SVC discussion, possible land donation on table for Select Board meeting

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BENNINGTON — Monday's upcoming Select Board meeting is to include a discussion about Southern Vermont College, a presentation on natural playground equipment and an offer from the One World Conservation Center to donate a 96-acre nature preserve to the town.

The approximately 20-minute SVC discussion, following the meeting's regularly-scheduled public comment session, is thought to be presented by a "senior SVC official," said Assistant Town Manager Dan Monks. However, it is unclear what the specific topic of the discussion will be. SVC announced earlier this month that it will be shutting its doors at the end of the spring semester.

Following the discussion about SVC, representatives from a design firm and the Health Department will make a presentation about natural playground equipment that is proposed to be installed at the Stark Street Playground. A plan included in the Select Board packet shows "nature play zones," a quarter-mile walking track, a sports lawn, a play court, a bioretention basin, and a pump track— a mountain bike training track that is currently being installed.

Additionally, the One World Conservation Center (OWCC) has offered to give the 96-acre Greenberg Conservation Reserve off of route 7 south to the town. According to a memorandum from the town, the OWCC is in the process of dissolving and must dispose of its assets, including the reserve, in accordance with a dissolution plan.

The Select Board will be asked to have a motion to accept the donation, which is encouraged by Monks in the memorandum.

"The Greenberg Reserve would be a valuable addition to Town-owned parks and open space in the southeastern part of Town," reads the memorandum. "In particular, acquisition of the priority would facilitate a trail system spanning from route 7 South to route 9 East..."

The reserve is mostly forested with a moderate hiking trail system, a boardwalk-style wetland overlook, and a sturdy bridge that crosses Jewett Brook. It was previously used for summer nature camps, nature workshops, and educational classes of all levels.

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