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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site

Strategic Planning Study

Funded by: Bellows Falls Historical Society Marlboro College Center for Creative Solutions National Endowment for the Arts Preservation Trust of Vermont Town of Rockingham TransCanada Vermont Division for Historic Preservation Certified Local Government Program Windham Foundation

Michael Singer Studio Wilmington , Vermont March 12, 2009 Page 1


Acknowledgements:

The Michael Singer Studio team would like to acknowledge the cooperation, support, and assistance of all parties that participated in this project:

Bellows Falls Downtown Development Alliance Bellows Falls Historical Society Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation Greater Falls Chambers of Commerce National Park Service Rockingham Arts and Museum Project The Town of Rockingham VerMed Village of Bellows Falls

And a special thanks to Susan McMahon and the Windham Regional Commission who facilitated this project

The Michael Singer Studio team includes: Michael Singer Charlie Cannon Jason Bregman Jonathan Fogelson Sybil Idelkope Isaac Lawrence, Marlboro College

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Table of Contents:

Page 4

Executive Summary

Page 6 Page 8 Page 10 Page 12 Page 20

Existing Conditions Context Plan Area Landuse Site Plan Site Recent Site History

Page 22 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25

Findings Observations about Current Conditions Concerns Unique Characteristics of the Site Potential Visions for the Site Conclusions

Page 26 Page 28 Page 32 Page 36 Page 40 Page 44

Suggested Scenarios Environmental Opportunities No Build Low Build Medium Build High Build A Kit of Parts

Page 46

Recommendations

Page 47

References

Page 49

Addenda

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Executive Summary:

Beginning in the summer of 2008, Michael Singer Studio conducted an extensive planning study and community visioning process for the Town of Rockingham and the Bellows Falls Historical Society. The study focused on the four remaining buildings of the TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site and the immediate surrounding land. This strategic planning study, while focused on a specific site, expanded its view to consider adjacent areas and their interconnectedness to the site and community. The study incorporates input from a wide range of civic and government sources, local businesses, non-profits, and the general public. Statements from participants are presented as quotes throughout this document. The majority of participants recognize this site as currently isolated and abandoned, but as an important future resource to the community; a source of its history; a place of potential innovation reflecting the resourcefulness of Bellows Falls; a legacy that should not be lost; and a collection of historic buildings in need of care. The Bellows Falls Historical Society’s recent success in obtaining some of the funding necessary to turn a large portion of their riverfront property into a public parkland with informational trails presents a new beginning and an important link between historic downtown Bellows Falls and the Connecticut River waterfront. Soon, this area of the village will no longer be out of sight and out of mind. All participants recognized the advantages of “adaptive reuse� as the guiding principle for any development at the site. Making use of the existing structures at the site will have to take energy savings, water conservation, as well as recycled, healthy, and locally sourced materials and builders into consideration. Learning about the capacity for geothermal energy in this area will be important to understanding the economic incentives and environmental opportunities that will help in the next phase of decision-making. A former industrial site, the TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site has gone through much water and soil contamination testing and remediation, and currently stands ready for redevelopment, requiring only final use-specific corrective measures.

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


What were the ideas put forth in discussions about this place in the past? How do they relate to contemporary needs? And what are the compelling, creative, and feasible visions of today? This report graphically describes several scenarios, programs, and opportunities for interconnected and interactive uses between the TLR Complex, the Bellows Falls Historical Society property, neighboring areas, and the community. The report presents four scenarios from “no build” to “high build” and a wide variety of environmental opportunities. Each scenario consists of programs that demonstrate different directions with different ramifications. A partnership with the Town to provide incentives for private development is key to any development of the TLR Complex and Bellows Falls Historical Society site. At this time it is unrealistic to imagine the Town as sole developer of the site, or to expect the Bellows Falls Historical Society to raise the substantial capital for new buildings and operations. Any potential development should be required to demonstrate public benefit in the programs and spaces it makes available for public use, as well as contributing to the environmental health of the community. Cooperative ventures combining an array of interests like local artisans, health professionals, innovative technologies, and agricultural and food processing should be encouraged. The historical significance of the site and its relevance to local, regional, and indeed our national legacy must be respected. The existing buildings must be stabilized and secured. Many project participants realize that this site is a community responsibility and treasure that needs immediate attention if only to maintain its status quo. If left to deteriorate these buildings could be lost within a few short years. It is encouraging that the Town and Bellows Falls Historical Society have secured grants related to Brownfield cleanup and redevelopment. The contents of this report are meant to provide an understanding of the site’s conditions, its importance and opportunities, and to be the basis for initiating further community responses and discussions about this area’s potential for the future. Pages 46-47 of this report include recommended actions and relevant precedents and sources. The Michael Singer team encourages the Town of Rockingham, The Village of Bellows Falls, the Bellows Falls Historical Society, and all stakeholders to consider acting upon and further studying these recommendations.

Executive Summary

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Existing Conditions: Context Plan

The site is made up of two parcels: one owned by the Bellows Falls Historical Society and the other by the Town of Rockingham. These parcels are bound by the rail line below the steep incline to Westminster Street to the West and the Connecticut River to the East. A single road - Mill Street - connects the site to “The Square” in downtown Bellows Falls. The hydroelectric power facility owned and operated by TransCanada is at the Northeast corner of the site. The Bellows Falls wastewater treatment facility is located just to the south of the site. The majority of the site lies in the floodplain of the Connecticut River, approximately 30-40 feet below the Square. Mill Street runs south (and down) from the Square, crossing the train tracks and continuing along the Western side of the site to the wastewater treatment facility. While the study area is confined to the four structures at the Northern end of this area, this report addresses an extended site which includes both the town owned land and the riverfront parcel owned by the Bellows Falls Historical Society.

