Town Manager’s Column – September 2019


Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

Work continues at the Stark Street playground. Employees from Home Depot are providing volunteer hours over two days to help construct the natural playground equipment. Materials are being donated as well. The walking pathway is finished leaving only the bathrooms as the last major improvement to be undertaken. Visit the Park. It’s a great little neighborhood park. Relax, play, and get some exercise.

The Town of Bennington’s new Vermont Begins Here website has launched.  Vermont Begins Here is the town sponsored marketing campaign for Bennington with a focus on tourist attractions and events.  Eight Oh Two Marketing, a Bennington-based digital marketing firm, built the website, with creative support from local business leaders.  The new website is a comprehensive listing of cultural activities, outdoor recreation, and downtown attractions.  Additional sections highlight upcoming events, dining, lodging, shopping, weddings, local necessities, and themed blog posts, as well as links to the Vermont Begins Here Facebook and Instagram posts.

At the Wastewater Treatment facility, I am pleased to announce that the first primary digester cover is now in place. There are a few punch list items to complete before it can be put on line. It does provide more storage capacity. The compost facility is fully operational. Overall, the odor problems should begin to deescalate. The second primary digester cover is now being worked on and hopefully this will be on line by month’s end. Our neighbors have had a difficult few months. We do appreciate your patience and understanding.

The Police Department Assessment consultant, IACP (the International Association of Chiefs of Police), visited the Select Board to provide the kick off meeting for the Police Department assessment. The cost for this assessment is $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 be in town for an extended period twice in the coming weeks. People interested in participating, being interviewed, or submitting information should contact IACP through this email address, I have passed on the names submitted to me.

At the Select Board last Monday, Jess Rumlow presented her 8-month review of the current one-year transition management agreement. In conclusion, she is recommending a new three-year management agreement to continue this transition process. The Town will continue to own and maintain the building and set and collect all fees. The Berkshire Y will manage the facility and develop and operate all programs at the site. The parks, the pavilions and the Senior Center will remain in the control of the Town. The Y will continue to provide programming and assistance to the Senior Center. The Select Board must review and approve the new agreement, once developed, at a regular board meeting.

The Town now owns 747 Main Street, the site of the proposed Morgan Spring delivery system. Working with MSK Engineering, we designed the new system to minimize impacts on our neighbors. The design provides for drive through service eliminating backing movements. We continue discussions on how to fund the construction. 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, approximately $100,000 last year, lowers the rates we charge to our 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.