Proctor preps for Town Meeting
BY ANGELO LYNN
PROCTOR — In addition to planning for the annual Town Meeting, Feb. 28-March 1, the Proctor selectboard heard an update on plans to revitalize the former Marble Museum complex at 52 Main Street by Zion Growers, which would operate an industrial hemp processing facility.
Zion Growers has been working with CEDRR and the Vermont Community Development Specialists to work through all the details that will be needed to cement a potential deal. The last time The Reporter followed up on this development, the project seemed like a possibility. Two months later, Town Manager Michael Ramsey said, it seems more like a “probability.”
“Things are moving along pretty consistently, ” Ramsey said in an interview after Monday’s meeting. “They seem eager to make things happen with that building,” he said, adding that they are working with the state, county and town authorities to tap into the appropriate aid and figure out the best way to move the project forward.
“At this point,” Ramsey said, “we have begun exploring what type of support the town can provide to Zion, and any other businesses interested in purchasing and/or operating inside of 52 Main. It helps that Zion Growers will not only provide jobs to the area, but that many of these jobs will be available to the Low to Middle income (LMI) community.”
The end game, Ramsey recalled, would be for Zion Growers to purchase the property from the Preservation Trust of Vermont and to lease out, or sell, the parts of the enormous building they won’t use for themselves. The Marble Museum would remain in the building. Zion Growers would use the space to convert hemp into a wood-like material similar to woodchips, which would be used to create luxury animal bedding and various types of construction materials.
While Ramsey said things are moving forward quickly, big projects like this take time, which means it could still be a year or two down the road before a production facility is up and running, if the sale is completed. If the sale does go forward, Ramsey said his conversations with the company indicate they could initially hire about 30 people. While that number is speculative at this point, it gives the town some idea of the positive impact Zion Growers could have on the community.
The selectboard also:
• Reviewed plans to hold the informational meeting before Town Meeting Day on Monday, Feb. 28 remotely via Zoom. Mail-in ballots are available to citizens or people can cast their ballots as usual at the high school on Town Meeting Day, March 1. The Town Report was mailed to citizens last week.
• Reviewed details of the Fishing Derby at Beaver Pond, which is set for Feb. 26.
• Noted that applicants for the Mortimer Proctor fund will be making presentations to that board of trustees in the near future. The town has a couple requests including funding for building a playground and park near the ice hockey rink.
• Reported that they are applying for a Class II highway grant to pave a mile of West Street. The grant maximum is $200,000, which the town will apply for, with the town’s match at 20%. The town has applied for this grant in the past and has not been chosen, as it’s a very competitive grant with a finite amount of state money.
• Learned that the use of ARPA funding for small towns has been expanded so that “Proctor can allocate ARPA funds with a little more discretion. We will rely on the RRPC to guide us along as we work through the process,” Ramsey said.
• Okayed a facility use agreement for the skating rink to allow Otter Valley High School and Proctor High School to uses the rink for a P.E. field trip.
• Supported a waste management grant to help the RCSWD purchase a new loader.
• And under, “good stuff,” received many positive comments on how well the town crews moved snow off the roads following last week’s 14-inch snowstorm.