Building Footprints

“This site plays an important role in the rebirth and renaissance of Bellows Falls and it becomes a place for all, young and old. It serves to make us proud of who we are, a mill town with a great history that people can be proud of. ”

Clear Area / Ruins Wall / Retaining Wall Unpaved Road Edge Vegetation / Tree Line Fence Water 100 Year Floodplain 500 Year Floodplain

Data Source: DXF Files and GIS Data provided by Windham Regional Commission

500Ft

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


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Existing Conditions: Area Landuse The downtown area of Bellows Falls is zoned as Central Business District while Westminster Street in areas South of the site is zoned for Central Business District Expansion. The site itself is zoned for industrial uses. Zoning Definitions: Residential 7

One and two family residences at a maximum density of 1 unit per 2,500 Square Feet of lot area (17 units per Acre). Residential 14

One family homes at a maximum density of 1 unit per 7,260 Square Feet of lot area (6 units per Acre). Central Business 7

Permitted uses include: schools, community centers and clubs, retail stores, motel/hotels, indoor recreation, parking facilities, business offices, financial institutions, and personal services. Conditional uses include: apartment buildings, religious institutions, public/municipal facilities, restaurants and bars, and certain types of wireless telecommunication facilities. Central Business Expansion 14

Permitted uses identical to those in Central Business 7. Conditional uses include those in Central Business 7 as well as: gas stations (and gas stations with convenience stores), auto repair shops, boarding houses, group, residential, and community care homes, nursing care facilities, hospices, and childcare. Dimensional regulations include: a minimum front yard 20 Feet deep, 20 Foot minimum side yards, rear yards of at least 30 Feet, and maximum lot coverage of 25%. The maximum building height permitted for all Residential and Central Business uses is 35 Feet Industrial 14

Permitted uses include: gas station, enclosed manufacturing, storage, business offices, public and municipal facilities, and auto repair. Conditional uses include: general commercial and industrial uses, motor vehicle sales, gas stations with convenience stores, family care, and certain types of wireless telecommunication facilities. Building Footprints Property Line Road Edge

“This site is an important piece of understanding our puzzle as a whole village.�

Zoning: Industrial 14 Zoning: Central Business 7 Zoning: Central Business Expansion Zoning: Residential 7 or 14 Data Source: GIS Datasets provided by Windham Regional Commission 500Ft

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Water 100 Year Floodplain 500 Year Floodplain

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Study Area: Town and Historical Society Properties

Existing Conditions: Area Landuse

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The core area of the site is comprised of 4 structures and their immediately associated lands: The Carpenter Building and TLR Building owned by the Town of Rockingham; and the Wyman Flint Mill and Adam’s Grist Mill both owned by the Bellows Falls Historical Society. The Adam’s Grist Mill is home to the Bellows Falls Historical Society’s museum. The other three structures are currently vacant. The Carpenter Building (also known as Russell Building) is three stories tall 2,400 square feet per floor. The TLR Building (also known as Moore Building) houses two floors of 2,300 square feet each. Wyman Flint Mill (also known as Penta or PG&E Building) is comprised of a three story (two above ground and a basement level) 10,000 square foot front section which has collapsed and a ground floor 5,000 square foot back section which is still intact. Adam’s Grist Mill has three levels totaling 6,200 square feet. Typically, “TLR” or “TLR Complex” refers to the land and structures owned by the town, while “BFHS” refers to the property owned by the Bellows Falls Historical Society. The open space between the four buildings once housed an assortment of industrial structures that have recently been removed. The Bellows Falls Historical Society is working on a plan to stabilize and conserve the remnants of the collapsed front section of the Wyman Flint Mill as an open air interpretive 350 exhibit. The proposed exhibit would showcase the remains of an 1880’s steam boiler, a water turbine, and the original mill power waterways. A fence along the Wyman Flint Mill divides the property from the hydroelectric power facility owned and operated by TransCanada. An electric substation operated by National Grid is located southeast of the Wyman Flint Mill. A National Grid transmission line runs from the substation across the site before turning South toward the wastewater treatment facility. The transmission line lies within a 100 foot easement. Two roads cross the site: Mill Street provides the only public access onto the site, connecting the Square and the wastewater treatment facility. A smaller service road runs from Mill Street along the Northern boundary of the site to the hydroelectric power generation facility. North of the service road a steep slope climbs approximately 30 feet to the back of the Howard Block and the US Post Office Building. The vacant Meatland Building commands a view of the site from Westminster Street.

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Building Footprints Clear Area / Ruins

“This is a unique place, a treasure, our industrial heritage, and archeology. It is a tourist draw.”

Wall / Retaining Wall Unpaved Road Edge Vegetation / Tree Line Fence Water 100 Year Floodplain 500 Year Floodplain Data Source: DXF Files and GIS Data provided by Windham Regional Commission 100Ft

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Existing Conditions: Site Plan

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Existing Conditions: Site

Difficult access to the site is further limited by the awkward four-way intersection of Mill Street, Westminster Street, Bridge Street, and the Square.

“The buildings have got to stay. I would hate to see the buildings torn down. It would be an injustice to take those buildings down.�

The vehicular entry point at the intersection of Westminster Street, Bridge Street, and the Square

View down Mill Street from intersection

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Rail tunnel at Mill Street crossing

View across the rail line crossing towards the site

“I have a nightmare that if we don’t do anything those buildings will become a mini-storage facility!”

The Adam’s Grist Mill from Mill Street

Existing Conditions: Site

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Site Panoramic View

The core of the site is a collection of mill buildings and their associated land. The area between the buildings, once occupied by other structures, has been cleared creating an open space above the floodplain that slopes South towards the Connecticut River.

Adam’s Grist Mill

TLR Building

Carpenter Building

Back side of Howard Block

In the Foreground: Previously Built-Out Area - now Fenced in and Overgrown

View towards the river between TLR Building and Adam’s Grist Mill

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View of the collapsed portion of the Wyman Flint Mill, from the service road

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Wyman Flint Mill Collapsed Area

Wyman Flint Mill

View South down Mill Street (towards the Waste Water Treatment Facility)

Existing Conditions: Site

Entrance to Hydroelectric Facility Area

Electric Substation

View of Cold Spring Pond (thought to be a geothermal spring)

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“The area is isolated from the town. How are you going to get people into the site, to know it’s there?”

View East down the service road towards the hydroelectric generation facility. Collapsed North end of Wyman Flint Mill shown on right. Old coal shoot shown on left

Disused coal shoot from the back side of Howard Block. Coal used to be delivered and dropped here for the buildings below

Disused coal shoot on North side of service road

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Remnants of a pedestrian bridge that connected the TLR Building with a structure along the rail line. Another bridge used to connect the top level of the Carpenter Building to the back side of the Howard Block, offering easy pedestrian access to the site

View from back side of Howard Block (likely location for the previously existing pedestrian bridge bulkhead) to Carpenter Building

A line maintenance garage owned by TransCanada and used by National Grid, under an operating agreement, on the North side of service road by the power generation facility’s entrance

Existing Conditions: Site

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“... fish ladders ... are structures on or around artificial barriers (such as dams...) to facilitate diadromous fishes’ natural migration. Most fishways enable fish to pass around the barriers by swimming and leaping up a series of relatively low steps (hence the term ladder) into the waters on the other side. The velocity of water falling over the steps has to be great enough to attract the fish to the ladder, but it cannot be so great that it washes fish back downstream or exhausts them to the point of inability to continue their journey upriver.”

