Town Manager’s Column: All About Town (May 2015)

IMG_3585ALL ABOUT TOWN

by Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

One year ago, this column welcomed LaFlamme’s Furniture to downtown Bennington. Chris and Angela and their staff have created a wonderful addition to our downtown. It is so nice to see that space filled and, at night, lit for all to view. Across the street, Dollar General always appears busy.   Now we understand that TJ’s Fish Fry is coming back. That section of Main Street is coming alive. A number of new businesses have opened throughout the downtown. I dare not try to name them all for fear of leaving someone off the list, but to name a few: Cake, Owl’s Nest, Downtown Lost and Found, Bringing you Vermont/Café’ New England, Follow Your Heart. VSECU, a credit union, Here We Grow expanded, and a little further up the street, Donovan’s opened in the former Ryan’s. Two venerable businesses changed hands: Bennington Bookshop and the Gift Garden.

The signals at the Four Corners are working properly. It sure moves things along in a more efficient way. I’ve had one complaint that the pedestrian signal warnings are louder than before. We are looking into that. We continue to research better, more efficient options for those signals.

We are moving toward Mayfest, Bennington’s premier downtown event. Memorial Day follows and soon thereafter, Bennington in Bloom will, once again, brighten up the downtown streetscape thanks to Sweet William Garden Design.

The Town’s construction season kicks off with the beginning of the water tank installation and water system improvement project up above SVC. The contractors should be on site very soon. The Town’s paving projects are scheduled to start soon after July 1, 2015. We hope to pave approximately 9.5 miles of road. And yes, the projects include upper Elm Street. We are awaiting word on a State Class II paving grant to determine the maximum number of miles we can pave. Some of you may have noticed some manhole work on Northside Drive. I’m told that the State will be paving most of that road very soon. The area where the roundabout at Walmart will be left alone since that project looks to begin this summer. Of course, when these kinds of projects get into full swing, delays and road closings are sure to occur. Please exercise due care and patience when approaching and moving through any construction site or work zone.

The Select Board has begun learning about a process called the Balanced Scorecard, a performance measuring process originally developed for the corporate world. Some time ago, it was modified to be used by municipalities, a Municipal Report Card if you will. It will be used by the Board working with the staff to identify performance standards, develop appropriate ways to measure our successes and failures and report that to the community annually. So often, the Annual Report looks only ‘in the rearview mirror”. This process will not only do that, but look at how well we’re doing in the present and provide a direction for where we’d like to be in the future. It’s a long and involved process. It will be the one of the most in depth, collaborative ventures undertaken by a sitting Select Board in my memory.

On a more exasperating note, I see that tag sale signs are being nailed to street trees and telephone poles. Both actions are illegal. I am authorizing Town staff to remove these signs as soon as they are up. Please respect the law.

Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 442-1037 or stop in at the Town Offices on South Street.

Stuart Hurd is Bennington’s Town Manager. He writes a monthly column on town issues.