by Andrew Martin
The work by the Village of Jeffersonville to procure the funding needed to purchase the 4.2 acre lot owned by Jolley Associates in the village has received a huge boost. On September 20 the village trustees learned that they had received a $125,000 grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) to help fund the purchase.
“This is a tremendous boost to our efforts to purchase the land and an important validation of our efforts to conserve a major floodplain in our community,” said Village Trustee Tammy Fenton in a press release, “We are extremely grateful that the Board recognized the importance of this land to flood-remediation efforts in our community.”
“VHCB is pleased to support Jeffersonville’s efforts to conserve this property,” said Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director. “Conserving land along rivers and floodways develops flood resiliency while allowing for public recreation and wildlife habitat preservation. Protecting this property will prevent future expenses that would be incurred by the town, homeowners and private business in the event of another flood were the land to be developed.”
The agreement by the village trustees to purchase the lot from Jolley Associates for a price of $402,500 was signed in January of 2012. The goal of the purchase was to prevent the development of the lot into a gas station. Thus far the trustees and a group of concerned citizens have raised $127,000 towards the purchase, meaning that the addition of the $125,000 grant brings the total funds raised to $252,000 at this point. Additionally, voters in the Village of Jeffersonville recently approved the use of up to $75,000 in local taxpayer funds that could be used to help make the purchase if needed.
While the $75,000 allocated by Jeffersonville voters can be used to help fund the purchase of the lot, the goal of the trustees is to use no taxpayer money in making the buy. In order to accomplish this feat the board is continuing fundraising efforts. The trustees expect to receive another $19,000 grant in the coming weeks while continuing to search for other federal and state funding. Local fundraising efforts, including a raffle to be held at the October 17 Jeffersonville Farmers Market, are continuing as well.
Jolley Associates first purchased the 4.2 acre lot in May of 2010. The village trustees and concerned citizens hope that by purchasing the lot they can keep it development free. It is feared that any development on the lot would force more floodwaters into the rest of the village in the event of major flooding like that seen in the spring of 2011.
A number of possible uses have been suggested for the lot once the village has finalized its purchase in early 2013. Among the ideas put forth was using the land as a year-round open space for sports, farmers’ markets, community festivals, and concerts.
“In conjunction with other improvements planned for the Village, eventually we’ll be looking at ways the land can be used to bring more people to our great community and support our local economy,” said Fenton. “Ultimately it will be up to the residents to decide. They’re the ones who are making all of this possible.”
While the question of how the lot will be used is one that must be answered eventually at the present time the trustees and other involved citizens are more concerned with completing the necessary fundraising to actually buy the lot. Anyone wishing to donate money towards the purchase of the lot can do so by sending funds payable to the Village of Jeffersonville, P.O. Box 189, Jeffersonville, VT 05464. Anyone wishing to learn more about the purchase of the lot can also contact the Village of Jeffersonville Office by phone at 644-5534 or by email at HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" email@example.com.