Entrance to TransCanada Visitors’ Center at Bridge Street

From Wikipedia Online at http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_ladder

View of Fish ladder from below. The Fish ladder is located on the TransCanada site, directly to the West of the generation turbine building

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


TransCanada’s generation turbine building (view from the gate at the end of the service road on site)

Interior of Wyman Flint Mill

Existing Conditions: Site

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Existing Conditions: Recent Site History Historic records show that the properties, under various ownerships and leasing arrangements, were used for paper manufacturing for many years. In 1993 the Town of Rockingham and Bellows Falls Village Corporation involuntary acquired the TLR site as the result of a tax foreclosure. Since then, the Village relinquished its ownership of the property to the Town of Rockingham. In March 2005, Bellows Falls Historical Society took title of the historic Frank Adams Grist Mill, the Wyman Flint Mill and a related parcel of land of approximately 8.6 acres adjacent to the Connecticut River. In 2007, the Bellows Falls Historical Society began receiving technical assistance from the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Assistance program on open space, trails, and greenways development for the site. Environmental Assessments

In 1991 there was a release of No. 6 fuel oil on the property which flowed across the Bellows Falls Historical Society property to the Connecticut River. In 1993, the Town began environmental testing at the site, cleaned and closed in place an underground storage tank, and conducted other clean up activities. Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation determined that the site investigation and cleanup relating to the fuel oil spill was complete and issued a Site Management Activity Completed letter for the TLR site in 1995. Due to the TLR and the surrounding property’s industrial heritage the Town and the Bellows Falls Historical Society has been working diligently since 2001 with the Windham Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to environmentally assess the sites. Below is a summary of site assessment activity to date: Year

Site

Results

Status / Notes

2001

TLR

Semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), metals, total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), and pesticides identified in the soil Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metals identified in groundwater Lead-based paint and asbestos containing materials were identified in the TLR building

In 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 removed asbestos and hazardous materials from the TLR building.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), arsenic, iron, and lead were detected in the soil at concentrations that exceed the Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs). Residual No.6 oil was found in the soil as well Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that exceed their respective Preventive Action Limits (PALs) were detected in the groundwater. Metals, including iron and lead, were reported in groundwater at elevated levels that exceed both their respective enforcement standards Chlorinated solvents (1.1-dichloroethene, trichloroethylene [TCE], and perchloroethylene [PCE]) were detected in the surface water of Cold Spring Pond at levels that exceeded their respective Preventive Action Limits (PALs) Asbestos identified at the Wyman Flint building. Lead paint was detected on Wyman Flint and the Grist Mill

The result of the Phase II testing indicated that contamination was present and needed to be further investigated to determine risk.

Testing completed to provide information to support limited reuse of the site as a paved, non-motorized, multi-use path with associated parking and trailhead area.

• •

2004

TLR / Bellows Falls Historical Society

2007 & 2008

Bellows Falls Historical Society (between the Connecticut River and Mill Street)

The presence of dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals in surficial soils at concentration levels in excess of Residential Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs) confirmed.

2008 & 2009

TLR

As of February 2009 VT DEC sees no need for further groundwater investigation.

2009

Bellows Falls Historical Society

Has not begun

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Will include testing of vapors in the mound area and long potential Connecticut River beach.

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Clean up planning

In August 2008, based on environmental testing and risk assessment, a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) was developed for the Bellows Falls Historical Society site between the Connecticut River and Mill Street. The recommended remedial strategy is to use a combination of engineering and institutional controls: limited asphalt capping of the proposed recreation path and parking, signage, and Notice to the Town of Rockingham land use records. It will cost approximately $438,000 to implement the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) for the Bellows Falls Historical Society site. Next Steps

To implement the reuse plan for the segment between the Connecticut River and Mill Street, funds will need to be raised by the Bellows Falls Historical Society. In November 2008, Bellows Falls Historical Society applied for an Environmental Protection Agency $200,000 Cleanup Grant towards construction of the parking area, trail, and signage. Environmental Protection Agency Cleanup Grants will be announced in May 2009. Previously, Bellows Falls Historical Society received some funding (approximately $50,000) from the Southern Windsor County Regional Commission Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund. The Bellows Falls Historical Society, working with the National Park Service and Windham Regional Commission, intends to apply for additional grants for the remaining corrective action. Additional testing for the segment of the Bellows Falls Historical Society site West of Mill Street needs to occur before reuse planning for the remainder of the site can be finalized.

“Bellows Falls has a special history; the canal, papermaking, the Grist Mill. This is a place to learn about a special time in American history.”

A September 2008 partial phase II assessment for the TLR site made the following recommendations: • Vapor intrusion abatement system(s) should be installed on site prior to any of the buildings being used for human occupancy. • Prior to any soil excavation at the TLR site, surficial and planned excavation-depth soils should be sampled and analyzed for the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in order to determine whether any direct contact risks exist and abatement measures are needed. A Notice to Land Record should be entered requesting that Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation be notified prior to any intrusive work. Once reuse plans for the TLR portion of the site are finalized a Corrective Action Plan will need to be developed and implemented.

Site History text provided by Susan McMahon, Senior Planner, Windham Regional Commission

Existing Conditions: Recent Site History

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Findings: Community Meetings and Interviews

Observations:

“We need more green space in town.” “Whatever happens on the site should require sustainable practice for energy, water conservation, landscape.” “We have a need for senior housing and assisted living and it should be close to downtown.” “To realize progress on this site we need to have a commercial and non profit partnership working together to solve the problems at the site and support its future.” “We could think of it as Bellows Falls’ Central Park.” “Whatever this place becomes it should welcome all members of our community.”

The study incorporates input from a wide range of civic and government sources representing municipal bodies, non-profits, local business, and the general public. Interviews with both individuals and groups provided opportunities for ample feedback. Statements from participants were documented and are presented throughout this document as anonymous quotes. The following findings are a synthesis of these meetings and interviews.

Observations about Current Conditions There were a variety of concerns expressed about the cultural and economic vibrancy of Bellows Falls. Although the Opera House is drawing people to town for cultural events, there are not enough restaurants, bars or shops to keep visitors occupied at the conclusion of those events. The Historical Society has managed to keep its facility operating on a volunteer basis and on a shoestring budget. As a result, Adam’s Grist Mill Museum is only open part time, and its hours are not posted anywhere in the Square. Bellows Falls does not have enough green space within the downtown area, and there is little access to the riverfront or a good outdoor exercise path. However, currently the Historical Society is working with Windham Regional Commission and the National Parks Service to design and receive support for a trail system for a new park at the riverfront site. Although there are seven gas stations in Bellows Falls, the community is not served by a large supermarket - requiring residents to go to New Hampshire to buy groceries. Concerns Access & Visibility:

All participants raised concerns about access to the TLR site. Pedestrians and vehicles must navigate the steep slope of Mill Street. Entering the Square from Mill Street is a traffic hazard at certain times of the day. Any development of the TLR site must address this access problem. Rail America has rights of way through the property and has expressed safety concerns about the Mill Street crossing at the TLR site. Parking is considered a problem, many people suggested that if this site is developed the downtown will be even more congested and it will be difficult to accommodate parking needs. Another challenge is visibility of the site from the Square. Visitors to Bellows Falls can not see the Bellows Falls Historical Society’s Grist Mill or the TLR buildings from downtown. In part because of the lack of sight lines, many people view this area as isolated and dangerous - an abandoned place of dilapidated buildings.

