Town Manager’s Column: All About Town (June 2016)

IMG_3585ALL ABOUT TOWN

by Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

Last year at this time, I outlined all the pedestrian and bike path projects the Town was working on. I am pleased to tell you that, in every instance, but the Franklin Lane project, we’ve made headway.

Kocher Drive, from Aldi to East Road: This project involves a shared use bike path with signalized intersection improvements at Route 7/Kocher Drive. We are in the final design phase.

The Ninja Trail, from Hicks Avenue to Bennington College entrance: this proposed path is 2.12 miles long beginning at the pedestrian bridge on Hicks Avenue and running along the Walloomsac River behind Walmart and Hannaford to the entrance to Bennington College. Within a matter of weeks the Town will construct the portion from the Bennington College entrance to Hannaford. The Walmart segment is completed. We are working with Hannaford and Gordon Development to finalize an easement along the river. We are negotiating with the Federal Highway Administration to allow the trail to pass under Route 279. Federal funds have been secured for this project. It is planned to be phased in over the next 3 years.

Benmont Avenue Bike/Ped Improvements, from the Holden/Leonard Mill complex to Hunt Street: A state and federal grant has been secured. A design consultant will be selected this month.

Bennington Rail/Trail, at long last, the final design is moving forward incorporating the run around rail at the western terminus of the trail. Construction is projected to begin in 2018.

Applegate to Willowbrook Path: This project will connect these two developments with a shared use path that will provide safe passage to Northside Drive. Design is complete. Fund raising for the local share, now 20% thanks to the Legislature, is underway. Schedule for completion 2017.

Pleasant Street/School Street Enhancements, focusing only on Pleasant Street this year, this project is ready to go. Sidewalks are in. Paving will take place soon. The School Street portion still requires some easements before proceeding.

Franklin Lane: This project is on hold until new owners of the Putnam complex are in place and a plan for development in place.

Greenberg Headwaters Park Trail Network: This recently acquired parcel already has an existing network of trails. The Park is now open. Kiosks and trails are in. Parking areas are installed. The kayak launch is in design. The permitting process has begun for the bog bridges. Schedule for completion: 2017 The Management Plan has been approved.

The PFOA contamination issue and response continues. Personnel from the VT Department of Conservation will be at the June 27th Select Board meeting with a full report. Testing continues. The Town and the North Bennington Water Board have been asked to expand the preliminary engineering studies. Negotiations on payment are underway.

The SVSU Act 46 Study Committee is expanding to include community members. Donald Campbell, Anne Mook, and Marie Shutts have been invited to join the BSD contingent. While this committee continues to move forward without much media coverage or public participation, I dare say it is one of the most important discussions about our education system and its governance undertaken in decades.

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.