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Town of Shaftsbury, VT
PO Box 409
61 Buck Hill Road
Shaftsbury, Vermont 05262

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Shaftsbury Board Decides Residents Should Petition to Get Grandview Sidewalk Bond Vote on the Ballot

Posted: June 12, 2024

SHAFTSBURY - The Select Board has decided to defer to residents to petition for a bond vote to acquire matching funds for a grant to install a sidewalk along Grandview Street.

Residents of the street, currently with no sidewalks have complained of many near misses between pedestrians and cars. They have also expressed dissatisfaction with how long it has taken to get the project moving.

A scoping study that the board accepted at its April 29 meeting indicated that the total project cost, taking into account inflation and adding a 25-percent contingency, would be $805,000 by 2027. State grant funding possibilities for the project through the VTrans Municipal Assistance Bureau include Transportation Alternatives Grants, available up to $600,000 with a 20-percent match required. Applications are due in the fall.

VTrans Bicycle and Pedestrian grants have no limit, and also require a 20 percent match and applications are due in June. Without a bond vote, the town does not have the funds to match a state grant.

The Dufresne Group presented the scoping study for the project based on the Select Board's preferred design.

The plan envisions approximately 1,400 feet of ADA-complaint, five-foot-wide concrete sidewalk along the west side of Grandview Street, with granite curbing connecting all the way down to the sidewalk on Main Street in North Bennington.

The road will retain its current width and travel lanes. Though it will impact some trees and shrubs and necessitate the movement of a few telephone poles, the project will not require any permanent easements on private property, Christina Haskins of the Dufresne Group said at the time.

A speed table on Grandview Street and one on Hawks Avenue were also recommended in the scoping study. Build momentum

The Select Board discussed the bond vote at its June 3 meeting. "There's two ways that we can move forward to the next step of this as a town," said Board Chair Naomi Miller. "I think that we are all in agreement that we want that to move forward in some way."

One way is that the interested citizens who want a bond floated to pay for the project is to get 10 percent of eligible voters to sign a petition for a town-wide vote on whether to approve it.

"The other way would be for the Select Board to use its authority to just step in and say that we would like this to be on the ballot," Miller said. "And that's a decision the Select Board has to make about which way we're going to go with this."

"It seems to me that it would really be a very good thing to let such a large expenditure of money on a big project have as much democratic input as possible and not have the Selectboard kind of step in and enforce the vote but rather to let people build momentum for it by going through the process of getting signatures on the petition," Miller said.

The other four board members agreed.

"I totally agree. Because the town line expenditure is so expensive, I think that the people who are sponosring this sidewalk proposal should be the ones going out to get a petition going," said Tony Kurlikowski.

"I think historically that has been how some bond votes have gone through the town is with citizen petitions that then built the momentum that then leads up to the vote that eventually gets passed in some cases, and in other cases, it does not," said Martha Cornwell. "And so I think you're right in the democratic process being allowed to happen. This is part of it."

Having a unamious consensus, Miller said a formal vote was not needed. She will notify those residents concerned, and the town will provide whatever assistance they need in drafting the petition language and, if the vote passes, in applying for the necessary grants, she said.

Construction could take place in 2026 as the earliest, Cornwell said.

Compliments of: The Bennington Banner
Posted/Author: Mark Rondeau

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