August 18, 5:30 pm:
Local Emergency Planning (LEPC), Brattleboro Retreat
August 25, 7:00 pm:
Marlboro College Graduate Center, Brattleboro, VT
**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
(Brattleboro and Surrounding Area)
DEADLINE: October 15, 2015
(Brattleboro and Surrounding Area)
DEADLINE: October 15, 2015
National Endowment for the Arts
DEADLINE: September 21, 2015
USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans
DEADLINE: Ongoing (contact USDA office)
New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
(Seed Grant) and
September 15, 2015
Vermont Community Development Program
Vermont Community Foundation
DEADLINE: October 1, and December 1, 2015
VTrans Transportation Alternatives Program
DEADLINE: October 16, 2015
Upcoming Grants will be a regular column in the WRC Newsletter, for a complete list please click here.
For additional information about grant possibilities for your projects please contact Susan at
Connecticut River Bikeway Routes Map Released
Are you looking for suggestions on bike rides in the Tri-State region this summer? The recently-released map of bikeway routes along the Connecticut River Scenic Byway can help you out. The map covers parts of three states and shows bike routes from Putney, VT and Walpole, NH in the north to Easthampton and South Hadley, MA in the south.
The map was prepared by the Franklin Regional Council of Governments in Greenfield, MA in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Windham Regional Commission (WRC) in Brattleboro contributed data for the Vermont portion of the map, which shows easier, intermediate, and advanced bike routes, off-road bike trails, bike shops, picnic areas, ice cream stops, and more.
Copies of the map are free. In Vermont maps are available in Brattleboro at the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, Burrows Specialized Sports, and Brattleboro Bike Shop, in Guilford at the Vermont Welcome Center on I-91, and in Putney at the West Hill Shop.
If you're looking for more detailed information on biking in eastern Windham County, WRC's Bicycle Suitability Maps are still a great choice. These maps can be downloaded here
or from the sources listed above. A small fee may be charged.
Local Government Climate Adaptation Training
EPA has released a new online training module to help local government officials take actions to increase their communities' resilience to a changing climate.
The training module can be accessed here
The training explains how a changing climate may affect a variety of environmental and public health services, such as providing safe drinking water and managing the effects of drought, fires and floods. It describes how different communities are already adapting to climate-related challenges and provides examples of effective strategies that have been implemented in cities and towns across the country. The module also provides links to a number of resources that can help local government officials get started with adaptation planning in their own communities.
The training module was developed with advice from EPA's Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC), which is composed of elected and appointed officials from states, tribes, and local communities from around the country. Read a related blog post, "Preparing Communities for Climate Change
", from Mayor Bill Finch (Bridgeport, CT), who chairs the LGAC's Climate Change Resiliency and Sustainability Workgroup.
VT Economic Resiliency Initiative (VERI) Brattleboro Report Released
Over the past year, the Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative (VERI) has been working with five communities to examine flood resiliency and look at ways businesses can help prepare for, and quickly recover from, the next disaster. A major product of that work is a recently-released report for Brattleboro, outlining municipal policy and program recommendations, high-priority site-specific projects to improve channel and floodplain, infrastructure, and public safety, and next steps for the community.
The report is the work of a project team of municipal and state officials, river scientists and engineers, and planners, along with the input of members of the community. The report can be viewed here. More information about the VERI project can be found here.
Green Infrastructure Workshops Coming in September
The Windham Regional Commission will be presenting two workshops on Green Infrastructure
in September. These workshops will explore opportunities for Vermont municipalities to reduce the impacts of stormwater on municipal budgets and assets while protecting vital natural resources.
Please join us at one of these two events:
- Tuesday, September 15th from 9:30am - noon at the Jamaica Town Hall, 3735 Route 30, Jamaica, VT
- Wednesday, September 16th from 5:30 - 8:00pm at the Brattleboro Food Co-op Community Room, 2 Main St, Brattleboro, VT. (The Community Room may be accessed from Canal Street.)
