The town of Colchester will purchase the gazebo and lending library at Severance Green to continue growing its “New Town Center” and remain compliant with state rules governing the designation.
The state New Town Center program allows towns to designate a downtown business district to access benefits to help grow and develop the area. According to the Vermont Downtown Board, Colchester’s one year “progress report” after its designation renewal in 2015 showed a lack of public and municipal infrastructure in the center.
In order to renew its New Town Center designation next year, Colchester is required by the Vermont Downtown Board to show how it will implement new civic infrastructure at Severance Corners.
The town originally proposed to the board in April to construct a public pavilion in the New Town Center to remain compliant. However, the board did not approve the pavilion due to its non-central location and lack of accessibility to public streets and walking paths.
In August, planning and zoning director Sarah Hadd presented a plan to the board to purchase the green and gazebo from the developer, S.D. Ireland, which are in a more central location in the New Town Center. They will be designated a public space in the town’s capital plan.
In a memo to the board, Hadd wrote that her department will work with the library and parks & recreation department to develop public programming for the new civic space. She hopes programs will be implemented by next summer.
Hadd said the green will also be accessible to schools in the area via bike paths that will be constructed within the circ alternative project called the Chittenden County Regional Transportation Improvement Plan for 2022.
“The green and gazebo will provide the most needed civic investment in the New Town Center: active recreation and community engagement,” Hadd’s memo says. “Acquiring the village green and gazebo will be a significant investment for the town and will provide a way to bring the community into the center.”
The New Town Center is up for renewal next November. The town is required to show proof of ownership of the green and also implementation of some initial programming for it to continue to register Severance Corners as its designated growth center.
The only public or municipal space currently in the New Town Center is a welcome center in the developer’s sales office with information for tourists, as well as a meeting room used for town functions, Hadd said. The town is currently leasing the space from S.D. Ireland.