Major grant secured for water, wastewater upgrades

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BRATTLEBORO — A big chunk of the cost for water and wastewater system upgrades that will benefit key manufacturing properties will be covered by the federal government.

"We've been advised," Town Manager Peter Elwell said last Tuesday during town manager's comments at the Select Board meeting, "that we have been awarded the $440,000 grant for the utility system that we sought last year."

Details about what will be needed are anticipated to come up at a future board meeting. The town is expected to contribute about $320,000 from its utilities budget to the project.

The grant will be used "to make critical water infrastructure improvements needed to support commercial development," according to a U.S. Economic Development Administration press release issued July 30. "Project elements include improvements to the existing water pump station, wastewater pump station and wastewater force main to accommodate increased water demand and wastewater flows for the Exit One Industrial Park and the emergent Delta Business Campus."

The Delta campus is home to Commonwealth Dairy and Omega Optical.

The grant had been applied for when a project pitched by Commonwealth Dairy co-founder Tom Moffitt called Culture Made Vermont was being proposed for a vacant building in the Exit One Industrial Park on John Seitz Drive, which is owned by the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. The BDCC announced in May that plans for the dairy and nondairy beverage manufacturing facility were put on "indefinite hold."

Town and BDCC officials previously told the Reformer the utilities project would still be moving forward. BDCC Executive Director Adam Grinold called the upgrades "critical to servicing existing and future park occupants."

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"The benefits to current and future businesses in the Exit One Industrial Park and to businesses and residences in the south end of Brattleboro include improved fire protection and water capacity," Elwell previously said.

Improvements needed for the water and sewer utilities at Exit One were anticipated to cost nearly $900,000. In return for making the improvements, the town would have received $190,000 in connection fees and $47,000 in quarterly fees from Culture Made.

Culture Made was requesting a total allocation of 44,789 gallons per day of water and 41,989 gallons per day of wastewater. The request, if fulfilled, would have required upgrades to the Industrial Park's pipes and pumping station.

'OPPORTUNITY ZONE'

The EDA said the grant will be going to "a designated Opportunity Zone, created by President Donald J. Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically-distressed communities nationwide."

"Congratulations to the town of Brattleboro on its recent award from the EDA to make infrastructure improvements at the Exit One Industrial Park and Delta Business Campus," Gov. Phil Scott said in a statement. "I'm pleased to see the town and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. working together to make economic expansion a reality in southern Vermont. These partners have set the table for economic growth by positioning prime developable land to anchor industrial sites that host more jobs in both traditional and new or expanding industries. I also want to thank our federal partners and Vermont's congressional delegation for supporting funding for the EDA. I hope this region's Opportunity Zone designation continues to drive interest in public and private investment in the coming years."

In June, the EDA added the zones as a way to promote more public investment in the designated areas. The administration said it invested more than $13 million in 22 projects in the zones within the last approximately two years.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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