BENNINGTON – US MP Peter Welch took a close look at Bennington’s past and future on a late Friday morning visit to downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Welch, D-Vt., The only member of the state’s House of Representatives, spent time in and around the Four Corners, on a residential street where the city’s main redevelopment project is underway, and attended a residential substance abuse treatment program at the 50th anniversary.
Along the way, Welch promoted the $ 3.5 trillion infrastructure plan that the US House of Representatives passed in August and how it could benefit Vermont communities like Bennington.
The prime example of infrastructure spending in action was found at Welch’s first stop in the morning: Division Street, where workers from MSK Engineering and Design and the City of Bennington were digging a water pipe connection for testing. The city is in the first phase of a lead water pipeline reduction project, and workers told Welch how the work is progressing and why having $ 11 million upfront in government revolving water funds has made a big difference.
City Manager Stuart Hurd, State Representative Mary Morrissey, State Senator Brian Campion, Bennington Select Board Chair Jeannie Jenkins, and Interim Director of Better Bennington Corp. Mike McDonough joined the workers who paused for a question and answer with Welch.
In addition to the economic ramifications of tackling potential lead contamination in drinking water, “having resources available is transformative,” said Liam McRae of MSK Engineering and Design. “It’s not just about the money, it’s also about letting someone know that they may be at risk, that you need to seek mediation for that risk now instead of taking multiple steps.
Welch said projects like Bennington’s lead mitigation initiative showed that infrastructure is a bipartisan issue that can bring people of different political beliefs together for the common good.
“With this stuff, it doesn’t matter who you choose. We all want clean water, ”said Welch.
He later expressed confidence that the Infrastructure Act would be passed and put into effect.
“It’s a complicated process, but at the end of the day we will pass it,” said Welch. “It had very strong bipartisan support from the 60 Senate vote. And President Biden negotiated the change. So I think we will make it. “
From there it was on to the new home of Bennington Bookstore on Putnam Block, where the venerable retailer, whose roots go back to 1928, has been open since June. Owner Linda Foulsham told Welch that the company has seen more visitors since moving to the new location and has benefited from the newly available off-street parking.
Before leaving, Welch got a copy of Bennington in World War II, a new book by Anthony Marro. The bookstore invites you to a book discussion with Marro on Sunday at 4 p.m.
“It was tough when the pandemic hit, so I want to thank you for all the work you have done to support us,” said Foulsham.
“Did it work out?” asked Welch.
“Absolutely,” replied Foulsham.
“That makes me feel good,” said Welch. “If you remember the 2008 financial crisis, all of the major banks were bailed out and everyone who caused the collateral damage had to find an end for themselves. At least this time we focused on Main Street instead of Wall Street. “
From there it went to 421 Craft Bar and Kitchen, W. Collective and SEALL Inc. on Depot Street in honor of the 50th anniversary of this program. SEALL has offered community-based residential care programs at its Depot Street locations since 1971.