PUTNEY, Vt. – The Windham Windsor Housing Trust and Green Commons of Vermont are proposing an innovative housing plan in Putney on land that is currently being used by the Putney Community Gardens and the Putney Farmers Market.
The groups want to purchase roughly four acres of land, which was many years ago the wildflower nursery owned by former U. S. Senator George Aikens and spreading across Carol Brown Way, in order to build housing on the southern portion of the lot, while still allowing space for the community gardens and farmers market.
A new nonprofit organization, Green Commons of Vermont would become the owner of both the community gardens and farmers market location, which is currently owned by Putney Gateway Associates. The general partners of Putney Gateway Associates are Jeff Shumlin and Marcia Leader, both of Putney.
Green Commons, which is currently applying for 501(c)(3) tax status, was launched with the purpose of acquiring and preserving green spaces, promoting local agriculture, and to assist in making food accessible for all. They are also very interested in preserving and providing local public areas for recreation.
“Green Commons was formed late last summer, as community members came together with the mission of preserving the land where the community garden and farmers market now live,” Emma Bliss of Green Commons said in a recent interview. “The piece of land will be purchased soon by Windham and Windsor Housing Trust from Gateway Associates, along with five other parcels in Putney, in order to build affordable housing.”
In a recent community meeting via Zoom conferencing, executive director of the Green Commons housing trust, Elizabeth Bridgewater, told Putney community members that the plan is to build a total of 24 housing units that will be located on both sides of Alice Holway Drive. The land for this proposed housing project was originally much larger, which included the lots that are now the homes of the Putney Public Library and Putney Food Co-op.
Once Green Commons of Vermont officially secures their nonprofit status, they will begin a fundraising campaign to purchase their proposed portion of the land. The initial plan is to obtain the previously mentioned Putney Farmers Market and the community gardens, which was established over a decade ago and currently has nearly 50 members, as well as a new pavilion and gazebo that can be used for concerts and other community outdoor activities.
“Green Commons would like to see this land remain an agricultural asset and, in fact, be purchased by our nonprofit and preserved as a public access space for the community. We see opportunities for further engagement with the community on this land and a hope that we might create more common green space in Putney.”
Currently still under design, the affordable housing duplexes will be one- and two-bedroom units suited for both families and individuals. Construction for the project will likely not begin for at least a year, while proper permits and financing are put into place.