Plans emerge for flood damaged properties in Wilmington


WILMINGTON -- Although nothing is set in stone just yet, ideas are floating around for two properties the town bought through FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

For the property located at 3 Shafter St., formerly owned by the Brissette family, a design was submitted by Windham Regional Commission Assistant Planner Kim Smith when she was still a student at Conway School of Landscape Design.

"We'd like to put a pavilion on the concrete that's still there. It was left after they demolished the barn," Town Manager Scott Murphy said.

While Smith was a student, she assisted with developing some plans for design improvements around Wilmington. Conway's report was completed in 2013. It was not associated with the WRC, where she was later hired.

Murphy shared the design with the Selectboard on Aug. 20, where board member Susie Haughwout mentioned only the Selectboard could designate a park for the town. Murphy told the Reformer the project is not at the point where a designation is being asked for yet. He said he had to do more research and would likely return to the board when the grant program's second round of application is announced. Those grants will be for construction or implementation projects.

"That's being offered only to communities that had to purchase properties and demolish them through the HMGP," said Murphy. "It's basically an effort by the state, who found money through the feds, to enable communities to do something with these properties. There's severe limitations on these properties."

The purpose of the program, he told the Reformer, was to take the properties out of harm's way in the event of a future flood. One of the restrictions says no new structure can be built, however, a gazebo would be allowed. Most properties purchased through the HMGP are turned into parks or greenspaces.

Smith said her design was a concept design and could be considered "very, very preliminary."

"They gave me very general ideas of what they wanted. They wanted it to be for fairly passive use. So they didn't want to have it be a space that was going to be high maintenance," she said. "They saw people using it for lunch or socializing."

Both FEMA and the state will need to sign off on the project if the Selectboard agrees to it.

As for the property previously owned by the Sprague family, Murphy said he has talked with the Beautification Committee and one of the ideas is to make it into a community garden, where people could grow vegetables.

"We have water access there and it's in the heart of the downtown," he added. "There was a garden at Buzzy Towne Park but it got flooded out. We'd be looking for local residents to take ownership of the project."

This idea was not yet presented to the Selectboard. Murphy said it was presented some members of the community.

"There was quite a bit of interest. We will probably have a grassroots effort come forth to see if people were willing to work on the project and see if the Selectboard would allow us to do that," he said. "It's not very large but it's right in the downtown area."

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


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