The PFOA contamination issue and response continues. Personnel from the Vermont Department of Conservation reported to the Select Board at the June 27 Bennington Select Board meeting. A subsequent public meeting was held at Bennington College. Testing continues in the lower Chapel Road area. The Town and the North Bennington Water Board have been asked to contact impacted property owners to determine interest in connecting to municipal water. If you wish to have your well tested, please go to http://dec.vermont/commissioners-office/pfoa.
For Bennington, letters to all those living in impacted areas have been mailed. A postage pre-paid postcard is included for property owners' response. We ask that you return the postcard no later than Aug. 31. It is very important that you respond. It will help the state and the town gauge property owner interest in connecting to municipal water. This documentation will play an important role in future negotiations with the potentially responsible party(s). If you have had your well tested but don't have the results, please fill out the postcard anyway indicating your desire to connect or not and return it. Please fill in your return address. Some folks have not included their return address. We can't know who you are or where you are without it.
The SVSU Act 46 Study Committee has expanded to include community members. Donald Campbell, Anne Mook, and Marie Shutts have been invited to join the BSD contingent. This Committee is discussing the potential consolidation of the various elementary school districts within the SVSU. If completely successful, a new governing entity will be created replacing the SVSU and MAU with a combined K – 12 education board. There is a potential for a reduction in the educational tax rate as well for all districts over the next 5 years. The next meeting of this committee is scheduled for August 16th at the SVSU offices. I encourage all residents of the SVSU to follow these proceedings. This is one of the most important discussions undertaken in decades concerning our education system and its governance.
The Bennington Select Board has voted to sell the approximately 6 acre Barney Road parcel to the State of Vermont for a truck chain up area. Required by law, a notice of the sale should be posted soon. The State will pay the Town $40,000 and meet certain site conditions such as landscaping and parking for access to the Roaring Branch River for recreational purposes. The monies will be placed in the Pathway reserves to provide local match funding for several pathway projects now underway.
The Select Board also passed the Property Maintenance Ordinance (Article 30). Its purpose is to abate public nuisances and prevent, reduce, and eliminate dangers to the health, safety, and welfare of the community associated with neglected or abandoned properties. It excludes owner-occupied single family and two family homes.
This coming weekend celebrates Bennington Battle Day. Members of the USS Bennington will be in town Saturday to conduct the Memorial Service ceremony at the Bell Memorial on the lawn of the Town Offices at noon. A donated US Flag flown from the Bennington during the Apollo 4 retrieval will fly this weekend.
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.