Downtown Wilmington. (Chris Mays/Reformer file photo)
Downtown Wilmington. (Chris Mays/Reformer file photo)

WILMINGTON - A grant from the town that will increase by $22,000 in a single year was approved. Last year, Wilmington Works had begun its operations on a $8,000 grant from the town and $3,000 from the non-profit Wilmington Fund Vermont.

"This past year has been a lot of work as far as organization and organizational structure goes. They've been setting up various committees and subcommittees," said Town Manager Scott Murphy. "They've been successful and have really laid groundwork for future growth."

Last month, the Selectboard approved the downtown group's budget for a total of $25,000, which will be funded by the 1 percent local option tax reserve fund. Since it was under $50,000, the request did not have to go to voters.

The increase is largely based on the hiring of a project coordinator consultant to be the group's executive director. On the budget, the salary for that position is $45,000 for the next fiscal year.

For the future, Wilmington Works will be setting up more events and fundraisers. According to projections for the next fiscal year, the group expects to raise an additional $12,000 through donations.

One of the group's biggest accomplishments, Murphy said, has been the completion of a downtown walking tour map now available at the Town Offices. Wilmington Works board member Alice Richter had been instrumental in its publication.

"It's a tremendous amount of research done in producing that. The finished product is very good," Murphy added.

Members of the downtown group had also assisted in lighting various bridges for the holidays in coordination with the Bright Lights program, which the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce helped organize this year.

During a Selectboard meeting on Dec. 18, the topic of funding the downtown group was addressed. Cliff Duncan, a member of the citizen review group that attended budget sessions, questioned the philosophy of the funding.

"I'm not discrediting what Wilmington Works can do," he said. "We don't know much or what it costs them to operate."

Murphy mentioned that it had only been a year since Wilmington was accepted into the statewide downtown designation program.

"I agree in let's not commit to beyond this year," he said.

Selectboard member Diane Chapman strongly advocated for approving the funding. She thought there already had been some really good results.

"I think we need this shot in the arm to get the ball rolling," Chapman concluded.

Selectboard Vice Chairman Jim Burke wanted to be clear that Wilmington Works and Wilmington Fund Vermont are two different things and the town would be providing a 50 percent match along with the Wilmington Vermont Fund for a combined total of $50,000.

"They've done a lot of preparing for this and we're looking for bigger things coming up this year," said Murphy.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.