At the first board meeting in April, the board reorganized electing Greg Van Houten, chair, and Sharyn Brush, vice chair. This meeting featured a presentation on the Pleasant Street Enhancement project. This grant-supported project will bring wider sidewalks, streetscape improvements, and historic light fixtures to School Street from Main to Pleasant and similar improvements, except for the lighting to the first block of Pleasant Street moving east. The town plans additional sidewalk work beyond the scope of this project continuing to the east.
At the March 24 meeting, the board voted to support a grant application for 24 units of permanent affordable rental housing on South Street. The first April meeting concerns were raised about this project ranging from its financing to its potential tenants and income sensitivity. Following the board meeting, the Vermont Community Development Department noted that it had some minor concerns with the public hearing notice. The state asked that a new public hearing be warned. Shires Housing has agreed. At this writing, the hearing date will be May 12, 2014, a regular select board meeting. I have suggested to the select board chair that the board not take up this project and the concerns until that public hearing. At the hearing, everyone should be able to be heard.
In spite of the recent snow, one can feel that spring is in the air. That means Green Up Day is just around the corner. This year, Green Up Day falls on Saturday, May 3. Residents are encouraged to help clean up the roadsides from 8 am until noon that day. Bags are available at the town offices. An individual or group may register for a stretch of roadway or neighborhood by stopping in to reception or calling 802-442-1037. We ask that you register in order that town crews can collect the bags of trash the following Monday in the most efficient way.
On Saturday, May 3, the town and Southwest Vermont Health Care will be sponsoring a Youth Appreciation Day from noon to 4 p.m. This event will be held at the Ross Pavilion at Willow Park. The following Saturday, May 10, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., the town will be conducting its Household Hazardous Waste Collection event at the Bennington transfer station. The town is contracting with Clean Harbors to run the event. The event is open and free to the residents of Bennington and Woodford. Small businesses may also bring materials; however, they must contact the manager’s office to make arrangements, and they must pay for the collection and disposal of the materials they drop off. Following the event, the Town will send invoices to these businesses.
Water and sewer fund budgets are being prepared. We present these budgets to the select board in May. The water fund budget at first glance indicates only a 3.3 percent increase. I have yet to review it with Terry Morse, our water resources superintendent. Terry and his staff do a pretty good job of building the budget and defending it so I am pleased with the initial proposal. We continue to review the water system issues with an eye to a second bond vote in July. At this point, there appear to be only two options, the original, and a second slightly less expensive option. Given the water system configuration, there are two optimal locations for the pump station and the water tank which correct the deficiencies. The cost differential is created when we determine how to connect the two facilities.
We will hold another public hearing when the board has determined how it wants to proceed. Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 802-442-1037 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.