FAIRFAX – Grant season is on the horizon and, in the Town of Fairfax, officials appear to have a fairly long wish list, town manager Brad Docheff told the town’s selectboard at the end of Monday’s regular meeting.
Once again, pedestrian projects have taken center stage in much of what Docheff shared with the board, telling them that Fairfax was looking to begin securing funding for the second and third phases of its sidewalk plan and rework a troublesome corner downtown.
The town completed the first phase of its sidewalk plan in late 2018 after nearly a decade of dedicated funding on the project went unused. That segment reworked sidewalks in the village area and extended them north to Rainville’s Collision & Repair.
The second and third phases stretch those sidewalks even further north along Route 104 toward the town offices and Nan’s Mobil, and, Docheff told the board, the town was now looking to possibly expedite their plans by combining the two phases.
Per Docheff, to start building the pool of funding for those sidewalks, the town would seek out the same grants they used to initially fund the first phase of sidewalks, a transportation alternatives grant.
“We’ll be really looking to kick off the next phase of sidewalk funding,” Docheff told the selectboard and audience of Fairfax residents.
The town is also exploring a bike and pedestrian grant for the corner of Maple Street and Main Street, which Docheff said they hoped they could clean up for pedestrian use and add a beaconed crosswalk bridging the town’s busiest intersection.
That application, to the Vermont Agency of Transportation, would not happen until spring, Docheff said.
The town was also exploring a historical revitalization grant for the 120-year-old church being restored as a community center, providing funding that, according to Docheff, “would speak to some of the issues we’re seeing at the community center.”
Paired with that, according to Docheff, would be an application for Vermont Community Development Program funding to make the church complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The two big aspects of that building that make it nonfunctional and not everything we want it to be and not usable are the structural integrity and the lack of immediate accessibility,” Docheff said. “Put those two grants together, maybe we’ll be able to check some boxes and make it a focal point in the town.”
Docheff said the town would also explore applying for funds from the Preservation Trust of Vermont to support preservation work at the community center and funding for developing the community center as a “third space,” a term referring loosely to safe gathering spaces between home and work or school.
According to Docheff, the town would also be exploring possible public transportation options through state programming in order to address the absence of public transit in Fairfax.
“We want to do something that would make sense, not just for the sake of doing it,” Docheff said. “I feel like, if we’re a satellite community… if you don’t have transportation to and fro, you really can’t live here, and if you do live here, you can’t work somewhere else.”
He said also said the town would host a representative from Mansfield Community Fiber, a community-operated telecommunications company organized in Chittenden and Lamoille counties that’s expanding north toward Fletcher, to talk about the town’s recently aired broadband concerns.
These updates all came at the end of Monday’s selectboard meeting, covered by the Messenger earlier this week when residents from the town turned out to question the proposed lease of public land for the construction of a cell tower.