PLAINFIELD – Local officials have decided to take out a loan to help pay for the town’s share of the pedestrian bridge project.

The plan is to install sidewalk on a small portion of Mill Street in the village where it connects with Main Street and continues up to the bridge that crosses the Winooski River. Officials said this plan will make walking in that part of town easier and safer.

The project would widen the concrete bridge so that a 5-foot-wide walkway can be installed there.

Earlier this month, the Select Board accepted the $649,790 bid from construction company Neil H. Daniels Inc., of Ascutney, for the project with the hopes of having it completed this summer.

The town has $921,700 in funding available for the project, which includes design and construction. That includes $741,604 in federal dollars, $35,056 from the state and the town would have to pay $147,930 in matching funds for the grants. The town’s share includes $2,890 in outstanding non-refundable invoices.

The town has paid $21,083 for the design of the project, which will not be refunded. So the board needed to come up with another $126,847 to match the grant funds.

How the town would pay its share was a topic of discussion at the board’s regular meeting Monday.

Town Clerk Linda Wells said the town has $61,075 remaining in the Arch Batchelder Fund, a fund which the town has been using to help pay for the project. Wells said the town may have to bond for the remaining funds because there are no other funds to draw from and there is no money in the town’s budget for it.

If the town wanted to take out a loan for the remaining $65,772, Wells said it wouldn’t have to get that amount approved by residents if the money is paid back within five years.

“If you go over five years, you would have to put it before the voters,” she said.

There was discussion about using the town’s revolving loan fund to pay for the project, but Wells said she believed that loan amount is capped at $20,000. Board chairwoman Sasha Thayer didn’t think it would be a good idea to exhaust the revolving loan fund because that money may be needed elsewhere.

Board member Tammy Farnham said if the board was comfortable going with a five-year loan, money would need to be added into the budget residents will vote on in April. The town has moved its annual vote from Town Meeting Day next week to April 6 to help accommodate Twinfield Union School’s budget process which school officials said was delayed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In the end, the board told Wells to add $15,000 to the town’s budget which would cover a fifth of the cost of the loan, plus some additional funds for the anticipated interest. The last step remaining is securing that loan from a bank or another financial institution.

Wells said she would look into financing options.

eric.blaisdell

@timesargus.com

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