Town Manager’s Column – October 2017

Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

I want to thank the voters who took the time from busy schedules to vote on the recent
waste water facility improvement bond. The turnout was light. We anticipated that because October 10th is not a normal voting day. As you all know, the bond passed by a two to one margin. We now begin the two year task of completing the planned upgrades and bringing the Facility into the 21st Century. Thank you all for your support.

On Wednesday, October 18, the Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC) will visit Bennington to hear from local officials and others about the Town’s now filed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) application. This very important application, if approved, will allow the Town to bond for necessary improvements in the identified district and allow those bonds to be paid back by the incremental increase in the Grand List using State Education Tax monies generated by the new developments. In this way, there is no impact on local taxpayers. It will aid in the development of the former Greenberg property and should spur development throughout the District.

Contractors are getting ready to start construction on the extension of the North Bennington and Bennington municipal water systems to provide uncontaminated water to hundreds of homes. This set of projects, known as Phase 1, will not reach every contaminated home. Testing continues in the area known as Phase 2 in an attempt to verify, to the extent possible, contamination sources other than Saint-Gobain. Of course, Saint-Gobain is funding this investigation as part of its agreement with the State. Identifying locations for soils spoil sites, excess soils from the various digs, continues to be difficult. The State, with some assistance from the Town, is working to identify additional sites that can be used to address the impact on surrounding properties. It is not an easy task.

Work continues on the new home for the Public Works Department. We continue to plan on a late Fall occupancy. Much work remains. Staff are focused on getting everything in place. The two old garages will then be available for reuse. You will recall that the Town plans to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) to gain an understanding of the interest in the buildings and what uses might be planned.

The Charter Review Committee continues its work. This Committee is giving the Charter a very thorough review. A three hour work session is scheduled for Tuesday October 17 from 4:30 pm until 7:30 pm at the Town Offices. The next public forum is scheduled for October 26 at the Bennington Fire Facility from 5:30 pm until 7:00 pm. Weekly noon work sessions will continue as well. The schedule and agenda are posted on the Town’s website and its Facebook page. Minutes are published on the website only.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC), formerly the Public Service Board (PSB), recently denied Allco Energy’s request to reconsider the Chelsea Solar project’s denial. The Town sought this denial for several reasons and was successful. The revised Apple Hill Solar project continues to be heard by the PUC. The Supreme Court appeal of the Chelsea Solar Project’s original denial continues.

Please don’t forget the upcoming November 7th vote on the Act 46 solution to school governance.

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.