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BaBB receives three proposals for the River Garden

BRATTLEBORO—The Robert H. Gibson River Garden may house a new organization by June.

Three organizations submitted proposals to Building a Better Brattleboro (BaBB), the downtown organization which owns the building.

The deadline for submitting proposals was April 30.

According to Kate O’Connor, vice president of the BaBB board of directors, the three proposals represent a mix of uses and financing options for the building located at the intersection of Main and High streets.

O’Connor didn’t know how much of the information within the proposals will become public. In the request for proposals, BaBB stated it would keep information confidential. The organization wants to remain sensitive to any private information contained in the proposals, she said.

A committee of one BaBB member and four or five community members will evaluate the proposals, said O’Connor. The selection committee will submit its recommendation to the board.

“We want people to look at it [proposals] objectively outside of us,” O’Connor said.

She anticipates a decision will be made by the first week of June.

One of the three organizations, Strolling of the Heifers, announced in early April that it would submit a proposal for the River Garden.

Orly Munzing, Strolling founder and executive director, said she felt that moving to Main Street, and the River Garden specifically, matched her organization’s mission “to help support, sustain and celebrate family farmers by connecting people with healthy local food.”

BaBB announced late last year its plans to divest itself of the River Garden. According to Donna Simons, board president, and outgoing Executive Director Andrea Livermore, the building has operated at a deficit for the previous five years. Livermore said maintaining the River Garden has depleted BaBB’s own funds.

The announcement to sell the River Garden met with controversy from some community members who felt the building should remain a public space and not go to a private owner.

BaBB’s board is also reviewing its executive director position, which it cut from 32 to 18 hours a week for fiscal year 2014. O’Connor said the board is taking its time reviewing the organization’s work plan and deciding on what type of person and skills it wants to fill the position.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #202 (Wednesday, May 8, 2013).

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