BRATTLEBORO -- The Selectboard has thrown its weight behind a plan by local developers to rebuild the fire ravaged Brooks House.
At the regular Selectboard meeting Tuesday, the board unanimously agreed to loan $100,000 to Mesabi LLC, the group that is redeveloping the property.
The loan would come out of the town's Vermont Community Development Program fund.
The board also supported an application from Mesabi LLC for a $750,000 Slum and Blight Grant, which developer Bob Stevens would allow the group to move ahead with its plan to rehabilitate the shuttered Main Street building.
The entire project to renovate the approximately 80,000 square foot building is expected to cost $18 million.
Stevens said the group ca me together to "do the right thing for the town," and to improve the environmental footprint of the building.
About 160 direct and indirect jobs will be created when the building is completely rehabilitated and the stores and offices are filled, Stevens said.
In other development news, the Selectboard formally accepted a $325,000 Vermont Community Development Program grant for Carbon Harvest, and agreed to loan the company $42,500.
The board dealt with a number of weighty, and controversial issues, at the more than three hour meeting.
The design firm was chosen for the proposed skatepark at Crowell Lot.
The board also got an update from officials on the town's response
Town Manager Barbara Sondag said that while there were lessons learned on every level, the fire, police and public works departments did a good job of protecting the public, and limiting the loss of property.
Sondag said the town benefited from its pre-planning, and when the storm hit staff members were ready and not caught off guard.
Sondag said no one expected the storm to unleash the devastation that it did, and one of the most challenging parts of the disaster was making the transition from emergency to recovery.
Town officials were forced to make decision on the fly, Sondag said, and if the town ever sees something like Tropical Storm Irene again, she expects there to be more coordination and planning going into the post-disaster period.
The board also agreed to give Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing another $27,000 to support the group's Apartments in Homes program which encourages property owners to build low income rental apartments in their homes.
In 2010 the Selectboard gave Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing $32,600 to help pay for nine apartments, as well as administration costs.
That money was supposed to last until June 2013 but the program has been so successful that the money has already been spent on creating new rental units.
The group said it did not need the additional administration funding, but was looking for $3,000 for more nine apartments.
The board unanimously agreed to support the program with money from the town's Community Development Block Grant program income.
In an effort to encourage the development of small scale solar energy projects the Public Service Board has tried to simplify the permit process for systems between five and 150 kilowatts.
Under the PSB rule, Development Review Boards have no standing and only Selectboards and Planning Commissions can weigh in on the application review process, and even then, on a very limited basis.
Planning Director Rod Francis asked the board to approve a change that would put all of the limited input into the hands of the Planning Commission.
The board also agreed to Francis' request.
The board once again put off its decision to place new stop signs in the vicinity of Living Memorial Park as the Traffic Safety Committee continues collecting data on the proposal.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 279. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.