During these workshops, we'll discuss:
- what Green Infrastructure (GI) is and some examples of how it is used
- tools for self-assessment of town's current bylaws (e.g. parking ratios, lot coverage, density, landscaping, etc) and whether they help or hinder GI
- what measures your towns are already using to promote GI
- how to promote GI in your municipal plans (town plan, open space plan, stormwater master plans, flood resiliency, etc.)
- the (almost) updated State Stormwater Manual and the coming Municipal Roads Stormwater General Permit.
Green Infrastructure (GI) means different things to different people depending on the context in which it is used. In Vermont we define it as "a wide range of multi-functional, natural and semi-natural landscape elements located within, around, and between developed areas at all spatial scales." This includes everything from forests and meadows to wetlands, floodplains, and riparian areas. As we plan for and manage residential and commercial development in our communities, it is critical to maintain and enhance this Green Infrastructure for the variety of ecological goods and services it provides such as clean water and air, carbon sequestration, flood control, climate change mitigation, and stormwater management.
Low Impact Development (LID) and Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) are two tools that promote the preservation of existing GI assets and utilization of GI to capture, filter, and infiltrate stormwater from developed areas. LID is a planning and design approach that seeks to maintain GI by minimizing land disturbance and avoiding sensitive ecological areas.GSI is a set of on-the-ground management practices that allow stormwater to be managed in the areas where runoff is produced, and seeks to restore and maintain natural hydrologic processes.
Refreshments will be served at these events. An RSVP is greatly appreciated! To RSVP or for additional information, please contact Kim Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (802) 257-4547 ext. 108.
Congratulations to the New England Youth Theatre!
On August 15th the New England Youth Theatre (NEYT) had a ribbon cutting to celebrate completion of the first phase of its brownfields clean up. Fo
llowing a matinee performance of "Urinetown," NEYT's summer musical, NEYT publically honored the many people who contributed significantly to the project.
NEYT has worked with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Vermont Department of Conservation, and Windham Regional Commission for many years to address the contamination of its property. NEYT's property, including the former Tri-State Auto building and Livery Building has a long history of industrial use. As a result, those buildings and the soils surrounding NEYT were contaminated with lead, asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). NEYT's remediation was part of the theatre's larger redevelopment goals, including increasing outdoor play areas, accessibility, and pedestrian safety.
The first step of the remediation was to remove the lead paint from the side of the brick building. The building was built in 1904 and has gone through many transformations over the last century. Lead was a common addition to paint manufacturing, until the 1970s, when its toxicity was fully realized. Funds from
the Windham Regional Commission's Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund and Jane's Trust-a foundation
located in Boston, MA-supported the abatement of the building's exterior. Those funds were
also used to remediate the soil next to the building.
There is new topsoil across the entire site, and a number of new planting beds. Grass and wildflowers are growing quickly! For the past many years, this area has been fenced off, so everyone at NEYT is excited about this new play space. NEYT is waiting until the weather cools off to put in permanent flower beds and more trees. The redesigned flow of traffic maximizes pedestrian safety and accessibility. For more information contact Susan McMahon at x114 or email@example.com.
Floodplain Administrator Training
to be Held September 3rd
The Windham Regional Commission is partnering with Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and FEMA Region 1 to offer a full day of training for Floodplain Administrators and other involved with issuing permits for development in floodplains. The training is geared to give a basic overview and knowledge base for attendees. The day long training will cover:
- Introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program
- Floodplain Ordinance Administration - The Basics (Zone AEs and Approx Zone As)
- Elevation Certificates
- Substantial Improvement - Substantial Damage
- Noncompliance issues (variances/enforcement -1316s, Insurance implications, probation/suspension etc.)
- Hands-on Exercise - Example permit application (working with maps/FIS profiles/EC)s
This training came about as we became aware of the need for better recognition and training of Floodplain Administrators throughout our region. We hope to be able to offer more advanced and specialized floodplain trainings in the future. If you are interested in attending, please contact Alyssa Sabetto at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 802-257-4547 ext 109.
Congratulations to the Towns of Brattleboro and Rockingham on their recent Brownfields awards! Brattleboro will receive a $400,000 Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield Assessment Grant. The Town of Rockingham will receive technical assistance from the State of Vermont's Brownfield Economic Revitalization Alliance (BERA) program.
