Pedestrian Safety, Accessibility, and Lighting Renovations in Rutland, VT
Downtown Rutland has seen a number of improvements in the past six years, particularly in the walkability and "curb appeal" of the downtown core. The City has collaborated with Rutland Blooms, the Downtown Rutland Partnership, and Rutland Redevelopment Authority. In 2015, the City of Rutland received $100,000 from DTF for crosswalk improvements. This included new concrete slabs for the sidewalks, new pedestrian crossing signs, repainted crossings, and new flower beds (left).
Left: Merchants Crossing after renovations
The following year, the city received $62,320 from DTF to light up Center Street Marketplace. The project consisted of installing LED-powered light fixtures (as seen to the right) around the marketplace and down surrounding streets. Other aspects of the project included the construction of an ADA-compliant ramp at Bardwell House, a 75-unit apartment building in the downtown core.
Finally, in 2018, the city built off of their 2015 crosswalk project with a $55,000 grant from DTF to fund the addition of curb bump-outs to crosswalks and wayfinding signage for pedestrian navigability. Curb bump-outs have been proven to calm traffic, keeping pedestrians safe and traffic noise down. Wayfinding signage can help establish a community identity, and make the area more appealing for newcomers and visitors
Before these improvements, it was difficult and unsafe for pedestrians to patronize the businesses in the downtown core. Now, the downtown is an attractive spot for the community and visitors at all times of day, and of all ages.
Taylor Street Reconstruction in Montpelier, VT
With its proximity to the Statehouse, state agency offices, the Siboinebi Bike/Pedestrian Path, and I-89, Montpelier's Taylor Street has supported a high level of pedestrian and automobile traffic for decades. The street had been identified as an area of interest in three plans/projects in the previous few years. Its position as a gateway to downtown meant that the patchwork pavement and uneven/nonexistent sidewalks were painfully obvious to passerby.
The City of Montpelier's 2016 application to DTF was to bury utility lines, add 615 feet of new sidewalk, install 8 LED street lights, permeable pavement and other storm-water mitigation measures, and up to 10 Silva cells, low- to no-maintenance structures that support healthy trees and mitigate storm-water.
The revamped lighting, accessible sidewalks, and fresh greenery make this side street a main attraction to bike path users, public transportation riders, and state employees. Over the years, the trees will grow to provide ample shade and refuge from hot summers, and turn orange for the autumn color show.
Left: Completed construction on Taylor St
The Park @ 336 in Bennington, VT
Three years ago, an empty lot became a social spot in the heart of Bennington. The lot sat between two mixed-use buildings on Main Street, an ideal location for a pocket park that visitors and locals could patronize at all times of year.
Before 336 Main St was an empty lot, it was a coffee shop, so it's no wonder that the same lot would find new life as a community space once more.
The Town of Bennington applied for $50,000 from DTF to fund part of the $100,000 project. The Better Bennington Corporation fundraised over $25,000 in individual donations, and the project stirred up thousands of dollars in in-kind donations of labor and materials. The grant was awarded in late April, and construction started soon after.
Shaped by a curved metal wall and stonework, the parklet's greenery, benches, and a fountain are the main attractions. And attract it has! The park is often occupied by high schoolers and families, and has become a favorite spot for warm-weather lunch breaks and take-out dinners in the evening.
Left: The completed park (Shannon Barsotti)
Comtu Cascades Park Expansion in Springfield, VT
In 2017, Springfield's 2017 Master Plan recommended the demolition of the two river-side buildings next door to the Comtu Cascades pocket park. The dilapidated structures had been there for over 100 years, one formerly housing the Cobb-Derby grist mill (and later the Visiting Nurses Association), and the other simply known as "the Bakery Building". After appealing to local contractors to redevelop the sites, the town decided to move forward with demolition.
The town applied for a $100,000 DTF grant to stabilize the site, install handrails, plant trees and other vegetation, and pour a concrete path from the park's street-level side down to the river-side.
Left: Springtime at the Comtu (Brian Benoit)
Since the park has been completed, the town applied for a Better Places pilot grant to fund the activation of the space. "Concerts at the Comtu" will be a summer series of dancing, singing, and theater that starts in mid-August. In the mean time, more trees and vegetation have been added, along with benches from local artisans (right).
The park occupies a vital location; the movie theater, nail salon, coffee shop, and boutique are all situated nearby, and in early July, the Springfield Food Coop will open its doors right across the street. In a word rocked by COVID, these multi-use community spaces are vital in strengthening our bonds to the places we live.