Craig’s List as well as March 13, 2015 On Monday March 9, the respective Rivers Land Committees met and introductions were made all around. The process for upcoming meetings was discussed. Agendas will be posted with Public to be Heard followed by Executive Session/Real Estate. The public period will be for those wishing to share their concerns or comments. It will be strictly for listening, neither side will reply. A joint public statement will be put on the UJFD and TOJ’s websites with a link posted on FPF. The current status was discussed as well as how to proceed going forward. The goal as was re-iterated, is how best to meet the objectives and is acceptable to all parties. The next meeting is TBD. It will be either March 30 or April 13. March 1, 2015 The Town of Jericho has contacted the UJFD and advised that the town voted on Nov. 4, 2014 to pursue the purchase of all or parts of the Rivers property. The ToJ has formed a new committee to meet with the UJFD Rivers Land Negotiating Committee: "The primary question the SelectBoard and the committee would like to ask of the RLC is if it is interested in continuing negotiations on the property, working towards an agreement that includes a more public process so that in the end a proposal can be put forward that the townspeople will be comfortable with and accept?" The first meeting will be held on March 9th 9/10/14 The UJFD held their bi-monthly business meeting on September 9, 2014 and after more than an hour of discussing the pros and cons of selling the Rivers Land to the Town of Jericho at the terms reached by the two negotiating committees, the majority of the UJFD membership present voted...YES. See the attached document for the details, conditions and terms of the sale. Randy H. Clark RLC Chairman 4/1/14 Rivers' Property status: The negotiating committees of the Town of Jericho and the UJFD met Monday night. The UJFD presented its suggested modifications to the Town's proposal of several weeks ago. Tentative agreement was reached on most items but a few require further discussion. The two committees plan to meet again in two weeks. Progress regarding the Rivers Property 3/20/14 The Negotiating Committee of the UJFD met with the full Rivers’ Land Committee (RLC) on the proposal provided by the Town of Jericho Negotiating Committee on Feb 24. The RLC feels that they would be willing to support and put forth a recommendation to the membership of the full UJFD that the latter accept the "Simple Agreement” option proposed by the Town negotiating committee with a few minor changes. The two committees agreed to meet on March 31 to review and discuss the RLC’s suggested changes. 2-24-14 At a meeting of the negotiating committees of Jericho Town and the UJFD on Monday night (Feb 24th) at the Town Hall, the Town committee presented its proposal for the transfer of the Rivers' Property to community ownership. It also provided written copies of the two independent valuations that the Town had commissioned. There was substantial discussion and numerous questions. At the end the UJFD committee indicated that all their clarifying questions had been answered but that there was not enough time for the UJFD as a whole to provide a response prior to Town Meeting. In view of this, the Town committee requested an extension of the March 1 deadline for 45 days to provide the UJFD with sufficient time for its internal processes and for any additional meetings which may be needed to bring the matter to a successful conclusion." Joint public announcement on progress ref. Rivers’ Property: 2-7-14 “Progress regarding the Rivers Property: on January 10, the Town negotiating committee submitted a proposal to the UJFD negotiating committee. This was discussed by the UJFD internally. On February 3, the two negotiating Committees met again. At this meeting the UJFD committee raised a number of questions that had come up during the UJFD’s internal discussions. All of these questions were answered by the Town committee. The discussion was cordial and positive with a number of constructive ideas coming from both sides. Both committees agreed that there is one major remaining piece of information that is still outstanding: the professional appraisal of the market value of the property. When that is complete, the Town will provide the next iteration of its proposal, based on the discussion on Feb 3 and the appraisal, to the UJFD negotiating committee for their consideration and the consideration of the UJFD as a whole. The expectation is that this will be done by the end of the third week of February in order to leave enough time to nail down more of the details before March 1. Draft joint statement 12-17-13 The negotiating committees of the Jericho Select Board and the Underhill-Jericho Fire Department regarding the Rivers’ Property held their first meeting at 7:00 on Monday 12/16/2013 at the Jericho Town Hall. The committees decided that:

At least one independent appraisal of the property would be undertaken to establish a current fair market value of the property. The Jericho Selectboard will engage an appraiser for this purpose and the UJFD may choose to do so as well;

based on the discussions during the meeting, the Jericho Select Board committee would prepare a draft proposal for transferring ownership of the property to an appropriate community organization;

the above draft proposal would be transmitted to the UJFD Committee on or before January 10, 2014 for the latter’s consideration and such modification as they feel is warranted;

both parties agreed that it is in everyone’s interest to work diligently, with a sense of urgency, and to avoid any unnecessary delay in reaching an agreement upon a transfer of ownership of the Rivers property from the UJFD to an appropriate community organization;

as with this statement, updates on the negotiations will be communicated to the community through joint public statements. The substance of the negotiations will be kept confidential among the two committees and their respective principals until an appropriate time agreed by both parties.