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Environmental Issues:

The majority of the Historical Society property is located in the Connecticut River floodplain. The river level can rise as much as two feet with short warnings. The shoreline is not an appropriate place for a marina because the water is too shallow along this area of the river. Transmission lines run through the site - creating an audible hum. The wastewater treatment facility is located at the southern end of the property and occasionally releases noxious aromas. Financing:

There is a concern that the Town of Rockingham and Village of Bellows Falls do not have sufficient funds to support programs at the site. As evidence, interviewees pointed out that the town is having trouble raising money for a multigenerational recreational facility and pool. Over the summer of 2008 there were quite a number of vacant offices in the downtown, raising concerns over whether Bellows Falls could support more commercial space. Similarly, there are not enough artists and artisans to occupy empty loft and work spaces. On the other hand, it was pointed out that “start-up office” space is needed and that most of the available space downtown is not suitable or ready for such uses. Unique Characteristics of the Site The TLR and the Historical Society properties are “undiscovered”. The site provides open space near the center of the downtown and is an important site in the history of Bellows Falls. Even with the canal, the papermaking industry, and the old grist mill - only a small percentage of the community has been to this site. Many respondents felt that the TLR buildings are beautiful examples of 19th Century industrial architecture. The structures remain sound and the buildings could be transformed to serve almost any program because of their open, flexible interior spaces. The special history of the site and its historic buildings may have preservation and restoration funding opportunities as well. The site, adjacent to the Connecticut River, is a place of complex geology, environmental diversity, and aesthetic beauty. Currently, there are plans to connect it to the Connecticut River Trail to Brattleboro. New programs on the site might be able to make use of the site’s excellent solar exposure. Cold Spring Pond requires further research to see if it is fed by a geothermal spring. There is also a need to further asses Cold Spring Pond for Contaminants.

Concerns:

“The Mill Street entryexit road is located in a very difficult spot regarding traffic flow.” “Don’t forget this area is in a flood plain and there will be limitations about what can be done there.” “If this isn’t a private venture, what can the town support and maintain?” “Don’t make the TLR site and buildings too fancy. We need to do the right amount of fix up to respect the grittiness of Bellows Falls.”

Significant work has already been done to improve the properties. The site has received federal Brownfield support and some clean-up from the Environmental Protection Agency, and there may be additional funds available for further mitigation and development. The TransCanada Power Company has been a presence in Bellows Falls, maintaining a visitors’ center by the fish ladder, and funding its educational programs. The previous power plant operator, U.S. Gen. New England, transferred some of its property to the Bellows Falls Historical Society in March 2005.

Findings

Page 23


Potential Visions for the Site Open Space:

Unique:

“Bellows Falls is a place where things happen organically, ideas grow and partners come into the process to realize projects. It takes time to make things happen here.” “This is a miracle setting just yards from the downtown and its up to us to make it accessible.”

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All interviewees agreed that the TLR and Bellows Falls Historical Society properties need to be accessible and welcoming to all members of the community and should not be allowed to deteriorate further. However, beyond this consensus, there are many competing visions for the area. The most basic vision is clearing the TLR property of debris, stabilizing the buildings, and planting to provide open green space. The Historical Society’s plans for trails at the site would inform visitors about the rich history of the area, and provide a multi-generational exercise circuit. These basic actions, with signage on Bridge Street, will transform the area into a safer and more accessible site. Bellows Falls has an active group of community gardeners and garden plots located behind the town’s public works facility. Moving these gardens to a more central and permanent location is desirable. The South facing study area could be a good location for raised bed gardens, and the site’s buildings could provide opportunities for a farmer’s market offering both outdoor and indoor spaces. Arts & Crafts Work Spaces:

Artists and the “Creative Economy” have been a focus for renewal in Bellows Falls. Some interviewees suggested an expanded definition of Creative Economy to include other small-scale entrepreneurs working in regional food and craft industries. The TLR buildings have the capacity to be used for papermaking, woodworking, printmaking, photography, film, sculpture, textile arts, ceramics, food preparation, etc. The open spaces of the TLR buildings could be configured for special workshops. Such workshops could also provide educational and vocational training programs for the local schools and surrounding community, as well as a platform for collaboration with businesses and educational institutions. Conference Center:

The Grafton Museum of Natural History operates a visitor’s center by the Fish Ladder at the TransCanada hydroelectric power plant and provides walking tours of the riverfront to explore the unique geology and habitat of the area. The Museum currently rents spaces for lodging and meeting rooms for its national teacher training sessions, and sees potential in the TLR buildings for these sessions. There are also several successful national and international businesses with headquarters located in Rockingham. These businesses would appreciate a downtown venue for visitors’ lodging and meeting rooms. Obviously, such accommodations would be resources for other organizations and businesses in the region as well.

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Vision: Clean Technologies:

The TLR buildings and site could be home to new businesses engaged in the development, design, and fabrication of environmentally responsible products. The open space to the East of the buildings provides opportunities for building new structures if more manufacturing and office space is needed.

“This becomes a place of economic stimulus, an incubator for business that betters the town and village.”

Urban Agriculture:

As locally grown products have entered a popular place in the markets, urban agriculture and in-town food processing is becoming an important industry throughout the country. All-season growing of organic produce using greenhouses and hydroponic production is being practiced throughout Vermont. If geothermal springs are confirmed at the site, the energy cost savings could support a viable in-town agricultural facility. This type of facility along with a processing kitchen at the TLR site could be operated as a cooperative venture by a consortium of established and new farming operation. Despite complications associated with soil and water contamination, safe on-site agriculture is possible. Assisted Living:

Regional social service organizations have expressed interest in having an intown site for an assisted living facility in Bellows Falls. A facility on Westminster Street would provide ready access to the social, cultural, mobility, and economic amenities of downtown living. A few participants suggested that bridging over the rail line to the TLR buildings might make sense if the buildings were converted to a community healing center providing non-traditional healing, movement, and exercise therapies.

