Town wins grant for kiosk project

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BENNINGTON — The town has won a grant to support the design and fabrication of a kiosk that will display information about historic properties, cultural attractions and recreational sites in the Bennington area.

The town's Historic Preservation Commission, which advises the Development Review Board, Select Board and Planning Commission on preservation-related matters, has not yet selected an exact spot for the kiosk, but the site of the uncompleted splash pad or the future open space behind the Putnam Block redevelopment project are potential locations, said Shannon Barsotti, the town's community development director and a member of the commission, who is managing the project.

"We know that people are coming to Bennington to visit our famous historic sites and enjoy our many outdoor recreation opportunities, but current information downtown does not include a 'you are here' map of downtown" in relation to those attractions, Barsotti wrote in an email on Wednesday.

The federally funded grant of $4,912 was awarded through the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation's Certified Local Government program. The required local contribution, which includes in-kind services, will bring the total project cost to about $8,186, according to the town's application.

The proposal estimates that the commission, in consultation with the Better Bennington Corporation's design committee, will finalize the kiosk's content and design this spring before it seeks proposals from contractors to further design and build the project. Installation would happen sometime this summer or fall, according to the proposal.

The kiosk will also feature QR codes that link to online maps and walking tours, according to the proposal. Printed walking tour brochures will also be made available.

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The town has won grants through the same program many times since the 1980s, according to the local commission's website, including in 1997 for the current kiosk located near the Four Corners. That kiosk will remain, Barsotti said.

The new kiosk will echo the design of the older one but will feature fewer than four posts, according to Barsotti, who shared preliminary renderings.

Barsotti already has been working with graphic designer Jonah Spivak, a principal of Spectrum Design, on updating maps of historic sites — work that will inform the new kiosk's content.

The new project ties into ongoing efforts to market Bennington as a tourist destination, said John Shannahan, executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation.

"We know that when visitors come to Bennington, we want to be able to direct them from site to site, because there is so much to do here," he said.

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