Enhancing the green, enhancing the community

Swanton plans for summer and beyond

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

Just
The Facts

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SWANTON — Swanton Enhancement Project Steering Committee members bade one of their own farewell and prepared for their early summer projects at the committee’s meeting last night.

Swanton Arts Council (SAC) co-chair Judy Paxman gave the first update, summarizing the SAC’s activity with what has become her go-to phrase: “We’re rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’.”

“Our art walls have been getting a lot of attention,” she told the dozen-plus attending committee members, referring to Swanton’s community art walls, open canvasses on which anyone can paint anything at any time. The St. Albans Community Arts has discussed the walls as something that could be imitated in St. Albans. Additionally, the walls were highlighted in yesterday’s Messenger, and will be featured in this month’s Vermont Arts Council newsletter.

“A lot of people are watching us now,” Paxman said. She called the first Youth Art Show, held at the end of April, a big success: over 250 people attended, with over 200 art pieces featured. “This will now be an annual event,” she said.

Paxman thanked the village and specifically village manager Reggie Beliveau for their help in “schlepping tables out” of the Village Complex for the art show, and for making the space available.

The next SAC event is the pinwheel art installation on the village green May 28, followed by the annual barn quilt challenge, in which people can stick art on their barns or enter a quilting competition in July.

Paxman said the SAC is in the process of creating three new subgroups: a writers group, which they hope to have organized by November, a photography professionals group and an artist-led “Meet My Medium” instructional group.

Populating those groups shouldn’t be a challenge. “We’ve had 10 new members just in the last two weeks,” Paxman said.

Next, Sandy Kilburn discussed the as-yet-unnamed horticultural task force, which is hosting a flower-planting in the park this Saturday, May 21, beginning at 9 a.m.

“Please come, buy garden tools and pray for sunshine,” she said.

“We need as many hands as possible,” Hank Lambert said.

Sandy thanked Frank Shumway, of Shumway’s Landscaping & Nursery, “and his boys,” for their gardening help. Marie Hudak is supplying flowers. Jerry Barney has purchased a watering tool for the committee’s use, an eight-gallon, pressurized water tank, for which committee members voted to compensate Barney for during the meeting.

Swanton Town Library director Michelle Beaulieu announced the beginning of a children’s gardening club, which will start by filling in pollinator-friendly plants on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Sandy also updated committee members on the Substance Abuse Prevention task force. “The big thing for us right now is the Swanton summer camp,” she said — a drop-in camp for ages two to 18, to be held the first two weeks of August. “This is the first piece of early prevention we have been able to do through the task force.”

Each day at the camp will be four hours, including one hour of science and beginning and ending with 15 minutes of mindfulness. Sandy said camp directors have been located, and they are now reviewing counselor applications from the high school.

“It’s an exciting process,” she said.

The Outdoor Recreation task force has been focused on implementing new signs, detailing potential outdoor activities at and designating six recreation-friendly locations: the dam overlook, the Railroad Depot Museum, the recreation facility, the rec path, the river access at Foundry Street and Marble Mill Park.

“With so much interesting and exciting going on, how do you make this subject interesting, I’d like to know,” Ron Kilburn, the task force’s co-chair, mused. “We’re talking about signage. Look around the village, you’re going to see a sign on top of a sign. They’re everywhere. However, our signs, I pledge you, are going to be meaningful. They’re going to be informative. They’re going to make you want to go up to them, and be sure you know what’s on the bottom, so it will tell you what you can do at that location. We challenge people to ignore these signs.”

Joel Clark, co-chair of the downtown traffic task force, reminded attendees there is a sidewalk study scheduled for early June. He said the task force is in the process of determining the vendor for a proposed electric sign to be placed in the park, which will announce community events.

Sandy said people have come to her with concerns that the sign might be a traffic hazard, or might detract from the soon-to-be-planted flowers. Ron put forth he’d heard similar concerns, and suggested the committee discuss the sign’s location. “Feelings run deep for Swantonians when it comes to the park,” he said.

Joel said he was feeling “a little bit of surprise. I thought the project had been discussed. There was the initial discussion, and then we went before the village, and then the town agreed to pay for the other half of the sign.”

Nevertheless, the committee agreed to set up a separate meeting to discuss the sign’s placement.

Finally, the committee bade UVM student Brian Story farewell, who has completed his graduation requirements. Story has served as the committee’s communications expert, working on the SAC’s ongoing application to become a 501(3)c non-profit organization, applying for the USDA’s Rural Business Development grant for the Economic Development task force, which would allow the proposed town development coordinator position to be full-time, and working on general communications, such as the Enhancement Committee’s website.

Story received a round of applause. “I think you’re better off than when I started, and I like to think I had something to do with it,” he said.

“You’ve been a great help,” Lambert said. “You’ve touched a lot of us with your expertise and your wisdom and good nature.”

“It’s hard to be a good-natured person on this committee,” Ron quipped.

Attendees then had maple creemees in a farewell celebration.