Brandon selectboard chooses solar projects for ARPA funding


BRANDON –– After several weeks of discussion on how to use the $390,000 that is coming to town coffers from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Brandon selectboard honed its projects down to two — both around the idea of creating solar power to reduce the town’s overhead and carbon emissions. The projects were promoted by the Brandon Energy Committee.

One project would be to rebuild the town highway garage with a net-zero building, including solar panels on the roof to reduce long-term costs to the town. The other project would entail finding suitable land on which to build a town solar farm, perhaps allowing community residents to participate with a net-metering arrangement to reduce their own personal carbon footprints. The latter option, Town Manager David Atherton said, would involve municipal-wide votes and state approval, which is a much longer process to undertake. In either case, the town has until 2023 to pinpoint a project, so further study and conversation lies ahead, but Atherton said he’s pleased the town has narrowed their options to two.

“Frankly, I’m pleased that the selectboard has taken all the ideas from the community and narrowed those ideas over several weeks down to nine at the previous meeting and now down to two,” Atherton said. “We’re way further along that I thought we’d be at this point, and now we just have to sort through the details and decide how best to accomplish our top priorities.”

In other action at the board meeting, the town:

• Voted to approve closing a small portion of Park Street Extension on Sept. 11 for two hours, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., for a public concert by Point Counter Point music camp on Lake Dunmore.

• Voted to approve spending up to $127,000 for a new backhoe for the highway department to replace one that is on its last legs. The funding will come from the town’s local options tax money, rather than out of the General Fund, which means it won’t add to local property taxes.

At the same meeting, Town Clerk Sue Gage approved event liquor licenses for Common Ground Restaurant and Pub and Mae’s Place for a drag show at the Brandon Town Hall that happened on Aug. 20 and for Red Clover Ale for an outdoor beer garden at Green Park on Sept. 4 from noon-9 p.m.

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