Conclusion: All participants agree that to realize any of these visions it is vital for the community to continue planning and defining clear guidelines for the future use of the buildings and site. Public-private partnerships are essential for the development, programming, and maintenance of the site. Participants noted that any development should be based on environmental and economic sustainability principles, following the best practices of water and energy conservation. Everyone agreed that any development at the site has to provide public access to the river and include public programs that guarantee its use.

Findings

“Use part of the parkland as an arboretum for trees and plants on the endangered species list, elms, butternuts.” “The site offers the potential of merging old and new technologies.” “A multi-use property that includes tourist trade, museum, recreation, education.” “These buildings contain valuable embodied energy, and the best sustainable practice is to use existing buildings rather than building new.”

Page 25


Suggested Scenarios: Environmental Opportunities Among the unique qualities of this site are the possibilities of using neighboring infrastructures as cost effective resources for different scenarios.

Hydroelectric Power Generation Facility The adjacent hydroelectric facility may produce a significant amount of waste heat that could be harnessed as a heat resource for buildings and greenhouses. An initial conversation with TransCanada’s Community Outreach Representative indicated that the facility is currently utilizing this waste heat and he did not see an opportunity for sharing this potential resource. Given the proximity of the resource and its significant potential it is suggested that this opportunity be further explored with TransCanada for possible future interconnection. Geothermal Energy Several indicators, such as the existing heat wells in downtown Bellows Falls and the non-freezing Cold Spring Pond suggest there may be geothermal resources on site. Should geothermal be available it may augment heating and cooling for structures on site, as well as four season agricultural activities. Further investigation is warranted when funding becomes available. Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) The WWTF may be capable of providing different inputs: A. Waste Heat: waste heat from the activities at the WWTF could be harnessed

and transported to the site along the existing Mill Street utility corridor. The heat could serve buildings, agricultural activities, and potentially be used to keep Mill Street free of snow and ice. If the heat cannot be transported effectively, it could be used at a closer location such as a greenhouse directly to the North of the WWTF (above the floodplain). Bellows Falls Historical Society indicated their interest in having a native plant species nursery incorporated into their “Legacy Park� (see Bellows Falls Historical Society vision in the Addenda). B. Energy from Methane and Other Sustainable Sources: Methane is created at

the facility and is currently used as an energy source in the winter but not during summer months. In the fall of 2008 a proposal was put forth by a private group to generate energy from this methane source along with a micro-hydro turbine at the outfall of the treated water. Their proposal also included active solar Photovoltaic and passive solar systems. Additionally, plans to expand the intake of septage at the WWTF could increase energy and heat output - making it possible to produce more energy for the WWTF or adjacent uses. C. Treated Waste Water: Currently water is treated to a secondary level at the

WWTF and then released in to the Connecticut River. This water could be tapped as a resource for a non-edible plant nursery and would therefore help reduce potable water consumption and reduce overall nutrient load in the river. D. Organic Solids: Currently the biosolids from the WWTF are transferred by

truck to Claremont, New Hampshire for composting at a cost of $55 per cubic yard. In Claremont the waste is composted and then sold as fertilizer (typically for livestock feed). The WWTF produces about 3 trucks, or 36 cubic yards of biosolids a month (approximately $24,000 a year). Composting the biosolids on site would save these fees and provide a free resource suitable for non-edible plantings for use on site or sale. Page 26

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


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On Site Composting of Organic Matter from In-Town Sources Food waste and yard waste composting from in-town sources could be established on site and dovetail with the WWTF and/or agricultural operations. This could provide nutrient rich soil for agricultural activities as well as waste heat that can be used to passively heat greenhouses.

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Greenhouse

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Stormwater Outflow The stormwater outflow directly North of the WWTF could be transformed into a constructed wetland to passively help clean water before discharging it into the River. This would increase the health of the waterway and contribute to the Bellows Falls Historical Society vision for the site. Stored stormwater could also be used for non-edible nursery and composting operations as an alternative to potable water.

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Given this potential, a clear case can be made for unique eco-industrial integrated programs. This approach uses the waste of one industry such as waste heat, energy, water, and organic matter, to support adjacent programs such as space heating and agricultural production. Proximity is the main factor for the feasibility of these systems. An engineering study should be conducted to determine what systems are the most cost-effective to utilize in the short and long-term planning of the site.

0

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NonFreezing Cold Spring Pond

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Integrated Systems and Educational Potential The site has the potential to be a unique educational model for sustainable development. The combination of green technologies, Brownfield redevelopment, ecosystem and parkland regeneration, urban agriculture, reuse of waste, and adaptive reuse of historic buildings could combine as a walking tour within the park, highlighting the projects as they move forward over time.

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Suggested Scenarios: Environmental Opportunities

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No Build Scenario: Community Gardens During community interviews, participants expressed a desire for more community garden space. Existing community gardens, behind the Public Works Building at Playground Road, are constrained by limited space, a fence that has to be replaced annually, limited solar exposure, and difficulty with on-site water service.

“VISION: We envision inspired people joining together to actively replenish their environment, their community and themselves. We believe in the power of people to co-create harmony between land, water and all living things for generations to come

The study area presents an excellent in-town location for a raised bed community garden and farmers’ market. The construction costs for raised planting beds could be supplemented with sweat equity. This approach increases community awareness and activity with minimal initial investment. Drawing people to the site would have the added benefit of increasing the audience for the Bellows Falls Historical Society museum, cultural park, and proposed recreational amenities. Spaces in the existing structures could support related programs such as: indoor winter farmers market with storage, shared community kitchen facilities, flexible shared community spaces, low-cost commercial rentals, and other community agriculture ventures. Urban Agriculture reconnects town residents with where their food is grown. It shortens the distance food travels, reduces transportation costs, and increases the amount of green space in urban areas.

MISSION: Growing Gardens’ mission is to enrich the lives of Boulder County residents through environmentally sustainable gardening programs that empower people to experience a direct and deep connection with plants, the land and each other.” From the Growing Gardens Website at: http://www.growinggardens. org/english/about/mission.html

Existing community gardens in Bellows Falls Page 28

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Community Garden Scenario Perspective View: Gardens terraced to accommodate the elevation change. Existing vehicular access road to Wyman Flint Mill with parking bowed out to allow for greater greenspace. Setbacks from existing structures allow for public and service vehicle access

Existing Structures: Existing Area

Community Gardens: 22,000sqft

No Build Scenario: Community Gardens

Page 29


The Core of the Scenario

A. Raised bed agricultural plots, watered by on site water service and collected rainwater, constructed and operated as a community effort. Additional Program

The following complimentary programs can be accommodated on site in addition to the Community Garden Scenario: flexible community space, studio / workshop spaces, community kitchen, farmers market (indoor or outdoor), multi-generational physical activity, public open space, Bellows Falls Historical Society’s cultural amenities, nature trail, native species nursery, composting, connectivity to the greater Connecticut River Byway Existing Structures

“... on nearly three acres of asphalt that have been covered with 18 inches of topsoil, the Red Hook Community Farm operates in an economy that rises from the actual, not the imaginary: lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, collard greens, arugula, dandelion, radicchio, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, beets, radishes, squash, cucumber, zucchini, and beans and herbs - oregano, sage, thyme, mint, six different basils. And carrots,’ Narcisso said.”

