Rockingham Selectboard vote on Depot Bridge options

Depot Bridge
The Selectboard held their annual meeting at the Rockingham Meeting House Tuesday, Aug. 6. Photo by Betsy Thurston

ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – On Tuesday, Aug. 6, the Rockingham Selectboard and residents were welcomed to the Rockingham Meeting House by Docent Rosemarri Roth before their meeting and discussion of the Depot Street Bridge and downtown vacant space.

Roth explained the meetinghouse was established as a United States Landmark in 2000, in the same category as the Statue of Liberty, the Alamo, and the White House. Roth stated this building “exemplifies the state of Vermont’s determination and dedication” and hopes the town of Rockingham and community will support it for ages to come.

In regards to the Depot Street Bridge project, Susan Hammond requested a motion to accept the off-alignment bridge. Kelley Tully of Cota & Cota reiterated the safety concern of the on-alignment option and commented that the off-alignment would enable their trucks to bypass downtown. Village Trustee James McAuliffe shared his disappointment on the lack of flexibility for the turning radius and supported the off-alignment while Village President Deborah Wright said that this “is an opportunity to move forward” with a bridge for the future. Stefan Golec and Hammond voted for the off-alignment and Peter Golec, Ben Masure, and Gaetano Putignano voted against.

Putignano made the motion to accept VTrans’ recommendation for the on-alignment replacement of the Depot Street Bridge. He explained that if it was the only bridge to the island, he might support the off-alignment. He added his concern was with the condition of the current bridge that the town would be responsible to fix.

Resident Barnett noted “at some point [the Depot bridge] would be the only access for trucks coming from the south [when Bridge street is under construction] and the angle would make it more difficult from Canal to Depot Street.”

Peter Golec said he thought that the Bridge Street construction could allow for traffic with one-way lanes. Putignano commented there had been thorough discussion and public input meetings. The Selectboard voted for the on-alignment bridge 3 to 2.

Municipal Manager Wendy Harrison requested for David Stern of Main Street Arts to utilize the empty space formerly rented by Cafe 7 while preparing for The Secret Garden beginning in October. Currently, the space is vacant and Stern would use it to showcase costumes, build props, and ultimately promote the show. Harrison said it would offer a “visually compelling” storefront. Development Director Gary Fox agreed their use of the space could attract new tenant interest. Stern agreed to pay utilities and could vacate immediately if the town found a tenant.

The next Selectboard meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 3 in the Lower Theater of the Bellows Falls Opera House at 6 p.m.

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