Pownal board hears proposal for race track


POWNAL -- During the Pownal Select Board's regular meeting Thursday night, the selectmen heard a proposal for the race track from Progress Partners, and gave the track owners approval to establish a permit with the state.

The board also granted money to establish an engineer to review design work on the new town office, approved the New England Greenway's passage through Pownal, granted the planning commission's request to hire a planning consultant for the town plan and went to bid for road crew equipment and maintenance.

After many project proposals in the past for the grounds of the Pownal race track, Green Mountain Park, from property owner, Project Partners, the group has developed a new proposal.

Steven Soler, Project Partner's managing partner and majority owner, came to the board of selectmen seeking its endorsement to use the facility for a series of music festivals in the summer of 2015.

The Project Partners require the endorsement to be able to go to local, regional and state agencies to obtain the correct permits it needs to go forward with the planning.

While the company is looking into other uses for space inside the building, it is looking at entertainment festivals next year as the foundation for an establish festival grounds for years to come.

As the site for more than 34,000 people at the 1996 Lollapalooza, the Soler said the Project Partners would need to see at least 10,000 people on the grounds for a two to three day festival in order to be profitable.

"The benefits of having this type of activity take place is to try and create some jobs in the community. One of the things that we are trying to push forward is to try and work with local businesses and source (products, services and craftsmen) locally."

From the board's approval, Project Partners wish to determine the logistics before the winter to acquire a roster and attract musicians by March of 2015. There will be no specific music genre or demographic range for the venue.

The board was skeptical of the plan going through due to past attempts that fell on the wayside. Soler responded, saying that Project Partners is working with marketers and event managers to see it though from more than the real-estate side of the process.

Without a motion or a vote, the board gave consent to Project Partners to go about the permitting process. As the company goes about their planning, they will be coming back to the board for updates several times before the end of the year.

Syd Smithers of the Pownal Planning Commission, asked Progress Partners to attend its next meeting to work the project proposal into some of the planning of the new town plan.

Every five years, the state of Vermont requires its municipalities to develop a new town plan. Smithers went to the board meeting on Thursday to ask for $5,000 to hire a planning consultant as an expression of approval and commitment to obtain a municipal planning grant to work into its town plan.

The town plan must have 13 components, as required by the state, including environmental, flood zoning and economic development goals.

"It's important that the town do this; It's important that the town do it right," Smithers said. "We think we have the right consultant We would urge the board of selectmen to do this for the good of the municipality."

The principal role of the planning consultant is to engage the community in the decision making for developing the plan. A series of public hearings will be announced in the future.

The board voted unanimously to grant the initial $5,000 to hire the consultant.

In the mail, the select board discovered LineSync Architects' request for $500 to hire a structural engineer to review plans for a new town office.

The motion to grant the architect a $500 payment passed 3-2, with dissenting votes from Richard Ryder and Ronnie Bisson. The dissent came from the belief that the hire of an engineer should have been factored into the $6,500 award to the architects to develop the plan.

After returning to New England Greenway's proposal to designate several roads in Pownal along it's U.S. 7 bicycle tour path, the board discussed the issue of needing to put up the supplied signs to designate the path.

The road foreman Casey Mattison said putting up the sign would be no trouble, but a couple select board members said they didn't agree with taking up the man hours to do it. "We are just taking up one more job. We already have all these other signs to put it up," Selectman Henry Strohmeier.

The motion to approve the bike path and place the provided signs on the route passed 3-2, with dissenting votes from Strohmeier and Bisson.

More than a dozen road signs have gone missing in the last few weeks, which was Strohmeier's point. The board is advising the public to report any suspicious behavior to the constable and take down a car license plate or an individual's characteristics if they see someone tampering with road signs.

Finally, the select board went to bid for road crew equipment and maintenance. The board unanimously approved to award a bid for crack sealing and top coating public roads and service drives in the amount of 14,000 tons of material. The board also unanimously granted a bid for an all-season 90-inch dump body and plow equipment for the new truck.

The board also passed the approval of over $2,200 for parts to repair the road crew's gravel crusher 3-2. The dissenting votes came from Selectmen Jason Olansky and Bisson, because they believe the town could purchase gravel rather than spending money on "outdated equipment."

The board is meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 6, to visit Casey Mattison's road crew operation and gravel mine. The next meeting for the board of selectmen is scheduled at the town offices on Thurs., Aug. 7, at 7 p.m.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions