TRORC towns apply for almost $1 million from Better Roads Grant Program

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TRORC towns apply for almost $1 million from Better Roads Grant Program

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 12:55pm -- tim
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Chelsea Surgaring | Source: First Light Studios

TRORC Continues to Support Our Communities

It has also been a year since our lives turned upside down as COVID-19 became rampant in the U.S., resulting in shutdowns. Things are starting to look up, but we all must stay vigilant!

TRORC staff are working hard from home making sure our communities have the most up-to-date information available. TRORC's COVID-19 information page on our website is still being update to compile resources and provide examples of what other communities are doing to respond to this pandemic.

If your community or organization needs support, please reach out to Tory Littlefield at vlittlefield@trorc.org

Our offices are still closed to the public, and as the pandemic continues we are all more dependent on computers. Be extra mindful of email and internet security and only visit trusted sites. You may receive many offers of help from real or fake companies, but the best resources we can find will be on our website.

Thank you, and continue to stay safe!

Click Here for Resources on COVID-19

TRORC Announces FY 22 Scholarship Program

TRORC announces the release of the 2021 Scholarship Program. The Scholarship is part of TRORC’s economic development efforts focusing on investing in our future workforce.

Our region’s future is enhanced by both wise and forward-looking stewardship of the land, natural resources, and public institutions, and also through thoughtful investment in the next generation. TRORC has established an annual Scholarship Program to encourage and recognize high school students pursuing career and life choices consistent with the vision and values of vibrant and sustainable communities, as articulated in our regularly updated Regional Plan.

Up to ten $1,000 Scholarships will be awarded. All application materials must be received by the TRORC offices no later than the close of business on Friday, May 21, 2021. The full Scholarship Program announcement can be downloaded at https://www.trorc.org/about/trorc-scholarship-program/.

Questions and submissions may be made to Lori Kay at lkay@trorc.org or at 802-457-3188.

TRORC Staff Conduct Training on Zoning and Subdivision Bylaws

Over thirty participants from across the Region attended a virtual training hosted by Kevin Geiger and Kimberly Gilbert on February 18th. This training went over what town plans want zoning to do and how it can actually do that, including:

  • preserving forests or fields while still selling housing lots

  • promoting affordable housing

  • protecting water quality

  • keeping roads from washing out

  • reducing commercial impacts

If you were unable to attend, the training is now up on the TRORC YouTube page.

TRORC Assisted Towns Applying for the Better Roads Grant Program

TRORC assisted 14 towns and submitted 25 grant applications to the VTrans Better Roads program that was due last December. This funding is geared towards town road projects to conduct culvert and road erosion inventories, improve ditching, upgrade and install culverts, and upgrade large culverts and bridges.

The TRO Region requested over $500,000 in grant funds totaling $890,000 in projects. As noted in the VTrans Better Roads program website that no funding or awards will be issued until appropriated by legislative action. This is expected to be July of 2021. Please contact Rita Seto at rseto@trorc.org for further information.

Former Tip Top Tire Property and East End Park Brownfield Redevelopment Projects

The Tip Top Tire property in Wilder and the East End Park property in Woodstock are two of many brownfield redevelopment projects in the Region. TRORC staff assisted with the initial brownfield assessments using funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These funds are critical for taking that first step towards brownfields cleanup and redevelopment.                                                                                                    

Tip Top Tire

The former Tip Top Tire property in Wilder was used as a gasoline filling station and automobile repair garage for decades. A fire destroyed the building in 1993, and afterwards the site sat vacant for many years.  TRORC assisted with the environmental assessment of the site between 2005 and 2020, culminating with a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) that required soil remediation. The cleanup work has been completed and the property is now being redeveloped by Twin Pines Housing Trust into four units of low-income housing.

Over one million dollars were invested in the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of this site; the EPA, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfields Response Program, and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development all contributed funding. The construction of the apartment building is anticipated to be complete in June 2021.

East End Park

The East End Park area in Woodstock was once a blighted property on the Ottauquechee River. Over a decade ago, Sustainable Woodstock, a local non-profit,  took on a project to redevelop it into a public open space for residents and visitors.

TRORC was involved with the initial brownfields assessment using funds from the EPA. Since the East End was also the snow dump for the Town of Woodstock, it was determined that this had to be moved to a more environmentally secure location. TRORC managed a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in conjunction with the town to move the snow dump to another location that prevented road salt, sand, heavy metals, and other debris from entering the river.

