August 13, 6:00 pm:
August 15, 5:30 pm:
August 20, 4:00 pm:
August 22, 5:00 pm:
**All Committee meetings take place in the WRC Conference Room unless otherwise noted.
**All meetings are subject to change, please check the website for updates.
UPCOMING GRANT OPPORTUNITIES
National Endowment for the Arts
DEADLINE: August 8, 2019
New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
DEADLINE: Sept 15, 2019
USDA Rural Development
Community Facility Loans & Grants
Communities with populations of 20,000 or less
DEADLINE: Ongoing (contact USDA office)
Communities with populations of 10,000 or less
DEADLINE: Ongoing (contact USDA office)
US Dept of Transportation
DEADLINE: August 30, 2019
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
DEADLINE: August 14 & November 13, 2019
Windham Regional Commission
For additional information about
grant possibilities for your projects please contact Susan Westa at
Upcoming Conference & Training Opportunities
September 19 & 29, 2019
October 10, 2019
Southern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association
October 17 & 18, 2019
November 6, 2019
Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association
November 13-15, 2019
Bretton Woods, NH
WRC Contracts with Efficiency Vermont to Expand Energy Program
Efficiency Vermont has partnered with the 11 Regional Planning Commissions in Vermont to build capacity and support energy committees in pursuing the implementation of energy efficiency and conservation goals. The Windham Regional Commission will build off of the strong energy program we've established and will partner with local organizations and groups on outreach, education, support, and implementation of weatherization, electrical efficiency, automated wood heat, and fuel switching programs. The WRC is excited to continue and expand work on energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions!
Municipal Planning Grant Season
It's Municipal Planning Grant (MPG) application time again! The application deadline is October 1, which seems far off but there are a number of pre-requisites to accomplish before a town can submit an application. DHCD has issued announcements about the FY20 MPG program to town clerks and other municipal email lists. Detailed information about the program and applying is available on line at DHCD's
. The WRC can provide assistance to towns wishing to apply. Please click here for more info. For further information or to request assistance, please contact John Bennett by email
or 257-4547 ext. 110.
VTrans Looking for Your Input on Public Transit
VTrans is updating the
Vermont Public Transit Policy Plan
(PTPP), examining Vermont's transit needs and proposing programs and policies to address them. We've heard from Vermonters across the state and have identified public transit issues and challenges, as well as potential strategies for addressing them. You can help us fine tune these items by
taking our new survey
and letting us know what you think. Survey takers can register for a drawing for a $50 gift card! Your input will help VTrans shape the future of public transportation in Vermont. The survey will be open until September 1st.
Got 5 minutes? Do you ride the bus? Carpool? VTrans wants your input
Transportation Planning Tech
Loss of Our Friend and Colleague,
On Thursday, July 11
we learned of the unexpected death of our friend and colleague, Mike Shaughnessy. Mike had worked at WRC as finance manager since he was 21 years old, and for more than 30 years was central to the operation of the Commission and our strong financial integrity. He was a resource for our towns and a leader among the regional planning commission financial managers.
Mike was our friend. His warmth and approachability made him our unofficial "staff psychologist." Because he managed leave and benefits he'd often be the first person to become aware of events in his colleagues' lives. His long tenure here meant that he shared his life's journey with those of other long-serving staff. We will miss him dearly. The sense of shock and grief are still present as we write this two weeks later.
To say that Mike loved and was deeply committed to his family and his community is an understatement. Our hearts go out to Tracie, Ryan and Jordan as they've lost husband, caregiver and father. We are also mindful of the friend that Bellows Falls has lost. Mike loved his hometown.
We are in the process of ensuring the continuity of our financial operations. We have retained interim bookkeeping service until we fill the Finance Manager position. Please contact Executive Director Chris Campany with any questions.
