"We're looking at opportunities and constraints to building a new sidewalk on School Street and also safe crosswalk design at School and Bonnet and what can we do to enhance the crosswalk at Memorial Avenue and Main Street," said Manchester Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Lee Krohn who will be stepping down at the end of next week. "Together the idea is what can we do to enhance opportunities for children to walk to school and also to enhance general pedestrian access in the heart of the downtown."
The Town received the grant on Sept. 18 for a scoping study, which requires a 10 percent match from the town. However, the town and Manchester Elementary Middle School have opted to share the $1,800 for the match.
"It's a great opportunity for the town and the school to collaborate on something of mutual benefit," said Krohn. "My hope is this can be a very useful project on its own, but also plant seeds for future opportunities for collaboration."
Once the scoping study is complete, Krohn said that the town and the school would then have to decide if the project was worth doing, whether the benefits outweighed the costs and what it would look like in terms of time and funding if they were to pursue the project.
He also said that it was possible to pursue parts of the project, but not others.
The potential project is also consistent with town plan projects as well as the community vision - the Manchester 2020 project, which is working with the Vermont Council on Rural Development.
"This is really great timing and it is part of why I'm so optimistic about this community going forward," said Krohn. "There's a lot of good energy. There's a lot of good things going on. The town plan supports this. The community vision priorities support this and this will help advance those ongoing efforts." Krohn said he believed that the scoping study would begin shortly and if the town ultimately decided to pursue the project that the could apply for construction money.
"From a program perspective, if everything looked good, went well and we were going to apply for money to build it, we couldn't apply for that construction money without first doing the scoping. So, this is useful on its own. It also sets the stage for applying for construction money down the road," said Krohn. "I'm thrilled that we got this. It's a great piece of a gift to leave behind that others can sort of carry on. I'm glad to have been able to help us get this grant."