Town manager Scott Murphy says the Long Term Recovery “champions” will give the public a briefing on their project, including the progress that has been made since the FEMA-led planning portion of the process ended, identifying the next steps, and offering a timeline for completion. Murphy says some of the projects are moving forward, some are awaiting further funding, and some are nearing completion. “We’ve had many success stories so far,” says Murphy, “including renovation of the West Main Street Parking lot, the feasibility grant application for use of the high school as a community center, and an EDA grant application for a recovery coordinator.”
Other projects that are moving forward include improvements to village pedestrian areas such as benches, signs, and sidewalks. Murphy notes that a simulated cobble sidewalk in front of the Maple Leaf restaurant is the prototype for new sidewalks in town. “Many projects are just now coming to fruition and others will take longer, but we want the public to be aware of them, and possibly offer help as we go forward.”
Other projects include a village walkway formerly known as the Riverwalk, as well as a pedestrian bridge over the Deerfield River that would link the walkway with the new Deerfield Valley Transit Association facility and the Hoot, Toot & Whistle trail, which is also nearing completion.
Last month, the town formed a Long Term Recovery Steering Committee to shepherd the process along. Steering committee member Tom Consolino says the committee’s looking for public input, as well as public involvement. “We’d love to have the public stand up and say “We’d like to join and help out,’” Consolino said. “We’re looking to get more of the public engaged.”
Consolino is the champion for a Long Term Community Recovery project to produce a successful application to the state’s Downtown Designation program. Consolino said he and Murphy have been working to put together the essential elements of the application, and have also enlisted the help of former Wilmington Economic Development Consultant Bill Colvin. “It’s not an overnight project,” Consolino said. “You have to put together an organization with a governing structure, work plan, and budget. It’s going to take another couple of months.”