Last week Wilmington received a notice of approval for a $25,000 VTrans Alternatives Planning Grant, which will allow the town to hire an engineer to map out new walkways, redesign old ones, and design safe bump-outs and crosswalks. Readsboro was approved for a $300,000 grant for a complete overhaul of over 4,000 feet of town sidewalks.
Wilmington will supply a 50% match through the town matching grant line item, bringing the total of the planning grant to $50,000. The town applied for the grant in October, using the town plan, the Conway School master plan, and the Arnett and Muldrow presentation from last summer, to showcase the town’s needs. The town is also in the process of applying for a downtown transportation grant through the VT downtown program, for up to $100,000, also to go toward the project.
The town is looking at replacing the sidewalks on North and South Main Street extending to their current location, while on East Main Street, new sidewalks on either side will run to the Route 9 bridge near the Viking Motel. On West Main Street, the town plans to develop a crosswalk at Reardon’s Crossing, and build new sidewalks that extend past Folly Foods and Wilmington Candle Company to the Wilmington Inn.
According to Wilmington economic development specialist Gretchen Havreluk, the project is necessary for addressing safety concerns, as well as helping businesses. “Foremost, what we stated in the grant, was our safety concerns,” said Havreluk. “There are a lot of uneven sidewalks. This will make for a more walkable community, which would also integrate into potentially more sales for our local businesses.”
Havreluk also said the town would be open to including trees, furniture, and other additions to the new sidewalk designs. While the project will take place in phases, Havreluk said the town is hoping the plans are put together by summer.
The state gave out a total of $2 million in grant money through the Transportation Alternatives Program, and Readsboro got a big chunk. The town will only be required to provide a 20% match of their $300,000 grant, equaling $60,000, while the state will supply $240,000. This will allow the town to construct 4,016 linear feet of new sidewalks on Main Street, East Main Street, School Street, and Tunnel Street.
According to town administrator Mark Shea, this is just one pillar in the town’s plan to revitalize. “This project took a lot of time and planning,” said Shea. “The selectboard is looking proactively into economic development, and seeing what Readsboro needs to become a thriving community again.”
Throughout the next year, the town will put out bids for an engineer to design the new sidewalks and eventually a contractor to construct them. Shea said the sidewalks will be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and will make mobility throughout Readsboro much easier and safer. “It will make the village a safer place to walk, live, and recreate,” said Shea.
Shea says the town is projected to begin the physical replacement of sidewalks next spring.