PUTNEY -- The Vermont Agency of Transportation has awarded a $300,000 grant to Putney that will allow the town to extend a proposed sidewalk extension all the way to Landmark College.
In 2013 Putney was given a $250,000 grant that was going to pay for engineering and construction on a sidewalk extension going from the Putney General Store to Basketville.
The town wanted to extend the sidewalk all the way to Landmark College, but Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard said the $250,000 would only pay for the sidewalk part of the way to the college.
With the announcement Thursday that Putney was going to get another $300,000, Stoddard said there will now be enough money to build a new sidewalk all the way up Route 5 to the entrance of Landmark College.
The $300,000 was the maximum amount Putney could have been awarded during this round of grant applications with VTrans.
"It's very exciting. It's big news," Stoddard said. "There is no way we would have been able to go beyond Basketville without this $300,000. That is the piece that is going to allow us to go to Landmark."
Prior to receiving the $300,000 grant Stoddard was working on beginning the project this summer and building the new sidewalk to Basketville.
With the new money in hand she is beginning to see if the full project can be done at the same time, or if grant requirements will force the town to do the project in two pieces.
She said at this point she does not know if the work will start during the 2014 construction season or if it will have to wait until 2015.
"We are still trying to figure out how the two projects will go together," Stoddard said. "At this point the start date is huge unknown."
The conceptual plans have been completed and the town is currently working on securing the rights-of way, according to Stoddard.
The money Putney is receiving for the sidewalk requires a match from the town and voters at Town Meeting will be asked to authorize spending up to $137,500 for the work.
Town Meeting will be asked to approve a five-year bond for funding the sidewalk project.
Landmark College has also agreed to provide $180,000 for the sidewalk extension.
Landmark College President Peter Eden said the school was excited about contributing the money to ensure the safety of students and staff who walk in to the village, but in a symbolic sense Eden hopes the sidewalk will encourage more walking to and from the campus.
"Putney is lucky to have a college campus right downtown. We want the citizens of Putney to come up and do whatever they need to do," Eden said. "This is tremendous news. We are working hard to de-mystify the campus and become a part of the community. We think this sidewalk will be a way to remind people that we have opened our doors, and that we are here for the community."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.