Timothy Nulty: for the Jericho Select Board Committee Randy H. Clark: for the UJFD Committee

December 9, 2013 2nd. Informational Meeting for the River’s Land Chief Todd welcomed everyone attending, there was one Jericho Select board member and five residents of Underhill and Jericho along with several UJFD members present. “Tonight’s Meeting – why are we here”. A slide presentation by Randy H. which was the same as the 1st. Informational Meeting was presented. Which included the history of the River’s Land, how many times the River’s actually had to call us through the years for help. The need for the Jericho Station in order to reduce insurance premiums. If you live 1000 feet from a fire hydrant or live five miles from a fire station you save money on insurance, so that is why the River’s donated three acres to build the station. Our goal was to sell the 125 acres for 1.5 million and invest the proceeds of the sale, use the income to offset the costs of operating which would benefit all the people that we serve. An explanation of the Deed to the UJFD and the River’s Land Agreement which was dated March 1, 1987. We are looking for your support to back the UJFD while we work with the town of Jericho to come up with a plan for the land including the house and barn, which they will then present to us by March 1, 2014. Tim Nulty, select person of the Town of Jericho reported on the plans that they are working on to arrange the disposal of the property, what to do with the property. They want four persons on the committee and would like the UJFD to appoint a committee. There are a number of possibilities for this property. Meeting was then turned over to 1st. Assist. Chief Mat Champlin. We would like a solution to benefit both the UJFD, the Town of Jericho and the Town of Underhill. “UJFD Contract Consideration by 9C2” with a slide presentation. Fire Service Agreement with both towns, River’s property – Gravel Pit, house and barn. Act 250 and Town of Jericho permits. Mat explained the Firefighter’s Fund, Payroll report 2012, Grants, Capital Plan, Ladder Truck, Major inventory list , Apparatus, cost of the UJFD, the benefits of the UJFD being a private corporation followed by a budget comparison of other departments in our area. Many good questions were asked throughout each presentation.

11/22/2013 The Underhill-Jericho Fire Department has scheduled the 2nd Informational Meeting regarding the Rivers Land (the information to be presented will be the same as at the 1st meeting). The meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 9th at 7 PM at the Underhill-Jericho Fire Station, 420 VT RT15, Underhill. All interested parties are invited to attend.

11/20/2013 Hi All, We had approximately 50 people at our first public information meeting on Nov 18th. Chief Fischer welcomed the people there and turned the meeting over to Randy H for a 45 minute Power Point presentation which consisted of a brief history of the UJFD and Rivers Land donation and agreement. The meeting was then turned over to the Jericho Selectboard (all members were present) and Chair Catherine McMains gave a brief summary of their plans that were posted on Front Porch Forum and that they expect to have a plan in place by March 1, 2014. After a few minutes the group took part in an active discussion with their suggestions and questions directed to Randy H; Chief; and Mat Champlin; also the three selectboard members participated in the discussion. The meeting ended at 9:15 and most people stayed the duration. The committee was pleased with the turn out and the discussion that followed. We would like to host the next meeting two weeks from November 18th which would be December 4th. Randy H. RLC Spokes Person

From the Jericho Selectboard 11/16/2013: Dear UJFD Chief's, We understand that it is the goal of the UJFD to eventually divest itself from the Rivers property. It has become very clear that doing so has created immense concern among the public about the future of the Rivers' property without UJFD ownership. In an attempt to determine if other options exist that will meet the needs of the UJFD and community, we respectfully request that the UJFD delay any sale or agreement to sell the property until March 1, 2014. In the meantime, we would request your cooperation in identifying and analyzing options. We look forward to working with you. Signed, Jericho Selectboard

November 14, 2013 Media Release The Underhill-Jericho Fire Department was presented with a gift in 1986, which was a farm consisting of 125+- acres, a house and a barn. When this gift was presented the only stipulations were that the Grantor, Mary Alice Rivers, reserved a life estate of the house and three acres of land as well as the income from a gravel pit located on the property. Two months later an agreement was signed between Mrs. Rivers and the UJFD which stated:

The property will be managed or sold in a manner which offers maximum long term benefit to the UJFD.

Any monetary proceeds realized by the UJFD through the use or sale of a portion or all the property will be placed in a Trust Type account which will be called the "Rivers Fund".

Only interest monies earned from the Rivers Fund will be used to defray UJFD operating expenses or debt.

The UJFD, after nearly 27 years, has now decided to sell the property including the house and the barn for $1.5 Million Dollars. The UJFD's Membership through its committee wishes to inform the taxpayers of Jericho and Underhill their reasons for wanting to sell this prime real estate and will conduct the first public Informational Meeting at the Underhill-Jericho Fire Station located at 420 VT RT15 in Underhill on Monday at 7pm November 18th. All interested parties are encouraged to attend. Also anyone may look at the UJFD's web site,, where the committee will post information regarding the sale of the property as well as dates and times of future meetings. Respectfully submitted, Honorary Chief Randy H. Clark RLC Spokesperson

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