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VNRC awards Small Grant for Smart Growth to support accessibility updates to Wheelock Town Hall

The Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) awarded a Small Grant for Smart Growth to the Town of Wheelock.

The $1,000 grant will be used to allow community members to collaboratively identify solutions for making the Wheelock Town Hall, a historic building that has served as the locus of town government and community life for 150 years, fully accessible in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The project entails soliciting public feedback on physical design alternatives for updating or relocating Town Hall for optimal accessibility and preferred use, taking intangible factors like community character into account.

The first of several community meetings will take place outdoors at Wheelock Town Hall on Saturday, October 24, from 1-3pm. A rain/snow date has been set for November 14. People are welcome to drop by and meet members of the Facilities Task Force, and add their input. In addition to information about Town Hall, there will also be information about the town garage, the agreement with the U.S. Dept. of Justice regarding ADA accessibility, and funding opportunities. Food to go will also be provided, as part of COVID-19 precautions.

“Buildings and organizations in neighboring towns have evolved to meet community needs, and with the conversations enabled by this grant, plus the hard work of our volunteer Task Force, Wheelock can do the same,” said Ann Lawless of the Selectboard. “This project is a catalyst to move us forward on a vital improvement that has been many years in the making.”

“We appreciate that folks in Wheelock are undertaking the hard work of finding creative ways to advance the years-long conversation about the community’s historic town hall. We are very pleased to fund community outreach and engagement activities that will help retain Wheelock’s historic town hall within its village center,” said Kate McCarthy, Sustainable Communities Program Director at VNRC, who administers the Small Grants for Smart Growth program.

“COVID-19 has schooled us in new community engagement skills and we are excited to strengthen public participation despite the pandemic, in order to ensure that community members are fully engaged in making our Town Hall accessible and Wheelock a vibrant community,” added Lawless.

Small Grants for Smart Growth, launched in 2018, provide seed money for community-based initiatives related to smart growth, encompassing advocacy for better land use; advancing transportation choice; supporting housing choice and affordability; promoting downtown or village revitalization; promoting conservation of natural resources; and more. Learn more at https://vnrc.org/small-grants-for-smart-growth/.

The Small Grants for Smart Growth program is made possible with assistance from Beth Humstone, co-founder of the Vermont Forum on Sprawl and former VNRC board chair, and her son, Chris Gignoux.