“We feel we’re entitled to some of these economic development funds due to the type of project we’re doing,” said Sprung. “We’re not trying to promote a business, we represent the village center.” Sprung noted that East Dover was designated as a village center.
Sprung said he and Pritcher have already begun work on both buildings, with the help of local contractors. “The general store and post office were on the verge of being condemned for the septic system, which we’re replacing.” Sprung said the post office hadn’t intended to renew its lease until he and Pritcher began work on the building.
As part of their plan, Sprung and Pritcher hope to get the two buildings listed on the National Historic Register, and are already working with a consultant on the listing, Sprung told board members. Sprung said he had originally intended to tear down the scale house. “I didn’t realize all the historical equipment was still in there,” he said. “Now Brown’s Country Services is helping us save it.” Pritcher showed the board a photo of the building, which has been lifted several inches and no longer leans toward the road.
Sprung and Pritcher said they had requested funding for landscaping of the triangle from Dover’s economic development specialists Ken Black and Linda Anelli, and claimed they had been turned down.
But, under Dover’s economic development policies, Black and Anelli aren’t authorized to approve or turn down any projects or spending. The economic specialists can take applications for funding that meet certain criteria, and make recommendations to the selectboard.
Sprung said they believed that the landscaping could be funded under the economic development department’s area beautification mandate. He noted that the town planned to include Dover Common in its current landscaping effort, but had ignored East Dover.
“It’s the first thing you see when you come into town,” Sprung said, of his corner lot. “It’s kind of shabby now, but apparently at one time there were English gardens there.”
“It was a showpiece at one time,” added Pritcher.
Sprung said local stone wall builder Ben Bowen had agreed to build the stone walls for the garden. “I think most people around here know what his walls look like,” Sprung said.
Sprung and Pritcher presented several documents in support of their request, including the 2008 Dover Town Plan and the now-defunct Dover Economic Development Committee’s business plan.
Board member William “Buzzy” Buswell complimented Sprung and Pritcher on their presentation, but noted that there was no specific request for funding that the board could consider. “I hope you would give that to us at another meeting to see if there’s anything we can do,” he said. “I like the idea, but I don’t know where it fits at the present time. It was a good presentation, but the economic development plan has changed significantly, and there are money commitments that have already been made.”
Linda Holland noted that portions of the proposed garden might be in the town of Dover’s highway right of way, in which case there was a possibility that public funds could be available.
Pritcher appeared to threaten the board with the possibility that voters might end the 1% local option tax that funds the town’s economic development efforts if the board wasn’t forthcoming with money for the garden. “These folks,” she said, motioning to members of the public who were there to support her and Sprung’s request, “are the people who vote the 1% in. I’d hate to see it disappear over a stupid little amount like $10,000 or $15,000.”
In other matters, the board approved the hiring of Lamoureux and Dickinson for the engineering work on Valley Trail segment A, which runs from the southern end of the recently completed section to the Toll Gate Village area.
Lamoureux and Dickinson are also working on the town’s landscaping project.
Black suggested that both projects should be “under one umbrella.” He suggested that town administrator Nona Monis should be the point person for the projects. “Nona is the most knowledgeable person in dealing with VTrans and developing the grant,” he said.
In other Valley Trail discussions, Buswell said he had been approached by a couple of business owners regarding parking issues connected to public use of the trail.
“Parking is an issue we’re going to have to address,” agreed Monis. “Businesses have expressed concerns about parking spaces being taken up. There’s parking on the Cross Town Trail, but (the Valley Trail) can’t connect with it yet.”