After a community-led cleanup of debris and hazardous waste, the East End Park is now a restored floodplain and riparian buffer with public art, picnic tables, river access, and connection to a river loop trail. The total cost of this redevelopment project exceeded $680,000 in funding provided through private donations, the Town of Woodstock, the State of Vermont, and the federal government.

TRORC has received $1,500,000 over the past decade from the EPA to perform petroleum and hazardous waste assessments. 

TRORC works closely with Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation staff to promote redevelopment of brownfields properties, including enrolling properties in Vermont’s Brownfields Reuse and Environmental Liability Limitation Act (BRELLA) program. No one should ever buy a property with past commercial use without first doing a Phase 1 assessment, the minimum due diligence needed to avoid federal liability.  Don’t let a Brownfields site continue to blight your community and take up valuable space! Contact Sarah Wraight at swraight@trorc.org to learn more about our program.

The former Tip Top Tire property in Wilder is getting a makeover! The apartment building will be completed this summer. 

2021-2030 Farm to Plate Strategic Plan Published

In 2019, the Vermont State Legislature reauthorized the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) to create the Vermont Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030. The Strategic Plan contains a vision for Vermont's food system in 2030, 15 strategic goals with 87 objectives, and 34 priority strategies (recommendations for action). It is based on a series of 54 food system product, market, and issue briefs highlighting current conditions, bottlenecks and gaps, opportunities, and recommendations. This iteration of the Strategic Plan updates the 2011 Strategic Plan. This work by the VSJF can be considered the most comprehensive food system analysis plans in the country.

TRORC Staff Person Tory Littlefield assisted with the Food Security brief due to her involvement in the Local Planning for Food Access: A Toolkit for Vermont’s Communities, the Upper Valley Hunger Council, and a food security workgroup with the Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership.

If your community is interested in incorporating food security and food access into local planning initiatives, please reach out to Tory Littlefield at vlittlefield@trorc.org.

TRORC Towns Reimbursed for $339,000 of COVID-19 Expenses Through LGER Grant

The Local Government Expense Reimbursement (LGER) Grant was funded by the Coronavirus Relief Fund and provided reimbursement to units of local government for pandemic-related expenses paid in 2020. TRORC staff provided free assistance to our towns and eligible entities, helping them identify and document eligible expenses to submit to the Department of Taxes for review and payment. LGER covered expenses that were not covered by FEMA. Eligible LGER expenses included hazard pay, supplies and equipment, sanitation, facility alterations, overtime compensation, and redirection of staff for first-response needs. Fifteen TRORC towns and one fire district participated and were awarded funds through this program. In total, $339,000 of expenses were reimbursed to the TRORC region’s units of local government through LGER.

New Health Map Resource Shows State's Coverage Areas for Prevention Groups

TRORC and the Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership have created a new health map resource, which can be accessed by clicking here. This map shows Vermont’s boundaries for towns, Department of Health offices, RiseVT districts, regional planning commissions, and prevention organizations. This map is useful for determining coverages areas as well as gaps in coverage.

Helpful tips for navigating the map:

  1. Click the CONTENT tab in the left taskbar to access layers. Use the checkboxes to turn layers off and on.

  2. When you select an individual town by clicking it on the map, a box appears. Click through the arrows at the top of this box to see what groups service that town. Click the MORE INFO link within each box to access the organization’s website.

  3. Towns that are not within a prevention group’s service area feature diagonal line hatching.

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Town of Bethel Seeking Comments on LHMP

The Town of Bethel is currently in the process of updating their Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) and are seeking comments on the draft plan. Inquiries about meeting schedules, to see the draft plan, and to send comments, email Town Manager Therese Kirby at betheltownfinance@comcast.net or at 802-234-9340.

Regional Wonder

Moss Glen Falls - Granville

Vermont has its fair share of waterfalls but many of them take quite a bit of effort to reach. If you’re longing for the stunning view of water tumbling over rocks in a gorgeous cascade without a strenuous trek through the woods, visit Moss Glen Falls in Granville. This roadside attraction has all the beauty of our more hidden falls, no hiking necessary. Situated right off of Route 100 in Granville, this hidden natural wonder is stunning in all seasons. If you want a closer look, take the very short hiking trail to go to a boardwalk platform that serves as a lookout point for the waterfall. 

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Moss Glenn Falls | Source: Pete FellowsImage