Wilmington OKs plans for sidewalk grant


WILMINGTON -- The Selectboard supported applying for a grant that, if approved, would enable the town to improve and redevelop sidewalks in the downtown area.

"This is a good grant," said Wilmington Economic Development Specialist Gretchen Havreluk. "It's a long-term kind of grant."

On Oct. 2, Havreluk told the Wilmington Selectboard that the grants offered through the Agency of Transportation's Transportation Alternatives Program would be a good fit for the town as the downtown designation group Wilmington Works' Design Committee has been looking at ways to fund a project for improving the sidewalks in the downtown village.

Together with Matt Mann, of the Windham Regional Commission, the committee's goal is to ultimately save the town money by pursuing different avenues of financial support, Havreluk said.

"I recommend we go for the planning grant for all the sidewalks in town," she said. "We'd hire an engineer and redo and redevelop new sidewalks from North and South Main Street as well as east and west."

Havreluk also mentioned sidewalks that would be redeveloped past the Old Red Mill Inn along Route 100.

"In the east, it would extend past the walking bridge and the other side would be developed all the way to the Wilmington Inn and Tavern. That is out of the downtown designation area, but that's not an issue really," she said.

Havreluk told the Selectboard that she thought it was very likely that the town would get the grant because of her recent experience receiving with the state's Community Development Grant Program.

"They know we have some really deep needs here," she said. "I feel confident we'll be getting these grants."

The deadline for the grant is Oct. 16. It contains two parts -- planning and implementation.

Planning requires a 50 percent match from the town. Implementation requires a 20 percent match. The state will pay 50 percent of the planning and 80 percent of the implementation.

"This particular grant is really looking for the Selectboard to be committed," said Havreluk. "So, as we get this grant and we have an engineer come out, do all this work and come up with a nice plan, they don't want to see it put on a shelf. They want to see it implemented in the next two to five years."

Concerns voiced by board members included how the progress of such a project would be monitored by the state and the cost for the initial planning process.

Havreluk and Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy said there would not be strict timelines for completion of tasks.

"It's not all going to happen at one time," said Havreluk. "If we say, ‘Let's do phasing, What's our priorities?' As long as your working on it, the state would be fine with it."

Murphy brought up a project in Shrewsbury that took a much longer time to complete than expected but the town still kept its financial support from the state.

The cost for the planning portion, which would be to pay for an engineer to come up with a design plan for the sidewalks, is estimated to cost $50,000. For the town, it would be approximately $25,000 if the town receives the grant.

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


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