Town Manager’s Column – October 2018

Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

The paving project along Routes 9 and 7 through the downtown is nearing completion. The rainy weather delayed the project somewhat. Work remaining includes striping, repair of some deficiencies in the paving, concrete and sign installations and general clean up. Thank you all for your patience and understanding. It was a massive and complex undertaking. It will be nice to have the congestion over.

The Putnam Redevelopment Project has now entered the demolition phase. It is expected that construction in Phase 1, the historic buildings including the Pennysaver building, the Putnam building and the Winslow building, will begin soon. This activity is a welcome change to the intense effort that it took to pull the necessary funding together. Congratulations to all the partners. Thank you for your perseverance and commitment to our community.

The State DEC was in Town October 17th at the Middle School to update the community on the PFOA projects and planning. While the water line extensions in the westerly portion of the community, Phase 1, are nearing completion, negotiations for water line extensions in the easterly portion of the community continue. We heard last night that Saint-Gobain has agreed to fund the final design for this area known as Phase 2. That is great news and indicates that negotiations are moving in a positive direction. The PFOA crisis rocked this community. Thankfully, the State of Vermont, through the Department of Environmental Conservation, reacted quickly and effectively to help us find a solution.

Three park projects are underway. The pump track at Stark Street playground, sponsored by the Bennington Area Trail System (BATS), is now in the construction phase. I understand they are looking for material to get underway. The splash pad, a water feature, is soon to be constructed at Merchants Park. Initial site work is nearing completion. The splash pad contractors should begin work soon. Additional funding is still being sought to complete the park’s amenities, including a stage, a public restroom, landscaping, benches, and walkways. And at long last, the Park at 336 Main Street is underway. We look forward to the completion of these projects most likely in the Spring.

At its October 22nd meeting, the Select Board will review the revised citizen survey scheduled for release this Fall. The Board is committed to surveying the community every other year to gain an understanding of the community’s concerns and desires. The results will help us define goals moving forward and provide a measure of how we’re doing.

The Select Board has invited the Bennington Opiate Group to its November 12th meeting. This group, made up of a number of partners, is working together to identify possible solutions to the opioid crisis. We’ve long known we can’t arrest our way out of this terrible problem. Addiction is a disease. We need to treat the disease, not condemn those who suffer from it.

Out at the Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF), work has now begun on the upgrade to the remainder of the Plant. Town staff completed the RBC portion of the work in a timely and professional manner. Many, at the State, thought it was too complex an undertaking for a municipal employee team. Our team proved them wrong.

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.