After five years on the Waterbury Select Board, Jane Brown isn’t seeking another term.
“After five years, it’s time,” Brown said.
Brown is a busy woman, balancing a full-time job as a landscape architect for the Vermont Agency of Transportation with her obligations with the Revitalizing Waterbury design committee, the tree committee, the land initiative, garden club and the select board. After town meeting, she’ll have one fewer to worry about.
“I would like to have fewer scheduled meetings in my life,” Brown said.
Brown has lived in Waterbury for 30 years and has a strong background in planning. She worked for a private engineering firm before spending four years in the VTrans planning department and 22 years so far in environmental services.
Rebecca Ellis, who’s now Congressman Peter Welch’s state director, asked Brown to run when she stepped down from the select board in 2014.
“She called me and asked me to run, and I did,” Brown said.
Brown was unopposed in 2015 for a one-year term.
And she jumped right into it. Verizon was looking to build a 90-foot-tall cellphone tower on North Hill, bordering Stowe, that year.
Brown said the project would disrupt a crucial wildlife corridor, now widely known as Shutesville Hill. The corridor is a primary connector between two vast tracts of forests.
“It’s not just some kind of wishful thinking that we have a conservation district there by a bunch of do-gooders,” Brown said in 2015.
The project ultimately died in October 2017.
“We stayed the course and had good legal representation and consultants,” Brown said. “That was a good outcome. It really is a critical wildlife corridor.”
The town’s progress
Brown praised the growth of Waterbury’s recreation program, and said the new director, Nick Nadeau, is doing a great job.
“The rec program has really grown in a positive way,” she said. “We were offering great things five years ago, and it’s really evolved.”
There’s been a lot of paving and culverts, she said, and then there’s the $21 million, three-year project to reconstruct Waterbury’s Main Street.
“That’s a pretty big deal,” she said.
Brown recalled the project being brought up at a meeting in the 1990s, and nearly 30 years later, it’s finally underway.
“It’s messy now, but it’ll be really great when it’s done,” she said.
Brown is the only select board member with a background in planning, and the only woman.
“It would be nice if some women step up,” she said. “We have a lot of strong women leadership in town.”
Three seats open
Three of the five seats on the Waterbury Select Board are open in elections March 3.
Board chair Chris Viens and incumbent Nathaniel Fish will both seek re-election.
The filing deadline is Jan. 27 for the three seats.
Brown said she never had any opposition in her elections.
“People come and people go, but we haven’t had any bruising elections,” she said.
Ugly politics can be detrimental in small-town government, Brown said, but she would like to see things shaken up a bit.
“People need to run for select board,” she said. “Let’s get some young people in there.”