All About Town – Town Manager Stuart Hurd

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

The Safety and Equity Task force has now met three times. Its work to date has focused on the purpose and scope of a community oversight committee. At its next meeting scheduled for November 18th at 4:30 pm at the Bennington Fire Facility, it will try to finalize these two items and perhaps look at composition and number of individuals on the committee. To aid in this effort, taskforce members are planning some outreach work including interviews with individuals and agencies to gain an understanding of how the community interacts with the Police Department; what is good and working well and what is not working well and how it may be improved. I commend those who volunteered for this effort. It is a complex question and a difficult undertaking in the four months allotted for the work and report.

At its most recent meeting, the Select Board paused any action on the discussion on how the community funds its downtown advocacy efforts. Currently contracting with the BBC (Better Bennington Corporation), the efforts are funded through the Downtown Improvement District, a taxing district established by Charter some years ago. The tax is levied only on properties and portions of properties within the District that are used commercially. The idea generated a lot of reaction in the community and among Board members. The Board feels that more time is needed to fully vet the idea and understand its impacts on those taxpayers in the District and those taxpayers outside the District.

The Board read and adopted a Proclamation naming Bennington a Purple Heart Community and designating August 7th of any given year as Purple Heart Day in Bennington. This is a way to honor those who served and sacrificed in wartime. Members of the local VFW and American Legion were on hand to receive the Proclamation once it was approved.

At this meeting, the Board, having viewed both Brookside Drive and Town Highway 29, the Foothills so called, voted to discontinue both roads. These roads were accepted by former Select Boards, the Foothills in 1967, Brookside Drive in 1975, but neither were used as Town highways per se and they serve private developments/homes.

The Citizen Survey has concluded. We’re waiting for late mail ins before tabulating. We had 640 participants. Another 235 did not complete the survey. Unfortunately, the responses from the incomplete surveys can not be counted. We hope to report the results by the next Select Board meeting, November 22.

VOSHA (Vermont Occupational Health and Safety Administration) has now adopted the mandatory vaccination program for employers with 100 or more full, part time, and seasonal employees. The Town adopted its mandatory vaccination or testing policy for all its employees effective November 1, 2021. Having this in place for just one week, we have learned that our workforce is 90% vaccinated. It is our hope that encouraging vaccinations for our entire workforce will keep our employees and their families safe and healthy and keep our interactions with our fellow citizens safe as well. It is my hope that everyone who is eligible and able will get vaccinated. It is the only way to end the pandemic and return to normal.

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.