Saturday October 6, 2012

WILMINGTON -- The town will host a special public meeting next week to update residents on the progress of the Long Term Recovery Groups and their various projects in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene.

Town Manager Scott Murphy said all Project Champions, or group leaders, and committee members are expected to attend and describe their projects, explain their progress, identify the next steps to take, and offer a timeline for completion. The meeting is slated to be held at the Town Hall at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Selectboard Chairman Tom Consolino said there are about two dozen different projects under way, ranging from installing historic streetlights in the downtown village to extending hours at the Deerfield Valley Medical Center to figuring out how to use Twin Valley High School as a community center. Murphy said there are many success stories worth bragging about, including renovating the West Main Street Parking Lot, which is a public-private venture.

"Many projects are just now coming to fruition and others will take longer, but we want the public to be aware of them and learn about them and possibly offer to help as we go forward," Murphy said in an e-mail to the Reformer.

He said FEMA Community Recovery Planning Coordinator Corey Nygaard will also be in attendance. Nygaard said he will be there to observe and provide any technical expertise if it is needed.

Murphy and Consolino said in addition to educating the masses on the work being done, the goal of Tuesday’s meeting is to reinvigorate and revitalize the cause and gain new volunteers.

"We could always use more help," Consolino said.

Murphy, head of the town’s long-term steering committee, said there was a good turnout of Project Champions meeting last week.

There was also a meeting at Mount Snow’s Grand Summit Hotel in May as a way to give funding organizations a chance to see what sort of projects were going on and contribute money to them.

An estimated 150 people fit into the Deerfield Valley Elementary School’s gymnasium on Tuesday, Jan. 17, to offer their comments and input into a long-term recovery process for Wilmington.

As people arrived at the meeting, facilitated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s long-term task force, they were given Post-it Notes to place onto any of five different bulletin boards regarding their specific areas of concerns. The Deerfield Valley News reported that the other categories were natural resources and recreation; health, housing and human services; infrastructure; and community development and capacity building.

Audience members then broke into separate groups and reviewed all notes added to the boards to think of items that could be included in the final plans for the town.

Consolino said he learned on Thursday about progress being made in regards to Dot’s Restaurant. The restaurant, in an historic building, was ravaged by floods during Irene. In order to restore it, engineers had to split the building in half, lift one piece off its foundation, set it aside and restore the foundation. Consolino said the two halves have been reconnected.

Though it is still unsure when the business will reopen, the chairman said this is a big step in the right direction.