Brattleboro's funding, $200,000 for petroleum and $200,000 for hazardous substance assessments will be available October 1st. The town will use this funding for environmental site assessments to assist with land transactions on sites where redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
The Town of Rockingham was chosen to be a part of BERA to assist with the town's redevelopment of the former Robertson Paper Mill on The Island in Bellows Falls. BERA is a collaboration between the Agency of Natural Resources, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Agency of Transportation. The alliance was formed to facilitate better communication between federal, state, regional and local officials, providing priority funding from state programs, and access to coordinated and timely permitting.
The Windham Region Brownfields Reuse Initiative (WRBRI) was established in 2000 with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has been working hard with the Towns of Brattleboro and Rockingham, as well as other regional communities, to promote vibrant communities by facilitating brownfields redevelopment. To date, WRC has utilized $1,117,203 of their Brownfields Assessment and Clean up funds in Brattleboro and $611,095 in the Town of Rockingham. WRC is excited that there are now additional resources to provide assistance for brownfields and looks forward to working with both towns as they move forward on these new endeavors. For more information contact Susan McMahon at x114 or email@example.com
VT Small Business Continuity Planning Workshop to be held Sept. 10
Is your business ready for the next disaster? Many small businesses lack the capital, resources, and staff to withstand the impact from serious weather-related disasters, power outages, cyber attacks, even everyday disruptions caused by service interruptions, a widespread flu epidemic, or the failure of a key supplier.
FEMA is presenting a free, hands-on small business continuity workshop in Vermont - exclusively for Vermont small business owners - on Thursday, September 10 from 9 AM to 2 PM at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. National and local experts will be on hand to help business prepare action plans to help assure they can weather the next storm or disaster. This workshop supports the efforts of the ongoing Vermont Economic Resilience Initiative, or VERI, that is taking place in Brattleboro and four other communities in the State.
More information is here
. Note that registration ends September 4.
VY Transition Meeting was a Success
With Vermont Yankee shutting down, there are ripple effects in terms of financial assistance to Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) towns in the region. Vermont Yankee will be discontinuing funding assistance at some point in the coming years. This discontinuation will mean an adjustment for EPZ towns in how they handle emergency management.
The Windham Regional Commission, two non-
EPZ town Emergency Management Directors (EMDs), and the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) addressed this transition of having a funded EPZ program to an emergency management program that does not receive outside funding assistance. Non-EPZ town EMDs, Kevin Beattie (Londonderry) and Paul Fraser (Jamaica) volunteered their time to participate in the discussion about best practices in emergency management in Vermont, and how emergency management functions in non-EPZ towns. Representatives from Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, Halifax, Marlboro, and Entergy VY attended the meeting. Discussion topics includes resources to assist towns at the state and regional levels; example budget and budget considerations for a town emergency management program; and the remaining Radiological Emergency Response Plan timetable
The Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative Receives $32,000 Grant to Address
Flooding is, by far, the most costly and devastating natural disaster that the State of Vermont has experienced in recent history and the Saxtons River is no exception. Significant flood events in the Saxtons River occurred in 1927, 1936, 1938, 1973, 1996 and 2011. Scientists project that the northeast may see an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms, which could result in an increase in flood events. These conditions require that we creatively, collaboratively, and actively explore new ways of addressing flood resiliency.
The Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative formed in the spring of 2015 to do just that. With funding and support from the High Meadows Fund, the 18-month project takes a watershed-scale approach to resiliency through a multi-faceted partnership that integrates conservation, education, and policy to protect public safety and infrastructure while helping to protect our water resources.
From the headwaters of the Saxtons River eastward to where the river enters the Connecticut River, the participating towns include Windham, Grafton, Rockingham, and Westminster. The Windham Regional Commission (WRC), Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District (WCNRCD), Vermont River Conservancy (VRC), the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and the Windham Foundation have partnered with these towns to support the work. These entities form the core, but not the boundaries of this Collaborative. Building strong relationships with diverse local public and private entities will continue to be a core goal of this project.
