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Town offers land to ease purchase of Grange

Creation of community center was ‘top priority’ in community visioning process

GUILFORD—Members of the nonprofit Broad Brook Community Center recently got one step closer to possibly purchasing the Broad Brook Grange and turning it into a more viable public space.

Community Center members Don McLean and Rick Zamore appeared at the Jan. 9 regular Selectboard meeting to provide an update on their progress. They also asked if the town would help by granting an easement allowing the Center to install a septic system on the town-owned Anthony lot, which sits just to the south of the Grange.

Instead, at the Jan. 23 regular Selectboard meeting, the Board unanimously voted to donate the adjoining Anthony lot to the Community Center should they decide to purchase the Grange property. This will allow the Center to install a much-needed improved water and wastewater system.

The Anthony family donated the land to the town to prevent development on the parcel, as it is one of the last open spaces in the village.

McLean and Zamore assured Board members the Anthony family supports the Community Center’s plans for the lot and for the Grange.

The Broad Brook Community Center was formed from the Vermont Council for Rural Development’s visit to Guilford a few years ago.

“[The] Grange was immediately identified as the facility which folks participating in the VCRD process wanted to see developed as a community center,” McLean told The Commons.

During the Council’s visits to towns across the state, locals work to identify three priorities for their town, and Guilford’s “top priority,” according to McLean, was “redevelop the Grange building.” From there, participants form a task force for each of the three items.

The Grange project task force, chaired by Sara Coffey and made up of Grange members and non-Grange community members, was formed at the final Vermont Council for Rural Development meeting.

“This group, which condensed into just a handful of us, met from January 2014 into 2015, and from [that group] was formed the Broad Brook Community Center, Inc.,” McLean said.

The Community Center is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a board of directors, and they are working toward the purchase of the Grange building, McLean said.

One of the challenges the Center faces is the water and septic systems.

“Water supply for the Grange is currently from a spring way up on the hill across Guilford Center Road. It has been variable, but, yes, the drought this past summer reduced the supply of water substantially,” McLean said.

“Wastewater hasn’t been a problem, with the historically modest use of the building. But with the plan ultimately to renovate the building so that it may be used year-round, be fully ADA-compliant, etc., there will be increased demand on both incoming and outgoing. So [the Community Center] has to plan for both a drilled well and a modern septic system, which is what brought us to the Selectboard,” McLean said.

The Center recently conducted a series of site tests on the Grange parcel and the Anthony lot to determine the best spots for water and wastewater systems.

Three things point to likely placing a leach field on the Anthony lot and a well on the other side of the building: the test results, the state statutes requiring placement of septic systems no closer than 200 feet to a drinking well, and the small size of the Grange property.

Right now, the Community Center is “trying to ascertain whether the town would do this” to help the nonprofit ensure “the purchase of the building is viable,” McLean said.

“The transfer of ownership is not imminent, although we hope maybe within a year or so,” McLean added.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #394 (Wednesday, February 8, 2017). This story appeared on page C1.

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