GUILFORD -- A fund-raising effort is officially under way as residents try to do their part to revive the drained Sweet Pond recreation area.
A volunteer steering committee met for the first time this week. In addition to soliciting donations and organizing events, Sweet Pond backers also are looking for input.
"If they have ideas for fund-raising events and other ways to support the effort, they should contact us," said Linda Hecker, the committee’s co-chairwoman.
Vermont officials are supporting rehabilitation of the 84-year-old, state-owned Sweet Pond Dam. The 18-acre pond was drained last year when the dam was declared unsafe.
Michael Snyder, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, has said he will ask the state Legislature to fund an estimated $330,000 project to restore the dam and pond.
But officials also have pushed for a contribution from the Guilford area, saying it could help leverage state funding.
"Certainly, it shows the sincerity and the value of it to the townspeople," said state Rep. Mike Hebert, a Vernon-based Republican who also represents Guilford.
Hebert is involved with the steering committee, which also is co-chaired by Richard Wizansky. The group has a Facebook page titled "Save Sweet Pond," and Hecker can be reached at email@example.com.
The project has received support from the Guilford Selectboard,
The steering committee formed last year. But Hecker said members were waiting for the results of an engineering report -- which arrived in January -- and for state officials to decide on a course of action.
"The main thing we want to convey is, we’re now open for business," she said.
Initial fundraising ideas include a classical-music concert in September and a booth at the Guilford Fair. Committee members also are planning to circulate petitions -- both on paper and online -- and they’re looking to communicate directly with townspeople.
"We’ll be sending out a letter to all Guilford residents sometime in the next few weeks," Hecker said. "Right now, we’re designing a logo so we can have letterhead."
Hecker said the committee will take its message to Montpelier by sponsoring a "Sweet Pond Day" there when the Legislature reconvenes in the winter.
Hebert said he has lain groundwork for the Sweet Pond effort, noting widespread support for the project among state officials.
"I’m fairly sure that this is going to move forward," Hebert said.
He added that "The dam cannot stay the way it is," meaning the structure either must be fixed or removed. The January engineering report estimated that removing the dam would cost $204,000.
The difference between that and the restoration price tag "is not a significant amount of money," Hebert said.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.