Windham Energy Grant Programs Move Beyond Coal and Expand Low Income Access to Renewable Energy
Windham Regional Commission's two renewable energy grant programs, the Windham Wood Heat Initiative and the Windham County Renewable Energy Program, funded through the State's Clean Energy Development Fund, have supported exciting projects this year. The Windham Wood Heat Initiative recently accepted a mixed use building into the program to support their transition off of coal! The Windham County Renewable Energy Program has two projects that just completed their installations which enable access by low-income populations to renewable energy. SEVCA installed a combination of ground-mounted and rooftop solar on their site in Westminster where the energy credits are allocated to low-income households. Brattleboro Housing Authority's Red Clover Commons in Brattleboro installed a rooftop system that powers the housing units there. These projects met the priorities of the Energy Committee because of their high level of impact.
Windham Regional Commission Receives $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant
WRC was selected as one of six organizations in Vermont to receive a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for environmental assessment work. The $300,000 grant will cover five site assessments, five cleanup plans and the development of an area-wide plan. This work will be targeted in the communities with the most need - Brattleboro, Bellows Falls and Wilmington - although brownfields projects throughout the region are eligible.
Brownfields are land and buildings whose expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
The Windham Region Brownfields Reuse Initiative has been funding brownfields assessment and cleanup work for almost 20 years. The new funds will allow WRC to continue assessing sites for the next three years. WRC's Revolving Loan Fund is available to assist property owners and communities with cleanup efforts. To learn more about WRBRI click here
Roundtables Bring New
Communication with GMP
Following requests from several EMDs at the January EMD/Fire Chief Roundtable, Green Mountain Power ("GMP") was invited to the April Roundtable to discuss communication with towns during long term power outages. The April meeting brought about an open discussion and several ideas, and Green Mountain Power asked to attend the July Roundtable in order to give themselves a chance to meet internally and then follow-up with the EMD/Fire Chief group with their ideas. That follow-up meeting was held on July 9
in Grafton. At that meeting, GMP put forward the proposal to hold twice daily conference calls with EMDs and Fire Chiefs during long term outages. This is something that GMP is doing on a trial basis for just the Windham Region. These approximately 30-minute agenda-based calls will be an opportunity for towns to learn of GMP's restoration plans, and to share pertinent information with GMP. Knowing GMP's plans for the upcoming day will allow towns to alert road crews to prepare for GMP, as well as have more information to assist EMDs in deciding on the needs for sheltering and Emergency Operations Centers, among other things.
This proposal from GMP shows that they listened to issues expressed by the EMDs and Fire Chiefs, and agreed that there is mutual benefit in regular communications with towns. No one asks for a long-term power outage, but the next time we have one, our EMDs and Fire Chiefs will be able to exchange information with our largest provider of electricity.
Introducing WRC's Summer 2019 GIS/Transportation Technicians
Summer is the height of the field season at WRC, and to help get our work done we've hired two GIS/transportation technicians.
Both Nick Young (left) and Mike Murphy (right) come to us from the Keene State College Geography Department. Nick hails from Pelham, NH and after pursuing a career in computer science, enrolled in Geography at Keene State. He plans to graduate this December. Mike is a recent graduate of Keene State and calls Wayland, Mass home. Golf is his passion. He has worked as a caddie since age 14 and more recently doing maintenance at a country club.
Nick and Mike join Lisa Donnelly who came to WRC last year as summer employee and is now a full-time staff member. If you see someone on the back roads of the Windham Region decked out in a safety vest and holding a tablet, GPS unit, or traffic counter tube, it might be one of our team. Say hello!
Grants in Aid Program Supports
Town in its Third Year
The Municipal Roads General Permit (MRGP) intends to achieve significant reductions in storm water-related erosion from municipal roads, both paved and unpaved. Over time, municipalities will implement a customized, multi-year plan to stabilize their road drainage system through the MRGP. The Grants in Aid Program has just launched its third season, and is a way for towns to receive reimbursement from the VT Agency of Natural (ANR). Resources to proactively address MRGP standards on their hydrologically-connected road segments.
This year, 25 of the 27 towns in the Windham Region enrolled in this reimbursement program to support the implementation of best management practices on selected road segments to reduce sedimentation into waterways. This program will bring just short of $395,000 into the Region for MRGP related work, such as reshaping and stabilizing ditches, establishing filtered sheet flow away from the road, replacing undersized culverts, and establishing filtered and stabilized flow from the right of way and into stream or brooks.
