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Ferrisburgh to survey residents on how to spend ARPA funds

FERRISBURGH — Ferrisburgh residents will have two ways to weigh in on how their town will spend the $804,000 of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding it has been awarded through that federal legislation approved this past spring.

The Ferrisburgh selectboard approved for Tuesday, Nov. 2, a public meeting at the town office building to listen to public feedback, plus a survey that residents can fill out either at the town’s website — ferrisburghvt.org — or on paper. Results will be collected before the Nov. 2 forum.

Selectboard Chair Jessica James said the board plans to have both options available by this Sunday, when the town and many of its nonprofits and businesses are hosting Ferrisburgh Day events.

One option that the survey will feature prominently is Maple Broadband. Internet service expansion is an allowed option for ARPA funding, and James said she believes strongly both in broadband expansion in rural Vermont and in Maple Broadband, the fledgling nonprofit that is proposing to provide it in Addison County.

“I think it is one of the most important things we can do for the town,” James said.

She said other members of the selectboard do not necessarily disagree, but James’ proposal to give at least $100,000 to Maple Broadband was defeated on Tuesday.

James said she understood her fellow board members’ point of view, especially with so much public feedback on the way.

“The other members want to hear more from the residents of Ferrisburgh,” she said.

The only other formal request for funding Ferrisburgh has received is from the Vergennes-Panton Water District, which serves more than 1,000 town residents.

Water district officials are seeking as much as half of Ferrisburgh’s ARPA funding, and said they are researching how much it will take to replace old cast iron pipes throughout the system. They are now collecting that and other information sought by the Ferrisburgh selectboard.

James said the survey will ask respondents to identify themselves as residents, business owners or landlords, as well ask what they consider to be the top ARPA spending priorities.

Other questions will seek general information, she said, such as the economic impact of and greatest challenges created by the COVID pandemic.

“We’re just going to look at the areas people want to spend the money on,” James said.

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