Wheelock Town Hall Accessibility Project Is Underway

Wheelock has hired a project team to help the town move toward its long-sought goal of allowing all citizens to fully utilize the Wheelock Town Hall meeting space and clerk’s office. Solving this problem has bedeviled the community for decades. While everyone sees the need to provide access to all, agreement on a strategy has been elusive. Town-wide discussions were held and new ideas were sparked at the Wheelock’s Future forums led by the Vermont Council on Rural Development in winter 2020. Ideas were further developed by facilities and communications taskforces throughout 2020.

The community has adopted a new approach – community outreach and architectural services moving forward in tandem. Voters need accurate information all along the way to provide guidance to town leaders before they are asked to fund a major rehab or new construction. The Town has been successful in attracting grant funds to assist with the new approach.

The Town has appointed a volunteer project committee and engaged an integrated consultant team that includes PlaceSense for the outreach component, MAKE architects and VISCC construction consultants as project manager. A project website has been set up at http://placesense.com/wheelock/. The group has completed a community survey as of 5/21/2021 and the results will be forthcoming.

Project Committee meetings are held monthly, on the second Monday of the month via Zoom. Agendas with login information are posted. Look under the Agendas and Minutes tab.

Vermont Community Foundation’s Northeast Kingdom Fund provided $2,200. The Municipal Planning Grant program at the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) awarded $20,633, one of 32 projects funded among 47 applications received from around the state. The Smart Growth Fund of Vermont Natural Resource Defense Council provided $1,000 for community outreach last fall. Northern Community Investment Corporation provided $5,000 towards technical assistance.

The VCF Northeast Kingdom Fund is a permanent philanthropic resource dedicated to supporting the people and communities of Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans Counties. Its grants are decided by a committee of local residents, providing philanthropy for the Kingdom, by the Kingdom. Visit https://vermontcf.org/ or call 802-388-3355 for more information.

The Municipal Planning Grant program, awarded annually and administered by DHCD, supports local community revitalization and planning initiatives. Since 1998, the program has provided $13 million to 237 cities and towns across Vermont, bringing people together to adopt useful and relevant municipal plans and implementing those plans through downtown revitalization, updating regulations, improved capital budgeting and innovative projects that to prepare for the challenges they face. Learn more at http://accd.vermont.gov/community-development/funding-incentives/municipal-planning-grant

Small Grants for Smart Growth, launched in 2018, provide seed money for community-based initiatives related to smart growth, encompassing advocacy for better land use; advancing transportation choice; supporting housing choice and affordability; promoting downtown or village revitalization; promoting conservation of natural resources; and more. Learn more at https://vnrc.org/small-grants-for-smart-growth/

Northern Community Investment Corporation is a certified Community Development Finance Institution. NCIC provides capital and expertise to strengthen businesses, communities and employment across New Hampshire and Vermont. Learn more at https://ncic.org/