On Tuesday, church members turned over a check for $5,000 to Mary Jane Finnegan and Chris Cady, owners of the two properties affected by the damaged wall.
Church member Liz Marshall said the grant, provided by the Episcopal Diocese, is just one initiative by St. Mary’s congregation in their drive to become more active in the community. “We knew about the compromised wall and the financial challenges that Mary Jane (Finnegan) and Chris (Cady) faced,” Marshall says. “Liz McEwen knew about the community grant program that was available through the diocese, so she wrote the grant to help cover the engineering services.”
Although the root cause of the damage has been attributed to floodwaters during Tropical Storm Irene, the problem didn’t become evident until this spring, when a section of the cement and stone wall collapsed into the river. Subsequent rains and increased river turbulence scoured away the soil behind the damaged area, threatening the stability of Finnegan’s Village Pub building and Cady’s law office building.
An initial evaluation of the damage made during work to temporarily stabilize the bank suggested that the problem was even worse than first thought. Engineers offered ballpark estimates of $30,000 to $100,000 for permanent repairs.
Making matters worse, the property owners and the town found little cooperation from the state in obtaining permits to work in the river. But after his address to the Vermont Historic Preservation Conference at Memorial Hall in early June, Gov. Peter Shumlin inspected the extent of the damage himself. Within a couple of days, the town reported that the necessary permits had been issued.
Cady said the final cost proved to be substantially lower than had first been expected, thanks to a plan developed by architect Joseph Cincotta and Urbinati Construction owner Gary Urbinati, and approved by engineers. Although the final cost hasn’t been billed yet, Cady said it was expected to be around $25,000.
With work completed on the riverbank, Cady says he plans to resume repairs on his building, with the intention of eventually reopening his office in Wilmington.
Marshall says the grant for the work on the river bank is just the beginning of the church’s work in the community. “It was stated in the grant that St. Mary’s would really wrap around the community,” she says. “We’ve already been involved in the food pantry, and now we’re joining with Twice Blessed, an organization we can really get behind.”
Shortly after Tropical Storm Irene, Marshall also wrote a grant for Deerfield Valley Community Cares, an organization that provides home heating fuel assistance in the valley. DVCC’s “Best Dam Walk” fundraising event, scheduled for the weekend after the flood, had to be canceled, depriving the group of their biggest fundraising event. The grant, also through the Episcopal Diocese, provided $5,000 in funding for DVCC.