Monday July 15, 2013

Stuart Hurd

The July 4th fireworks were great. Many people have commented on the show. Those companies and individuals whose financial support made the fireworks possible deserve out thanks. I would hope that next year we can match or exceed this year’s efforts. Atlas Pyrovision from Jaffrey NH is responsible for the show.

At its last meeting, the Select Board voted to support the acquisition of a 140-acre parcel of mostly wetlands owned by the Greenberg family off Morgan Street. The cost to acquire would be borne by others; the town would become the owner, and the land conserved for public use. What a wonderful opportunity for the community. There may be future links to the World Conservation Center lands.

The board also heard from a coalition of individuals and groups, including the interfaith community, about the upcoming reduction in emergency housing monies by the State. Many families, now living in subsidized housing under emergency situations, may find themselves homeless. If you wish to help financially, I would recommend a donation to the Interfaith Council’s Food and Fuel Fund.

Let’s hope the rains have finally subsided. The town’s paving contractor should be in town soon. Some preparation work has been completed in some of the neighborhoods wherein we hope to improve the road surface. It should be a very busy construction season. Please do not get too frustrated by the work once it is in full swing. Delays and detours may be required in some areas.

The Water Resources Division is moving forward with a major water main replacement on Northside Drive. There are two phases remaining to complete this project. We hope to conclude all work on this troublesome water main in 2014. Ultimately, the entire water main from Hicks Avenue to Route 67A will be replaced.

I should mention here that a number of new businesses are open, preparing to open, or begin construction. Dollar General has its local permits and is prepared to construct a 9100 s.f. variety store across from the former Alcaro Motors on Main Street. Brown Computer Solutions is moving into 116 Benmont Avenue. In the downtown, Wave Clothing Store has opened; Knapp’s has moved onto Main Street; and a new antique and upholstery store has opened in the Putnam Hotel complex. A children’s clothing store, Earthy, Crunchy Mamma is planning to expand into the former Knapp’s space on North Street.

Merchants Bank continues its renovations to the former Wendy’s on Northside Drive. Walmart is looking to 2014 to begin construction of its new complex. There are other projects/businesses in discussion with our Permitting Department; however, I am not permitted to disclose themÅ yet.

At the next Select Board meeting, the board will set the municipal tax rate. During the budget process last January, we projected a small rate increase in the range of 3.3 percent. That did not anticipate any growth in the Grand List. We are anxiously awaiting the state’s education tax rates. The process was delayed due to BSD’s budget not passing as originally planned. We do not want to find that we must bill school taxes twice, once on an interim rate, the second on the final rate. That will add to the BSD’s cost at a time when monies are truly tight.

Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 442-1037 or stop in at the Town Offices on South Street.

Stuart Hurd is Bennington’s Town Manager. He writes a monthly column on town issues.