The WRC role in this process is to assist the towns by documenting pre- and post-construction conditions on these roads, and confirming MRGP compliance in consultation with the participating road foremen, and helping towns compile their expenses to receive reimbursement from ANR.
For more information about this Grants in Aid program or other water quality initiatives, please contact Emily Davis by
or 257-4547 x 116.
Envisioning a New Hinsdale Island and Bridges
The two bridges connecting downtown Brattleboro to Hinsdale, NH are the center of an exciting re-envisioning process. With the construction of a new bridge connecting the two states and communities, the historic bridges and island will be maintained as a bike and pedestrian corridor. The subcommittee of the Project Advisory Committee focused on the existing bridges has been charged with developing a design for the reuse of this space. This subcommittee has met twice over the summer and will meet again in August to solidify goals for the redesign of the space and an outreach strategy to gather input from the public. Although there are outstanding large questions concerning the long-term maintenance responsibility and cost, the subcommittee discussed a safe and clean corridor which includes the opportunity for public art, walking trails, and low impact river access with the potential for smaller scale pop-up events. The subcommittee will be working on outreach this coming fall to gather local input.
When Growth Comes, Where Will It Go?
"To plan development so as to maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside." It's the primary planning goal established by Vermont statute, and it's repeated as a goal in the Windham Regional Plan and town plans. But when growth comes, is that what your town planning work will deliver? Will the policies of your town plan, and bylaws (if your town has them), result in your plan's stated goals and objectives? Have you tested them to see what settlement patterns are supported and discouraged?
Now you may be asking: what growth? It's true that we're not seeing much growth at present. Most of what we have seen relates to resort plans. But what is true today may not be the case in 5, 10 or 15 years. Will communities in close proximity to I-91 become exurban destinations for Massachusetts commuters (Merriam-Webster Dictionary online defines an exurb is
a region or settlement that lies outside a city and usually beyond its suburbs and that often is inhabited chiefly by well-to-do families). Will expanded passenger rail service to Greenfield eventually become commuter rail? As coastal communities in New England explore "managed retreat" in the face of rising sea level, what will that mean for interior New England? Will northern New England become more attractive as other regions of the nation become less inhabitable?
These are a lot of "what ifs." But the time to investigate the intended and unintended effects of your town's planning tools is when a community is not feeling pressure. While we all do our best to look ahead with the best information we have and plan accordingly, I've learned to expect the unexpected. I've lived in two places that experienced rapid, unexpected growth. The first is Orange County, New York, where I served as Deputy Commissioner of Planning after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Being within the commuting sphere of New York and its related metro area, Orange County saw a surge of growth that rippled into neighboring Sullivan and Ulster Counties. This caught rural communities in particular by surprise. While I didn't live in Baton Rouge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, that area - urban and rural communities alike - saw a surge of growth as did Houston, Texas. It's not easy to predict what effects large-scale disasters will have on settlement patterns in the near and long-term. What would a hurricane the scale of that which struck New England in 1938 mean for interior New England in the present day?
In Calvert County, Maryland, where I served as Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning, we focused on directing growth into compact town centers as the county became an exurban destination for commuters to the D.C, Baltimore and Annapolis metro areas. What I learned there, and earlier living in northern Virginia and later living in New York, is that commuters will tolerate long commutes to housing they deem affordable in places they like to live. When I worked in Washington, D.C. in the early 90's I was surprised that a colleague was commuting by train from West Virginia and then biking to the office. That's now common practice for thousands of commuters daily.
I'm not proposing that the Windham Region is destined to be a hub of exurban growth or the destination for resettlement in the event of a major coastal storm, but the fact is we don't know. What is certain is that it's better to have policies in place before growth comes than trying to chase after it once it arrives. That's the hardest time to do planning. With that in mind, I suggest our region's town planning commissions take a look at what your plans say about what should be developed and what should be conserved, and then consider whether or not your policies and bylaws do what the plan says they should do. We'll be doing a similar review of the Windham Regional Plan as part of its next update.