The grant's multifaceted approach includes several components: The WCNRCD will work with Grafton Elementary School students and other community volunteers to restore vegetation on 3 damaged riverfront sites through buffer plantings to help stabilize river banks and improve water quality. In addition, the VRC will identify property owners in the river corridor interested in establishing conservation easements in order to protect sensitive, flood-prone land from future development. As part of its educational outreach, the Collaborative will establish a public education center that demonstrates river dynamics and conservation practices. The center will house a flume (also known as a stream table) for modeling stream and river behavior to school groups, road crews and members of the public. The grant will be kicked off with a free public workshop that provides landowners and other interested individuals with the resources to conserve and manage lands in the river corridor to mitigate flood damage. Finally, the WRC will work with town officials to review existing town floodplain ordinances with consideration of where existing policies may be strengthened in order to help protect life and property.
"This High Meadows Fund grant offers tremendous potential for the communities of the Saxtons River watershed to broadly and collaboratively address flood resiliency. We are thrilled by the collaborative spirit that this group has demonstrated and look forward to seeing what can be created when we work together to engage our partners and communities on a watershed-scale," says Kim Smith, Planner at the WRC.
More information on the High Meadows Fund initiative can be found here
. For additional information about the Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative, please contact Kim Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (802) 257-4547 ext 108.
Taking the Long View on Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Choices
Planners necessarily take a long view. That is why the WRC has raised concerns about Entergy Vermont Yankee's plan to construct the second spent fuel storage facility in a location on the plant site that, by their own admission, could delay decommissioning when the time comes and increase decommissioning costs. To be clear we do not question the need for a second spent fuel pad; that need is a given. And we commend Entergy for its intent to transfer the spent fuel from wet to dry storage as soon as possible; according to their plan by 2021. Our concern is that Entergy assumes that the spent fuel will be picked up by 2052 by the U.S. Department of Energy ahead of their anticipated preparation for dismantling and decommissioning of the site in 2068. This is admittedly a long time out. But if Entergy is in a financial position to commence decommissioning according to their schedule we do not want the generation living here then wondering why a decision was made by Entergy and the Public Service Board in 2016 that caused additional cost and delay that could have been avoided.
To be sure the federal government and its political leadership has for decades failed utterly to meet its obligations and promises to the nation to address the long-term storage of high-level nuclear waste. But Entergy, and our state's regulators, are responsible for the choice to locate the spent fuel storage facilities in a location that complicates the demolition of the power block structures of the plant. In 2012 Entergy stated in its Decommissioning Cost Analysis, "The duration of the building demolition phase assumes that all fuel has been transferred to the new ISFSI [independent spent fuel storage installation]. It also assumes that the new ISFSI is located far enough away from the power block so as not to require any additional safeguards to be put in place for the protection of the fuel and/or the use of more benign dismantling techniques." In 2007, in a letter from Entergy counsel Downs, Rachlin and Martin, it was stated, "Dry fuel storage plans following shutdown in 2032 will consist of construction of a new storage facility outside the current protected area large enough to accommodate all fuel from the existing pad as well as the spent fuel pool." In 2006, the Public Service Board recognized in its order, "Certainly, other possible locations exist within the Vermont Yankee site that could accommodate a storage facility. Entergy VY will eventually need to construct a larger storage facility in such a location."
So what do we suggest? In our prefiled testimony just filed with the Public Service Board we recommended that the Public Service Board should require consideration of a single consolidated pad far removed from the reactor complex, and if accepted as an alternative, should hold Entergy responsible for all costs associated with constructing this pad and moving fuel from the original pad (rather than impose those costs on the Decommissioning Trust Fund). If the current Entergy proposal is accepted then Entergy should be held responsible for any costs associated with safeguards necessary through the decommissioning and site restoration periods (rather than impose those costs upon the Decommissioning Trust Fund), and should be required to show that the proposal will not inhibit redevelopment of the site. We believe our suggestions are reasonable and rational and are in the best interests of the generation that will oversee the eventual decommissioning of Vermont Yankee decades from now. Our testimony in its entirety, which includes citations of prior positions of Entergy and the Public Service Board, is available on our website.