Board supports chamber grant proposal
by Mike Eldred
Feb 21, 2013 | 2293 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOVER- Selectboard members pledged their support for a “rebranding” and marketing effort led by the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The rebranding effort would be funded through a USDA grant and matching funds from state and local sources, said Dover Economic Development Specialist Ken Black. “This isn’t just for Dover,” Black said. “It makes sense for the larger community to do this, since it is marketing and branding.”

Black said the grant would be administered by the chamber of commerce, but the program would be open to all businesses in the Deerfield Valley.

In addition to funding from Dover, chamber of commerce executive director Adam Grinold said he has also secured $10,000 from both Wilmington and Mount Snow, and is seeking funding from the Hermitage Club and the state.

If successful, the grant would pay for a rebranding study and plan, as well as a program to implement the plan. Grinold told board members that the project would be more than finding a new slogan or theme.

“Rebranding may not necessarily mean a new name,” he said. “We probably won’t come up with a new brand, it will probably be something we already know about. But we’ll get professional help identifying it and developing it.”

Grinold offered board members an example of a similar effort in the Northeast Kingdom. “You probably identify the Northeast Kingdom with the outdoors and wilderness. When they did a branding study they found that, yes, people did like that, but people didn’t want to get lost in the wilderness, they wanted to be on the edge of the wilderness. If you look at their marketing photos, they’re more to a human scale, showing families connecting with the outdoors.”

The study and plan would create a marketing/branding strategy complete with standardized colors and fonts that any business in the valley could use. “It’s about how we can create and use an image that would allow both the quilt shop and the snowboard shop to entice people to come to the area in the same way,” Grinold said. “It will also identify who to reach out to, and how to make our messages more unified.”

Classes and seminars will be offered to local businesses to allow them to evaluate their own marketing, and learn ways to align their marketing with other businesses.

Grinold said that the actual amount the chamber will request, as well as the extent of the program, wil depend on the amount of matching funds that can be raised. He explained that more matching funds will mean a greater likelihood that the USDA will fund the grant requests. “The higher your share, the more points you get,” he said. “If we go in with only 20% matching funds, we get the least amount of points. If we have 50% or greater, we get the most amount of points.”

Grinold said the chamber would adjust the grant request based on the matching funds he can raise from state and local sources, so that the request will remain competitive.

Board member William “Buzzy” Buswell asked Grinold to clarify that the program he was asking the town of Dover to support would be open to all businesses, and not just for chamber members. “I don’t want us to have a misunderstanding like we did when Dover funded a $100,000 advertising campaign after Irene,” Buswell said. “I think you’re making this clear that it’s open to all businesses in the Deerfield Valley.”

“That’s correct,” said Grinold. “These are federal dollars; we cannot limit it to member businesses. And without complete buy-in from other businesses, this won’t work. We’re going to get a nice little widget – our brand identity – and in the process, we will all realize that without a cohesive effort, we won’t get anywhere.”

Board members voted to support the effort with $10,000 in matching funds, provided that the application is successful.

In highway department matters, road commissioner Bob Holland told board members about plans to redesign the intersection of Handle Road and South Access Road, located next to the Snow Barn. The redesign is part of the state’s High Risk Rural Roads Program, intended to improve “rural roads with identified safety issues, (and) to achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injury crashes.”

Buswell, a taxi driver, and board member Tom Baltrus, a MOOver driver, both acknowledged that the current intersection has safety issues. Buswell said the problem wasn’t with drivers who are familiar with the four-way intersection. “It’s the other idiots,” he said.

Baltrus noted that the new design would include a more obvious stop for Handle Road traffic coming from the direction of Carinthia and Seasons. Currently, the road curves to the right, beckoning drivers who are headed to South Access Road to roll through the stop. Under the redesign drivers coming to the stop sign would have to make a 90-degree right turn onto South Access Road.

Noting that guard rails were part of the plan, board members expressed concern about the aesthetics of “shiny” galvanized metal guard rails. “I don’t want it to turn into Exit 1,” said Baltrus. “If they put the shiny galvanized things in, I would object to that.” He suggested painted guardrail.

Board member Randy Terk said galvanized posts with wood band rails would look fine. But town administrator Nona Monis said the Agency of Transportation wouldn’t use alternative materials. “They wouldn’t do anything that’s not safe, and wood snaps and the cables (used for guard rails) have been known to shear cars.”

Buswell asked if any changes to the Snow Barn parking lot, which has exits on two of the roads leading to the intersection, had been considered under the plan. “The Snow Barn is a disaster,” he said. “Maybe we could request Mount Snow put up stop signs coming out of the parking lot on both sides.”

Baltrus said he didn’t think the parking lot was a major contributor to problems at the intersection, judging from his experience as a bus driver passing through the intersection four times per hour. But Buswell said most of the problems were at night, after MOOver service has ended. “At night that intersection is worse than it is during the day because you have a bunch of intoxicated people driving around,” Buswell said.

“But if you have more stop signs, then you have a Mexican standoff ,” countered Baltrus.

In other discussions, the board reviewed a survey of the town’s library/day care property and an adjacent parcel at Dover Common. Both properties were the subject of confusion that arose during landscaping development discussions last year.

School board members suggested the library/day care building, the town’s former grade school, had never been officially turned over to the town. Tuesday evening board members said a title search of the property indicated that the transfer from the school to the town had, in fact, been completed.

But Baltrus noted that the adjacent parcel had been given to the school district with the stipulation that it could only be used for the construction of a school and that, if no school were to be constructed, it would revert to the heirs of the family that donated the land. “The school owns it,” said Baltrus, “but if there’s anything anyone wants to build on it other than a school, they can’t. So it sits in limbo. You can’t do anything with it. You can’t put a garage on it, you can’t put a library extension on it, you can’t put anything other than a school on it.”

“You can go to the heirs and ask them to release it,” said Buswell.

The town’s landscaping plan included an access road and parking on the parcel, although selectboard chair Linda Holland noted that the planned development on the parcel is not part of the initial phase of landscaping proposed at the common.

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