Existing structures are of historic and cultural importance and should be stabilized and made habitable. Adaptive Reuse should be the guiding principal reintroducing activity into them. Renovations to the buildings should take into consideration design for energy savings, water conservation, recycled and healthy materials as well as local suppliers. Access

Access to the site remains as it is today. This scenario does not propose intensive use of the site and is not expected to create new peak traffic volume into the site. The existing parking area would be paved in this scenario. Precedents

Redhook Community Farm employs raised bed agriculture on post-industrial land. The farm is operated by youngsters, and is woven into an educational agenda. A local community of families and restaurants support this effort - buying produce and supplying food waste for composting.

Sweat Equity / J. Dwyer

Malcom Walker at the Red Hook Community Farm in Brooklyn. Photo by Michelle V. Agins for The New York Times. From New York Times, October 8, 2008 Sweat Equity Put to Use Within Sight of Wall St. By Jim Dwyer

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Precedents (continued)

City Farm is a sustainable and organic farm using large vacant properties in Chicago to grow vegetables and make compost. The farm produces fruits and vegetables that are sold to local restaurants and the public. In addition to growing fresh food, City Farm creates jobs. Ken Dunn, founder of the Center, notes, “We found that by planning and planting carefully, you can create a job for an individual on about 10,000 square feet, or about four lots.� In Chicago, that could mean 20,000 jobs to revitalize and farm 80,000 vacant lots across the city. Growing Gardens, a non-profit in Boulder, Colorado, manages 1,128 community gardeners on nine acres of land. The Community Garden Program supplies water, mulch, tools, compost and training. In exchange, gardeners pay a modest fee, maintain their sites, and agree to plant organically. Participants in the Community Garden Program use a variety of gardening techniques including permaculture, biodynamics, and traditional growing methods from Laos, Cambodia, and Mexico. Growing Gardens defines itself as a human services and youth development organization that uses sustainable gardening practices to assist immigrants, seniors, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, and families. Above: Watering a garden at Growing Gardens Below: Multi Generational activities at Growing Gardens Photos by Kevin Pierce

Above, Below, and to the Bottom-Right: City Farm Photos from the Resource Center, a Chicago Non-Profit

No Build Scenario: Community Gardens

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Low Build Scenario: Agricultural Center

The Low Build scenario develops creative revenue streams from agriculture and agriculture related activities. Heated greenhouses support a 12 month long growing season. The TLR and Carpenter Buildings provide space for agriculture related commercial or research activities. In the United States, our food travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate. Local food offers many benefits: cost, freshness, security, and the preservation of open land. But merely localizing food production does not guarantee efficient delivery or the profitability of small farms. Many small scale farmers frequently make less than ten cents on every dollar spent on their produce. Some part of the site could be the center for a distribution system that is helping to aggregate produce from small and/or organic farmers in the area. The center would require an office, small storage space, etc. This model does not collect or store food on site.

“If people can grow safe, healthy, affordable food, if they have access to land and clean water, this is transformative on every level in a community. I believe we cannot have healthy communities without a healthy food system.”

Public access to the site is provided through a terraced path behind the Howard Block (such a connection could submit to ADA requirements, potentially opening a wider variety of funding sources, but does require using land owned by multiple parties). The pathway provides a dynamic connection to the Bellows Falls Historical Society’s Adam’s Grist Mill and new trails through the riverfront park.

Will Allen, Growing Power CEO From the Growing Power Website: www.growingpower.org

A public path adjacent to greenhouses along the river within the city of Pamplona, Spain Page 32

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Agricultural Center Scenario Perspective View: Greenhouses arrayed in cleared area. Pedestrian terraced pathway leads from the backside of Howard Block downhill, alongside terraced community gardens, and continues towards the proposed riverfront park and trail system

Community Gardens along Switchback Path: 3,500sqft

Existing Structures: Existing Area

Greenhouse Agriculture: 15,000sqft

Low Build Scenario: Agricultural Center

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The Core of the Scenario

A. Greenhouses for year-round food production: heated by a combination of sources including electricity and gas, solar, biomass (from composting), and the potential of geothermal energy. B. Safe pedestrian connection to downtown: through a system of ramps surrounded by terraced gardens from the backside of Howard Block. Additional Program

The following complimentary programs can be accommodated on site in addition to the Agricultural Center Scenario: Community gardens, creative agriculture or agriculture related, industrial kitchen for food processing, flexible community space, office spaces, studio / workshop spaces, farmers market (indoor or outdoor), education / continuing education / teachers’ training, public open space, Bellows Falls Historical Society cultural amenities, nature trail, native species nursery, composting, technology research and laboratories, and connectivity to the greater Connecticut River Byway Existing Structures

Please see “Existing Structures” on page 30. Access

While vehicular access to the site remains as it is today, pedestrian access to the site is greatly enhanced. The fully accessible terraced switchback path encourages walkers to connect to the Bellows Falls Historical Society’s riverfront trails and beyond. Precedents From top: Downtown Hardwick, VT.; Kristina Michelsen of Claire’s Restaurant; Andrew Meyer of Vermont Soy; organic cabbage. Photos by Paul O. Boisvert for The New York Times. From New York Times, October 8, 2008 Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town By Marian Burros

Page 34

Hardwick, Vermont has added 75-100 jobs to the local economy in recent years. Most businesses revolve around locally grown and quality foods. Agricultural entrepreneurs share facilities, use each others’ services and products, and provide private lending to each other. Mutual support has increased the potential for external inputs and has attracted multiple investments and collaborations with the University of Vermont and non-profit organizations. Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin raises food year-round on their main farm which houses six greenhouses growing over 12,000 pots of herbs, salad mix, beet greens, arugula, mustards, seedlings, sunflower and radish sprouts. The greenhouses also host production of six hydroponic systems growing Tilapia, Perch, a variety of herb and salad greens, and over 50 bins of red wriggler worms. The 2 Acre farms also supports apiaries, hoop houses, livestock, and a small retail store. The farm is a model community food centers, providing highquality, safe, healthy, affordable food for all residents in the community. Growing Power helps develop Community Food Centers around the country through training, active demonstration, outreach, and technical assistance.

