BRATTLEBORO -- At the Brattleboro Selectboard's regular meeting on July 15, Chairman David Gartenstein noted the town should do more to insure its interests are taken into account when it comes to the money made available through the Windham County Economic Development Fund and the Clean Energy Development Fund.
"We haven't done a good enough job at the town level to articulate and identify what are the town's interests in response to this money and try to advocated for and further our interests," he said.
The board approved the establishment of a five-person working group that will work towards identifying and advocating for projects that might qualify for funding
"I am hoping that this group will, in the short term, identify any input we can have in the process the state is developing," said Gartenstein, who nominated Selectboard Vice-Chairwoman Kate O'Connor, Planning Services Director Rod Francis, Grants and Loans Manager Kim Ellison, Town Lister Russell Rice and Planning Commission member Elizabeth McLoughlin to the group.
When Entergy announced it was closing its Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant at the end of 2014, it agreed to contribute $10 million over five years, creating the Windham County Economic Development Fund. The state has received the first $2 million installment and is in the process of developing application guidelines and standards for projects that could receive funding, either as loans or grants. In addition, Entergy supplied to the state more than $5 million for its Clean Energy Development Fund, half of which is targeted to Windham County.
"Brattleboro should have a seat at the table," said Gartenstein. "We haven't done a good enough job at the town level to articulate and identify what the town's interests are in respect to this money and trying to advocate for and further our interests."
O'Connor said it was also important for the town to know who might in Brattleboro might be thinking about applying for the money so that the town can stay on top of the process. The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and the Windham Regional Commission are going to be asked if what is proposed fits in with the Town Plan, she said.
"But who knows better than the town?"
Gartenstein also reminded the board that the town has its own funds -- its Small Business Assistance Program and Community Development Block Grants -- that could be used to leverage loans and grants from the WCEDF and CEDF.
"There may be special grant opportunities, projects for the town, grants we want to sponsor and grantees we want to work with," he said. "That could lead to economic development that could benefit the town, but we haven't engaged in an organized effort to identify those things broadly and move towards them."
In other business, the Selectboard approved the disbursement of $12,900 for a utility drum roller, $4,594 for a utility trailer and $21,150 for a back-up generator for the radio tower on Pleasant Valley Road. In addition, the board approved an expenditure of $28,734 for a replacement pick-up truck for the Recreation and Parks Department.
-- The board had a first reading that would restrict parking along the easterly side of Depot Street. The second reading and a public hearing of the amended ordinance will be held on Aug. 5.
Bob Audette can be reached at email@example.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.