Town Manager’s Column – August

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

The Putnam Redevelopment Project is underway! Work is proceeding very quickly. At the rear of the building demolition is taking place while in the historic block interior demolition and clean-up is happening.

Work continues at the Stark Street playground. Employees from Home Depot will be providing volunteer hours over two days later this month to help construct the natural playground equipment. Materials are being donated as well. The walking pathway is nearly finished leaving only the bathrooms as the last major improvement to be undertaken.

The splash pad problems at Merchants Park have yet to be resolved with the vendor/contractor. It now looks like court action will be necessary to get things resolved. It’s too bad, but the Town has little choice. The bathroom and stage are nearly ready for use. Landscaping and final grading will not be finished until the splash pad problems are resolved. We will it look more presentable in the meantime.

At the Wastewater Treatment facility upgrade, we are experiencing odor problems due to the construction upgrade. The primary digesters are off line while being upgraded causing a gap in the treatment process. This is creating odors. We are working with our engineers and the State to find a way to mitigate this problem. We are also pushing the contractor to move faster on the upgrades. We believe this problem will be resolved once at least one of the primary digesters is back on line.

The Police Department Assessment consultant has been selected with the assistance of Curtiss Reed, Vermont Partnership for Diversity and Fairness. The firm selected is the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The cost for this assessment will be $66,000, an amount not budgeted. Working with our Finance Director, Melissa Currier, we have managed to set aside these funds using a portion of the solar settlement funds from the last fiscal year. The assessment is expected to take 4 months. IACP will perform the assessment and report to the Board and the public when it has completed its tasks. People interested in the process are invited to contact the Town through selectboard@benningtonvt.org or by contacting me directly at the Town Offices. Names and contact information will be provided to the consultants.

At the Select Board meeting when this was discussed, a resident mentioned that when the Town conducted a neighborhood picnic event on Pleasant Street, police officers showed up in uniform. Most likely they were on duty and dropped by the event to participate for a time. Many officers and Town employees volunteered to host this event.

The Town is scheduled to close on the Main Street property which will be used to relocate the Morgan Spring delivery system. We are working with MSK Engineering and Premium Waters to design the new system to minimize impacts on our neighbors. The design provides for drive through service eliminating backing movements. A resident has complained of 12,000 gallon tankers using the current location on Bradford Street. I’ve been told there are no tanker trucks this large in use here. And remember, we sell the water to commercial bottlers for approximately twice the cost per gallon that we charge our ratepayers. The revenue generated from these sales lowers the rate we must charge to ratepayers.

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.