By Inge Schaefer
Hear any rumors lately, good or bad? Recently a reader mentioned a rumor that concerned them and asked me if I knew what was going on. Generally speaking, I’m usually the last to know, so I went directly to the source for the answer. The rumor? The town was considering the sale of the Colchester Historical Society Parsonage House on Main Street. The source? Town Manager Dawn Francis, who said the following: “The Historical Society has a lease for the parsonage until 2049. The society has invested a lot of money, time and sweat into the building. State grants were also received for the building, therefore, any decision on its future use would involve significant discussions with this group to determine their needs and their opinion about the building.” Francis went on to say that no decisions have been made to date on any of the facilities on the Village Green (the area that includes the United Church of Colchester, the Burnham Memorial Library, the Town Meeting House and the Colchester Historical Society parsonage on Main Street).
A Facilities Needs Assessment was completed last summer identifying repairs that are needed to the town’s buildings and offered some future use options. “We will be revisiting the various options this spring,” she said, “but at this point we are simply evaluating operational costs for all of our buildings and the repairs that will be necessary over the next five years as part of our capital budget and planning process as well as the town’s overall efforts to contain costs.” She added that staff members have been asked to brainstorm on the options so the selectboard can be provided with some ideas for consideration.
No doubt the rumor started as a result of the town’s resolve to look carefully at everything that uses taxpayers’ dollars. As Francis says, “buildings like the Town Meeting House (built in 1861 as a Baptist Church) and the parsonage (about the same time) are not cheap to maintain.” But she adds, “we also understand their importance to the character and aesthetics of the area.” Those of us who value the town’s history would agree.
So, have you heard any rumors about something going on in town? While I may be the last to know, I usually know who might be the first, so I would be happy to check it out for you. Give me a jingle at 658-4776 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Before leaving this subject, if you have heard that the library might be looking to expand … Francis says they are embarking on a strategic planning process to this end so look for more info on that campaign in the near future.
On May 1, Friday, the Colchester Community Chorus will celebrate its 30th Anniversary with a concert at the high school, beginning at 7:30 p.m. It should be an outstanding evening of musical selections from past concerts along with new pieces chosen just for this performance. Joining in will be Camille Brubaker who was the chorus’ first accompanist. Traveling here from Ohio with her husband David, she will join the CCC current and long-time accompanist Frank Whitcomb and a variety of musicians on tap for the evening’s performance.
Just a bit of history on the chorus – it was started by Carol Reichard, who remains its conductor to this day. Their inaugural concert was singing for the dedication of the Minna Coates Bandstand in Bayside Park in 1985. Over 30 years, the chorus has performed in Randolph for the 60th Anniversary of the Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker; in Montpelier at Farmers’ Night in the House chamber of the Vermont Legislature; in England in Salisbury Cathedral, St. Martin-in-the Fields and in our sister city of Colchester, England. The group annually performs two local concerts (May and December), participates in the July Fourth Fair Day Parade, and other special events such as the 250th Charter Day celebration and Christmas tree lightings. The concert is free with donations accepted at the door. You will not want to miss this special event entitled, “Here, There and Everywhere.”
Having been entertained, refreshed and rejuvenated by this lovely concert, you will want to next participate in Green Up Day taking place the very next day on May 2, from 8 a.m. until noon. A cookout of hot dogs, chips, homemade cookies and beverages for volunteers will finish off the event at the police department building on Blakely Road. Families, neighbors, and anyone interested in being of service in cleaning up the roadsides of our community are invited to just show up that morning for a road assignment and Green Up bags. Large groups should contact Tim Moran, Green Up Day coordinator, in advance so the committee can “save” areas for the group to clean up. His number is 862-9807 or check out email@example.com . To help get you psyched up, last year Colchester volunteers picked up 5.5 tons of roadside litter — the highest tonnage for all towns in Chittenden County. YES, we’re No. 1, let’s do it again! Incidentally, they also recycled 233 tires! It’s really a wonderful service for the town and feels so good once you’re done.
After all the trash and yuk is removed from our roadsides, Conservation Commission members will begin planting flower beds around town. According to CCC member Pam Loranger, last year more than 1,200 colorful flowers were planted — at Bayside Park, at the flagpole bed by Bayview Eats, in front of the Bayside Activity Center and in the traffic islands at the intersection of Blakely Road and Malletts Bay Avenue. The more money they receive in donations for the flowers and their maintenance, the more places they will be able to cover with plants. So, send your donation (any and all amounts are appreciated) to the Colchester-Milton Rotary Charitable Fund (Colchester Blooms on the memo line), 162 Jimmo Drive, Suite 2, Colchester, VT 05446. Donations are tax-deductible.
Admit it – passing Bayside Park in the summer with its array of lively, brightly-colored flowers along the roadside fence, makes you smile. Come on, you know it does. Here’s my thought, maybe CCDC can challenge the business community to be as creative in their landscaping and add color to their entry ways, or around their signs or in window boxes. Perhaps there could be a “Best Summer Floral Design” or a “That-a-Boy” – oops – “That-a-Person” award, to encourage pride in our community. We could challenge other communities in Chittenden County, in Vermont, in the Northeast, in the .. . . but, I digress. Send your check today!
Walking through the Town Office on Blakely Road, I picked up a publication you might want to have on hand. Prepared by Economic Develoment Director Kathi Walker O’Reilly the free booklet, entitled “Colchester: the Heart of Lake Champlain,” provides town statistics, history, a services directory, schools, parks, bike path, sports/fitness, entertainment, medical stuff, organizations, churches, pet info, restaurants, real estate, an events calendar, and lots more. If you know of a business interested in relocating to this area, or friends or relatives looking for a vacation spot, this is a perfect introduction to our town.
Send me your news – firstname.lastname@example.org. “The sun will come out tomorrow” . . . or maybe Sunday. For now, enjoy the grass greening up with every drop of rain. God bless!