MAU concession stand at standstill

Friday April 26, 2013


Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- There’s some confusion with who pays what when out of a grant for a planned concession stand at the middle school athletic fields.

The outdoor concession stand has been envisioned since early 2011 by a subcommittee of the Mount Anthony Union Middle School Parents, Teachers, and Students Association, which has raised about $14,000 toward the project to date.

The project secured an additional $5,000 Recreational Facilities Grant in December 2011 from the state Department of Buildings and General Services, which was issued to the MAU school district.

But those grant funds haven’t yet been made available for the project, according to the co-chair of the PTSA subcommittee, Marlena Pellon.

"It’s 14 months later, the funds still haven’t been released to the committee," Pellon told MAU school board members Monday. "I’m here to ask when are these funds going to be released?"

Can’t move without grant

Pellon said the committee had completed engineering and elevation drawings and was ready for work to begin, but couldn’t move forward with purchasing a septic unit without the grant.

"Now we’re at a standstill," she told the school board. "We find ourselves in the same position, saying, ‘Board, what’s going on? Why have these funds not been released?’" Pellon questioned whether the funds still existed.

Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union Business Manager Richard Pembroke responded by saying the grant stipulated that an equal matching share be spent first.

"The state said make sure it’s a matching grant. Once they’ve spent $5,000, you can issue the other $5,000," Pembroke said, continuing to say he had made a fiduciary commitment to the state and that the PTSA had not yet demonstrated it had spent the matching amount.

The original grant application states that as part of the application process, documentation of a one-to-one financial match must be provided, not including in-kind contributions.

The concession stand’s completed application shows $9,650 in committed project funding.

MAU Chairwoman Sean-Marie Oller said school officials wanted to see the project resolved and the grant moneys were held secure in a fund. "The money is not lost," she said.

"I think if everyone is in the same room, and not through emails and phone calls, we could get this resolved," Oller said.

The approximate cost of the concession building is expected at $68,000, half of which is for a town sewer connection for bathrooms, although that amount doesn’t factor in-kind services that could cut the final cost, Pellon said Thursday.

An advisory article on the MAU ballot in March 2012 regarding the concession stand received minority approval, 47 percent.

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