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Aquaponic system at Growing Power, photo by “ausradesigns”

Introductions at Growing Power training session, photo by “mjmonty”

Aquaponic system at Growing Power, photo by “ausradesigns”

Compost pile at Growing Power, photo by “ausradesigns”

Precedents (continued)

Beeline is a virtual marketplace and distribution system for fresh produce in the Pacific Northwest designed to support local farms by reducing the cost of transporting produce to retailers. An online system connects retailers and restaurateurs to growers. As orders are placed, Beeline automatically plans transportation routes with a robust Global Positioning System and radio-frequency identification to “pool” pickups and deliveries. The system saves individual farmers from having to deliver their own product. A version of Beeline is currently being tested in Portland, Oregon by Ecotrust’s Food Hub initiative. Not only does Beeline’s system save time and reduce driving miles, it also provides small farmers with greater access to the marketplaces that keep them in business. By aggregating products from a number of farms, Beeline helps small farms stay competitive without having to resort to single-crop monoculture. Tending to the aquaponic system, Julie Fishes @ Growing Power, photo by “readysubjects” All photos on this page found online at: http://www.flickr.com Low Build Scenario: Agricultural Center

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Medium Build Scenario: Meatland Development While not an integral part of this report’s study area, the Meatland Building is directly adjacent to the site. The property offers a potential pedestrian connection to the site, and a direct extension of the downtown. The Meatland site could provide needed private mixed income housing. A public atrium at Westminster Street could connect to a pedestrian bridge over the rail line and enter the top level of the Carpenter Building. This could provide several benefits, including: • Creating safe public access to the riverfront site and enhancing potential success of programs on the riverfront • Extending the downtown along Westminster Street Combining the Meatland parcel with the town owned parking lot directly to its North under a new three story structure could yield over 27,000 square feet of interior space in addition to a public access lobby / atrium, occupyable terraces with views of the Connecticut River, and 15 at grade parking spaces. Additional parking spaces could be accommodated if the town permits building a structure that is over 35 feet tall. Such a structure could provide in town mixed income housing in close proximity to services and amenities. At the time of writing this report, the Rockingham Westminster Elder Housing Advisory Committee expressed an interest in building a new facility within easy walking distance of downtown. The Meatland site could provide enough space for such a facility. The TLR site could house additional community amenities such as education and physical activity. Incorporating senior housing into the fabric of the community at such an immediate proximity to downtown creates a natural audience for multi-generation social and education programs.

Two examples of compact housing on steep linear sites in Northern Europe

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Meatland Development Scenario Perspective View: This scenario does not impact the site itself but rather the access to it, enabling the support of a wide variety of programs (including those discussed in other scenarios) New Meatland Building: 27,000sqft private area 3,000sqft public area (atrium and access to carpenter building) & 15 covered parking spaces at grade (along Westminster St) Existing Structures: Existing Area

Medium Build Scenario: Meatland Building Development

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The Core of the Scenario

A. Housing along Westminster Street. B. Public access from a pedestrian bridge to the top level of the Carpenter Building. C. The Carpenter Building can house recreational, health, and other multi-generation programs related to senior housing and open to the public. Additional Program

This scenario only provides access to the site, leaving it open to support any number of viable programs (including those outlined in the other scenarios). Existing Structures

Please see “Existing Structures� on page 30. Remnants of a pedestrian bridge connecting the TLR Building with a structure along the railway. A similar connection used to exist between the top level of the Carpenter Building and Howard Block

Access

This scenario emphasizes a pedestrian access point from Westminster Street Precedents

Historic pedestrian bridges were used to access this site in the past. Similar strategies are currently in use throughout the world. There are many available precedents for compact living on steep linear sites such as Meatland. Most of these tend to orient towards both sides of the site, and in this case, towards both Westminster Street and the Connecticut River. Precedents for the value of multi-generational educational, cultural, and physical activity programs are of great importance and warrant additional research. Being able to involve experienced and responsible members of the community in after-school, tutoring, and mentoring programs will benefit the community and individuals involved.

A pedestrian bridge linking the main street over a gorge to a park, Pamplona, Spain

A pedestrian bridge negotiating a steep elevation change in Brussels. Above: View of the top approach to the bridge. Below: View up towards the elevator to the bridge Page 38

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Site and Downtown Perspective View: Public access through a new building provides safe access to the site while stretching the downtown south along Westminster Street

Medium Build Scenario: Meatland Building Development

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High Build Scenario: Deck & Mixed Use Building

A multi-level parking structure at the back side of Howard Block (similarly to the parking garage in Brattleboro connecting Eliot and Flat Streets) was suggested during public meeting. On-site space limitations prevent this option from being an effective solution. However, an at-grade parking deck could be built behind the Howard Block, with a mixed use building below the deck. The deck could also provide public spaces overlooking the site, safe pedestrian access through the top floor of the Carpenter Building (similarly to the historic pedestrian bridge), and elevator access to the new mixed-use building and site below. Such a structure need not impair tractor-trailer access to the hydroelectric facility, and could provide equal space for the operations of a utility shed currently at this location.

The back side of Howard Block is currently used for parking

Such a large floor-plate building on site could allow for a variety of light industrial and commercial uses, including workshop, offices, laboratories, community spaces, and cultural amenities. In addition, the new building could support agricultural and related activities, and its footprint would not interfere with potential agricultural activities on site. This building would have to be sited on land parcels owned by multiple parties including the Bellows Falls Historical Society. Parking spaces provided as part of this structure could consolidate existing parking spaces that are scattered throughout downtown, freeing those sites and permitting them to become urban parks, playgrounds, and sites of future infill.

Cummins Engine Company Sub-Assembly Plant with rooftop parking Found on the Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates LLC website at: http://www.krjda.com/text/projectDetail.cfm?id=33 Page 40

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Deck and Mixed Use Building Perspective View: The new mixed use building can support commercial, educational, and community uses, while providing at-grade parking for the downtown. Public Access Pedestrian Deck and Bridge to Carpenter Building: 13,300sqft 45 Parking Spaces and 30,000sqft in the building underneath (including space for the displaced shed) Potential Greenhouse or Community Gardens: up to 35,000sqft

High Build Scenario: Parking Deck and Mixed Used Building

Page 41


The Core of the Scenario

Parking Areas Near Downtown Bellows Falls and Parking Spaces they Hold: Hetty Green Lot, School and Westminster Streets, 78 Legion Lot, Rockingham Street, 19 Newberry’s Lot, Rockingham Street, 14 Westminster Street Lot, 13 Bridge Street Lot, 61 Bicentennial Park, Depot Street, 82 Model Press Lot, Rockingham Street, 12 From the 2005 Rockingham Town Plan, pages 32-33

A. A mixed use structure whose roof serves as a parking deck, public space, and pedestrian access to the site. Additional Program

