Bristol OK's $1M water bond, paves way for new business park

BRISTOL — Bristol voters passed a $1.1 million bond Tuesday to upgrade and extend the town’s water system. The vote passed by a count of 209 for and 133 against.

Bristol officials were happy that residents supported not only fixing infrastructure, but also supported a system extension that will help make possible construction of a proposed business park.

“We are thrilled that the residents saw fit to support this project to upgrade 1905 piping in the water district and to allow for the construction of a business park, which is a project Bristol has been trying to do for over 20 years,” said Town Administrator Therese Kirby.

The $1,115,020 bond will go to finance four closely related water-system projects:

• $490,951 (44 percent) to replace the 100-plus-year-old water line on West Street, from Airport Drive to Maple Street.

• $285,949 (26 percent) to extend the town water system to Lovers Lane.

• $235,652 (21 percent) for stormwater upgrades to West Street, to address drainage problems and bring that roadway into compliance with the Vermont Clean Water Act.

• $102,468 (9 percent) to extend the water line to the new fire station.

Bond vote in hand, the town can now apply to the USDA for a federal rural development grant that could cover up to 45 percent of the bond ($501,759), said Kirby.

Kirby is hoping to hear back from the USDA within a couple of weeks on what the town’s grant and loan package will be, but said that it’s impossible to predict the federal government’s timeline.

Once the requisite 30 days to petition for a revote have passed, and assuming they pass uneventfully, the town’s next steps would be to put the water project out for bid in mid-June and award a contract sometime in July. The town’s goal would be for construction to be completed by Nov. 30, said Kirby.

An important aspect of the multi-pronged project is that extending the town water system to Lovers Lane would allow the town to build a business park on 10 of the 30 acres it has owned behind the soon-to-be-completed fire station since 1999.

The two projects are linked because the town’s 30-acre parcel lies within the 1,000-foot wellhead protection area for the nearby Woodland Apartments. Once Lovers Lane is on town water, Woodland Apartments will no longer need its well or wellhead protection area. Therefore it will be possible to install septic and develop a business park on the town’s acreage on Stoney Hill.

According to Kirby, the town expects to take possession of a completed fire station by the end of June. The town’s arrangement with Bristol developer Kevin Harper was that he would finance and oversee the project, which the town would then buy in “turn-key” condition.

Sometime after that, said Kirby, the town can finalize the agreement it signed with Harper this past July for his Stoney Hill Properties to purchase 10 of the town’s 30 acres at $35,000 an acre and build a business park directly behind the new fire station.

A town-sponsored committee that includes the Bristol Planning Commission’s John Elder and Sue Kavanagh, selectman John “Peeker” Heffernan, Addison County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Adam Lougee, Green Mountain Engineering’s Alan Huizenga, and Kirby and Harper has been engaged for several months in planning for the new business park.

The group, supported by a federal grant, expects to issue its planning report in July. The goal of the report, said Kirby, is to both craft a vision for the business park that reflects the town’s best interest, and to get the project ready for Act 250 permitting.

Said Elder, “In passing this bond, the citizens of Bristol have made a substantial investment in the infrastructure and long-term viability of our community. One reason for upgrading and extending the water system was to make possible a new business park on Stoney Hill. This has the potential both to generate new opportunities for local employment and, in doing so, to support the compact village structure at Bristol's heart.”

OTHER TOWN NEWS

Kirby was also thrilled to report that the legislature made good on its 2015 promise to help Bristol with up to $145,000 to cover the costs of closing the town landfill. The landfill saw its last day of service in August 2015 and Casella Construction, along with Green Mountain Engineering, completed work on capping the landfill last November.

Bristol has so far paid about $609,000 to close the landfill, leaving about  $143,863 outstanding that the state is expected to pay by July.

“Bristol is so thankful to Reps. David Sharpe and Fred Baser, James Surwillo of the ANR (Agency of Natural Resources), Casella Construction, and Green Mountain Engineering for all of their support in getting the project done and assisting us and in requesting and being granted the money from the state of Vermont,” said Kirby.

Kirby added, “It’s definitely been a banner week. We’re celebrating the wins today. I brought Dunkin’ Donuts for the staff.”

Reporter Gaen Murphree is at [email protected].

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