Town Manager’s Column: All About Town (March)

ALL ABOUT TOWNIMG_3585

Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

March Town Meeting is concluded. We welcome Jim Carroll back to the Select Board, and we welcome Donald Campbell as our new Select Board member. On a brief historical note, Donald is the son of Duncan A. Campbell. Duncan was a member of the Bennington Planning Commission that offered me the Zoning Administrator’s position back in 1973. And as they say, the rest is history.

The voters approved the Town’s budget 2.7 to 1. We all thank you for your very strong support. I believe it is a measure of how the voters feel about town government. All agencies received positive support from the voters except two, One World Conservation Center and WBTN. The advisory vote on the question of adding fluoride to the municipal system failed. One can’t say that the question wasn’t well vetted. In the end, in my opinion, for some it was a matter of opposition and for others, a matter of choice.

Last month, I wrote about positive economic signs that are beginning to take hold only to learn the very next day that Plasan North America was relocating to Michigan. We have met with Plasan’s leadership and understand their need to consolidate operations. We also learned about the current contract fulfillment that is continuing here in Bennington. The company, once again, plans to treat its remaining employees very well. Given the current job market, I believe most will find employment when the closure occurs. I know that the State Department of Labor and Commerce and Community Development Agencies are ready to offer assistance when it’s needed. At the local level, the Town and BCIC are also making plans to assist any way we can.

The Benmont Avenue bridge project is now underway. Remember, one way traffic will be maintained. It will be that traffic coming from the south heading north. Southbound traffic will be detoured to Route 7 and County Street or other streets with connections back to Route 9, Benmont Avenue, and points west. The State is considering additional measures to address the confusion drivers are experiencing as they move in the southerly direction.

The fund drive for Bennington in Bloom 2015 is now underway. The Banner has agreed, once again, to sponsor a donation form in its paper. The Town will be mailing forms to those who have donated in the past. This year’s downtown planting design prepared by Sweet William Garden Design looks stunning and vibrant. Bennington in Bloom is also planning to re-plant the island at Benmont Avenue and Northside Drive and has successfully helped design the plantings in the new roundabout at the entrance to Monument Plaza. Redstone Development will fund this effort. The Town will maintain it. The committee’s design will work for all public plantings along Northside Drive to further enhance the traveler’s experience. It will take time and money to complete.

Now that temperatures are rising, the Town and its residents are experiencing water line and sewer line freeze ups. Why now? Apparently, the warmer surface temperatures drive the frost deeper. We appreciate the patience and understanding of those we are attempting to help. We are not the only community suffering from this problem. Of course, many of us will now see water in the basement or ice dams backing water into interior spaces. Do your best to get snow away from the exterior walls and remove as much of the roof ice and snow as you can…above all be careful and be safe.

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.