Hardwick, News

Grants, Demolition, Construction, Repairs, Free Concerts Fill Agenda

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HARDWICK – Hardwick Rescue Squad learned at the April 4 select board meeting, that they will receive a letter of support from the town for their application requesting congressionally delegated spending (CDS) funds through Bernie Sanders’ office. Work is beginning to demolish three properties; on School Street in East Hardwick, at the former Inn by the River on Route 15 and at Ron Sanville’s property on Carey Road. Grant funds will pay for the demolition. The properties will then be turned into perpetual green spaces.

Work to replace Hardwick’s locally famous “swinging bridge,” the pedestrian bridge, is almost ready to go out to bid. Changes to the plans have been made because of flood damage to a retaining wall on the Main Street side that will be funded by FEMA. The $790,000 in additional funds will likely be needed to complete the bridge, but exact figures and what costs the town may have to cover while waiting for FEMA funding won’t be known until bids come in.

Preliminary plans for a 32-bed hostel on the lot next to the Clip Joint were presented by R.J. Thompson with Vt. Huts Association. They have CDS funds for a project and think Hardwick would be a good place for it.

VT Huts is a nonprofit organization with huts and hostels throughout the state, linked by trails.

The proposal has a ground level with a common space, and possibly public bathroom access. There would be room for the Downtown Partnership to have office space. The second floor could have two long term studio units.

While not finalized, Thompson anticipates that a bunk room with one twin bed would be around $50-$60 per night and a private room that sleeps four would be in the $120-$140 range.

The select board asked about the limited parking and the property’s contribution to the town’s tax rolls. Thompson’s request for a letter of support from the town went unanswered.

Town Manager David Upson said an Environmental Watershed Protection (EWP) program grant will cover repairing and securing eroding river banks at three properties damaged during the flood. The town will now handle the search for an engineer and contractor for the work that will be 100% funded by the grant.

He also reported that the East Main Street bridge, near the Greensboro town line, closer to Greensboro Bend than East Hardwick has been removed.   

photo by Vanessa Fournier The front of the East Main Street bridge in Hardwick is located by the Greensboro, Stannard and Walden town lines. The old bridge was removed March 29 by J.P. Sicard Inc. of Barton. The next steps are to select an engineer and to design a new structure.

Police Chief Mike Henry said the town has received a grant for new body cameras. They are also looking into updating their in-car camera systems. ​

Several options for replacement of the Hardwick Farms Road bridge were discussed, but no decision was made. The most cost-effective option may be installing two eight-foot culverts side-by-side and covering them with gravel. That work could be done by the town road crew, but requires approval from the state Agency of Natural Resources.

The Civic Standard’s Tara Reese and Rose Friedman joined the meeting via Zoom to explain their ideas for organizing a free concert series in downtown Hardwick that would be funding through a grant from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s Better Places program. They will raise $5,000 to be matched with an additional $10,000, allowing them to offer three free concerts at different locations downtown from May to September. They will receive a letter of support from the town for their grant application to support the concert series.

Board member, Shari Cornish raised the topic of letters of support and suggested developing a policy or checklist for evaluating requests. Upson said that private for-profit entities should not seek letters of support from towns.

There were two executive sessions to end the meeting, The first involved a personnel matter to which both the town manager and police chief were invited. The second was to discuss a real estate contract to which only the town manager was invited.

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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