skate park

Voters will be asked to approve $50,000 in spending that would leverage a $250,000 donation to complete the second phase of the Manchester Skatepark. 

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MANCHESTER — The town will told its 2022 Town Meeting as it did last year, with a virtual informational meeting and Australian ballot voting on March 1.

The Manchester Select Board set the warning Tuesday night, including a $6.25 million budget expected to raise the town share of property taxes by 2.99 percent. It also includes votes on bond authorizations for water and sewer projects, completion of the Manchester Skatepark, purchasing the Manchester Rail Trail and allowing the retail sale of cannabis.

The budget proposal, which passed unanimously, made a few changes from the first draft. While it includes $50,000 for the Manchester Business Association’s marketing program, the budget moves two other MBA-related proposals — an additional $20,000 in marketing funds, and a $20,000 marketing partnership between the MBA and Riley Rink — into the list of candidates for ARPA funding.

Also, funding for replacing the roof of the Bennington County Courthouse in Manchester Village, which the town owns, has been postponed for a year.

Making the cut is a $15,00 part-time position for parking enforcement and patrols at Dana M. Thompson Memorial Park.

Two significant additions for the park are also on the ballot.

Voters will be asked to approve $50,000 in reserve fund fund dollars, as matching funds for a $250,000 donation what would help complete the second phase of the Manchester Skatepark. The town still has $93,000 remaining in its skatepark fund, and those dollars would leave proponents just $107,000 short of a $500,000 to build out the remaining plan for the facility.

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A proposed field house that would be shared among the region’s towns is also on the warning, as a nonbinding advisory question. Towns taking part in funding the project, which would include an indoor track, multipurpose courts and a climbing tower, would be eligible for preferred membership pricing.

The town will also ask voters to purchase the Manchester Rail Trail for $120,000. And that ballot question asks if voters will approve $50,000 from a reserve fund to improve a recreation trail leading from Thompson Park to North Road.

The draft version of the warning included a pair of cannabis related questions: one allowing for retail sales in town, and another that would approve integrated licenses for the cultivation production and sale of cannabis products. But town officials learned Tuesday that the integrated license question was not needed and removed it, the reason being that state law will allow those uses once Vermont’s regulated marketplace opens in October.

Also on the ballot are bond authorizations for two infrastructure projects: A sewer line extension on Main Street from Cemetery Avenue to Hunter Park Road, and another to replace and improve the Richville Road water main.

The authorizations would allow borrowing of up to $1.9 million for the sewer project, and $1.27 million for the water project, but in both cases, the costs are expected to be defrayed by grant funding and user fees.

Voter appropriations to public service agencies and nonprofit groups include a new proposal for 2023: An $87,000 appropriation to the Northshire Day School. Also on the ballot are $243,700 for the Manchester Community Library, an amount that has remained level for the past few years, and $10,000 for the Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging.

Greg Sukiennik covers government and politics for Vermont News & Media. Reach him at gsukiennik@benningtonbanner.com.

Greg Sukiennik has worked at all three Vermont News & Media newspapers and was their managing editor from 2017-19. He previously worked for ESPN.com, for the AP in Boston, and at The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass.


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