From the Director, March 2015 - It's Spring! Are you Ready?
Spring will be most welcome after a particularly cold winter. But as we all know, the spring thaw and rains can present towns, businesses and households with water issues. Some of these are relatively benign, like the annual appearance of groundwater in a basement. Others, such as ice flows and ice jams on streams and rivers, can cause catastrophic damage. Still others, such as muddy, rutted town roads can isolate individual homes and neighborhoods.
Public Transit on Rte. 30? We'd like to know your thoughts!
WRC staff has collaborated with VTrans, Connecticut River Transit and Deerfield Valley Transit Association on a study that examines the feasibility of establishing public transit to serve the West River Valley/Route 30 corridor. We need to know who the potential users might be, where they might travel from and to and for what purpose (i.e., medical needs, work, pleasure, shopping, etc.), what time of day they would want to travel, and whether there might be seasonal differences.
Windham Region hosts “A Roadmap to Energy Efficiency” Roundtable
Energy efficiency: less risk than the stock market, often better returns. The economic and environmental merits of energy conservation and efficiency have long been touted, but navigating the process of weatherizing homes and upgrading heating systems can be a difficult and confusing one. On January 20, 2015, citizens from throughout the Windham Region packed the conference room at the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust building in Brattleboro, VT. The event was co-sponsored by the NeighborWorks Heat Squad, Brattleboro Climate Protection, Sustainable Energy Outreach Network, and the Windham Regional Commission.
Upcoming Grant Opportunities
Study of Economic Impacts to Tri-County Area Due to Vermont Yankee Closure is Released
On December 29, 2014, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (VY) will no longer operate as an energy production facility. When fully operational, the facility had over 600 workers, most living in Windham County, VT; Cheshire County, NH; and Franklin County, MA. For over 40 years, VY has been an important component of this region’s economy. So what is the magnitude of economic impact to our tri-state region due to the discontinuing of operations and decommissioning of VY, especially the loss of local income? This is a question that four regional economic development planning organizations are seeking to answer. These organizations are: the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, the Southwest Regional Planning Commission, and the Windham Regional Commission. A study completed by the University of Massachusetts’ Donahue Institute that begins to provide some insight can be found here: UMDI Study of Economic Impacts of VY Closure.
WRC Engages with the Clean Energy Development Fund
The Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) will distribute half of the funds in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Program Plan in or for the benefit of Windham County (equal to roughly $2.6 million of the $5.3 million available statewide). The Windham Regional Commission has been actively engaging with the CEDF Board to support a program plan for Windham County that will provide the greatest benefit to the region.
Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative Brattleboro Community: Building Flood Resiliency
By some estimates, at least a quarter of businesses never reopen after a disaster. The Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative, or VERI, is hoping to lower that number, by working with five towns in Vermont, including Brattleboro. The goal is to help businesses affected by a future disaster to “bounce back, not break.” The first public forum for Brattleboro was held October 15, 2014. We'll be posting a summary of that forum soon.
The Windham Regional Plan is Approved!
We are pleased to announce that the Windham Regional Plan was approved by a unanimous vote on September 30, 2014 during the meeting of the Windham Regional Commission. This concludes our regional plan update process that began in October 2012. We wish to extend our gratitude to everyone who participated in this effort.
Downtown and Village Revitalization Website is Launched!
A new website has been launched to assist southern Vermont communities with downtown and village center revitalization. This website provides a toolkit of information and resources to help communities build vibrancy and economic resiliency. Among the resources are links to useful guides and information, implementation strategies, funding sources, case studies, and government and non-profit entities that offer additional information
WRC Awards Brownfields Funding to Deerfield Valley Transit Association
In June, Windham Regional Commission signed an agreement with Deerfield Valley Transit Association (DVTA) for a loan/grant combination for $171,500 for brownfields clean up at the former Barnboard site in Wilmington. DVTA is the operator of a community transit system for the area around the Deerfield Valley and is known for their trademark buses with a Holstein motif. The grant is being used for the remediation of the Barnboard site as part of the construction of their new facility.
Recent Regional Highway Safety Forum a Success
On May 12, 2014, Chip Sterns, Town Manager, Rockingham, welcomed 50 attendees to the Rockingham Town Hall and the first Regional Highway Safety Forum in the Windham region. The all day event was presented by the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance (http://highwaysafety.vermont.gov/ ) and hosted by WRC and Southern Windsor County RPC. It provided an opportunity to learn about the resources and partners available to individuals and communities as they strive towards safety for all highway users.
EPA Awards Brownfields Funds for Two Windham Region Projects
EPA recently announced the award of more than $17.48 million in Brownfield grants to municipalities and organizations working to protect people’s health by assessing and cleaning up contaminated parcels in New England communities. In the Windham Region, EPA is awarding $475,000 clean up grants were awarded for two projects in Rockingham.
Main Street Arts Receives Brownfields Clean Up Grant from WRC
In April 2014 Windham Regional Commission signed an agreement with Main Street Arts (MSA), a non-profit community arts center located in Saxtons River, to grant the organization $133,658 for Brownfields clean up. The grant is being used for the remediation of their adjoining site (33 Main Street) to allow them to make their existing building handicapped accessible.
Energy Code Requirements: What Towns Need to Know
On March 20, 2014, town representatives from throughout the Windham Region met in the Townshend Town Hall to receive information on recent legislative changes related to the Vermont Energy Code (Act 89) and municipal requirements and opportunities to promote energy efficient construction in their communities. The event was sponsored by Efficiency Vermont in collaboration with the Windham Regional Commission.