Putney tries once again to secure state sidewalk grant

Project, in second phase, would link village to Landmark College campus

PUTNEY — Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard met with Selectboard members on May 22 to discuss preparations in applying for a grant from the Vermont Agency of Transportation's Bicycle and Pedestrian Program to continue the three-phase sidewalk and bike lane project extending from the center of town to Landmark College.

The program has approximately $4 million in available funds, of which the town would be applying for between $250,000 and $300,000 and matching it with around $60,000 from the municipal coffers. The grant application is due July 26.

Stoddard said she was unaware that the AOT program had continued into 2013 until very recently, adding pressure to write the grant more quickly than normal due to deadline constraints.

The town had unsuccessfully applied for the same grant last year.

In early April, a similar $250,000 grant was awarded as a part of the same second phase of the project.

In 2012, the town worked with White River Junction–based transportation analysts Resource Systems Group (RSG) when the sidewalk project was in its first planning phase. Since that firm is already acquainted with the project, Stoddard said she planned to meet with representatives from RSG soon to discuss project costs and other logistics.

Although funding from the second grant won't be adequate to complete the project, Stoddard said that it would come close.

Residents at the meeting suggested that rather than simply plan additional bike paths or lockers, the town instead apply for a “complete project,” involving not only pathway installation but also details such as signage and streetlight installation.

This approach would provide a more compelling, unified effort, they suggested.

Residents and Selectboard members alike also expressed concern about using more of the town's budget than initially planned in a short period of time.

Selectman R. Scott Henry advocated a reasonable balance between project goals and what the town can feasibly do with what it is awarded.

“If we end up with a $900,000 project as opposed to $800,000 project, and we only get $600,000 including a [10-percent] match, then we wouldn't get too far,” Henry said.

Landmark College has been active with the project since the first phase, when it paid for much of the planning costs to advance the project to the point that it could qualify for grant funding.

Stoddard, who recently met with college administration again, said that the college would be more than happy to provide any administrative assistance that is needed, and noted that the school has recently hired a new grant writer.

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