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Pavilion, footpath proposed for Belmont Village

November 04, 2009
BELMONT — Imagine a roofed pavilion near the Belmont Mill, where farmers markets and other cultural events are sheltered from sun or rain, and a lighted footpath from Main Street to the mill these are the top two recommendations of the Belmont Village Revitalization Committee, and the selectmen have given the go-ahead to apply for a grant for these projects.

The Revitalization Committee began earlier this year with a mission to make recommendations of short and long term improvements to the village area. At Monday night's selectmen meeting, selectmen representative David Morse explained the committee's draft summary report and its recommendations.

Morse said the committee narrowed their recommendations down to five, and he named two as top priorities. The first is the construction of an open-sided roofed pavilion on town-owned property abutting the south side of the mill. The purpose would be to provide a weather-protected venue for future events such as farmers markets, flea markets, expanded Old Home Day activities and other public functions. According to the draft summary, the committee supports the project because it would draw people to the village, give purpose to the underutilized space, and is a good candidate for grant money.

The second recommendation is to close the one-way portion of Mill Street and in its place install a lighted footpath from Main Street to the mill. This project would create more green space and allow the bandstand to be moved to a more prominent location, closer to its original home.

"I think these two projects are very cost-effective and provide a lot of long-term benefit to the people of the village district," Morse said.

The other three recommendations include reviewing the potential for implementing a Tax Increment Finance District; establishing public river walk trails that begin at the mill; and determining the feasibility of constructing a small park on town-owned land by the mill's old penstock.

"It's probably the most active committee I've ever been a part of in the town," said Selectmen Chair Ron Cormier, who sat in on about half of the committee's meetings. "(They) really brought forth tons of ideas."

Cormier said the main focus was figuring out how to bring people into the village area without turning it into "an Exit 20," and the committee agreed that making the area event-driven would be the best solution.

"The idea of pavilion came up to avoid harsh weather," Cormier said.

Both the pavilion and the footpath are potential candidates for USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Grants, which are being accepted on a first come, first served basis. A committee member has agreed to write the grant application pending approval from the selectmen, which was granted.

"I think it's a great idea," Selectman Jon Pike said. "You clean that up and clean that area, as far as a town project it would be awful nice."

The committee will work with Land Use Technician Rick Ball on to come up with costs and conceptuals before submitting the grant application.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Town of Alexandria
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