The following complimentary programs can be accommodated on site as part of this scenario: community gardens, creative agriculture or agriculture related, industrial kitchen, flexible community space, parking, office spaces, studio / workshop spaces, farmers market (indoor or outdoor), education / continuing education / teachers’ training, senior housing, physical activity, greenhouses, public open space, healthcare, Bellows Falls Historical Society cultural amenities, nature trail, native species nursery, composting, laboratories, technology, research, museum, and connectivity to the greater Connecticut River Byway. Existing Structures

This scenario displaces the collapsed portion of the Wyman Flint Mill and the utility shed to the North of the service road on site. However, equal space at the same location (yet in a new structure) can be provided instead. Other existing structures: please see “Existing Structures” on page 30. Access

This scenario emphasizes pedestrian access to the site through a new structure, and requires minor adjustments to traffic arrangements along Bridge Street to allow for increased volume of traffic behind Howard Block and the US Post Office. Precedents

Parking atop other buildings is becoming rapidly more common due to real estate values, conservation goals, and an overall interest in denser, smarter development patterns.

“The parking issue is smoke and mirrors. There’s plenty of parking in the town.”

Parking above a Lowes Home Improvement Store in Farmingham, Massachusetts Found online at: www.framinghamnatickretail.com/verizon/ Page 42

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Site and Downtown Perspective View: Public access through a new building provides safe access to the site

High Build Scenario: Parking Deck and Mixed Used Building

Page 43


Suggested Scenarios: A Kit of Parts

Scenario planning aids communities by providing alternative visions. Each of the scenarios in this report present specific program combinations. However, most of these program elements are not mutually exclusive and should be selected to provide the greatest benefit to Bellows Falls and the Town of Rockingham.

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Scenario 1

Community Gardens

Scenario 2

Agricultural Center

Scenario 3

Meatland Parcel and Town Lot Redevelopment

Scenario 4

Parking Deck and Mixed Used Building

Possible Scenario: A Kit of Parts

Page 45


Recommendations: The Michael Singer Studio team recommends pursuing the following course of action to gain better understanding of the site and create momentum for its redevelopment: Inventory

• • • •

In order to better serve and draw interested parties, create and maintain a downtown vacancy inventory of spaces and their condition In order to better understand current and future needs, and to better drive the community’s vision, initiate a comprehensive parking study of current and future needs as they relate to existing and future infrastructure Dedicate funds to complete full study of site’s geothermal potential Land ownership and easement rights pose a complex set of relationships on site and must be closely studied as part of any future development

Outreach

• • • • • • • •

Seek potential partners for adult training programs: with area universities, local businesses, etc Research foundations and government funding for various programs at the site i.e. urban community agriculture, community food processing, and green technology development Initiate conversation with Rockingham Westminster Elder Housing Advisory Committee about the potentials of developing the Meatland and municipal parking area into an mixed income elderly housing facility Seek relationship with Brattleboro Food Co-op and study the possibility of their future expansion into a 5,000 square foot space in Bellows Falls Build relationships with, and among, local businesses and the industrial park to harness mutual resources and share necessary services (such as trash recycling, and visitors’ accommodations) Continue to encourage and support the efforts of the Bellows Falls Historical Society Forge relationship with TransCanada for the purpose of gaining their support and interest in harnessing the facility’s waste heat for uses on the TLR / Historical Society site Initiate a discussion with the Bellows Falls Farmers Market about their interest and potential contribution to a permanent year-round location

Actions

• • •

• • • •

Initiate a community outreach program to involve the greater community in a discussion about the future of the TLR / Historical Society site Research requirements and potential funding sources for shared facilities such as state licensed food processing kitchens Initiate stakeholder discussion about how to bring into reality Action Step 16 from the 2005 Rockingham Town Plan Transportation Section which calls for the development of a public pedestrian path connecting: the Railroad Depot, the Square, Adam’s Grist Mill, the High School, and the Native American Petroglyphs. Consider routing as much of this pedestrian path as possible thought the TLR / Bellows Falls Historical Society site. Plan for the pedestrian walkway to connect the Waypoint Center through the village Square and Fish Ladder to the Historical Society site, and continue towards trails South of the site Commission an engineering study to determine what systems are the most cost-effective to utilize in the short and long-term planning of the site Consider modifying Central Business Expansion zoning definitions to encourage development in this area to take the physical form of the existing downtown with its density and continuous street-wall Place Grist Mill Museum signage at the Square Develop program for a walking tour on site highlighting the potentials for green technologies, Brownfield redevelopment, ecosystem and parkland regeneration, urban agriculture, reuse of waste, and adaptive reuse of historic buildings as a comprehensive development approach and draw

Miscellaneous

• •

Page 46

Research multi-generational social, educational, and public health programs harnessing seniors and youth, and funding sources Research intergrated multi-disciplinary education programs for the future comprehensive development of the TLR / Historical Society site TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


References:

Locally Grown and Processed Food, and Community Cooperation

• •

Collaborative “Yankee Individualism” in Hardwick, Vermont: New York Times October 8, 2008 Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town by Marian Burros The Farmers Diner, Quechee, Vermont: www.farmersdiner.com

Community / Allotment Gardens

• • • •

Community garden (and education) in post industrial urban areas: New York Times October 8, 2008 Sweat Equity Put to Use Within Sight of Wall St. by Jim Dwyer Urban Community Gardens: New York Times May 7, 2008 Urban Farmers’ Crops Go From Vacant Lot to Market by T. McMillan; and: New York Times November 6, 2008 Healthy Spaces, for People and the Earth by Anne Raver City of Chicago Parks District Community Gardens Website: www.cpdit01.com/resources/ community_gardens/index.html Growing Gardens, Boulder, Colorado: www.growinggardens.org/index.html

Urban Agriculture

• • • •

Growing Power, Inc.: www.growingpower.org/Index.htm Rainwater collection: New York Times July 24, 2008 Raindrops Keep Falling in My Tank by Anne Raver Raised Bed Gardening: New York Times July 24, 2008 Garden Q&A: Raised Beds for Plants by Stephen Orr; and: http://squarefootgardening.com/ Sustainable Vertical Gardening: www.valcent.net/s/Home.asp

Agricultural Distribution System

• •

Beeline Virtual Marketplace: www.doorsofperception.com/juice/archives/participants/ beeline.php Ecotrust’s Food & Farms Program: www.ecotrust.org/foodfarms/

Mill Building Redevelopment

A study by Isaac Lawrence of Marlboro College, Marloboro, Vermont, made available digitally as an appendix to this report

Multi-Generational Programs

• •

Young and Old Making a Difference by Sue McCollum and William Shreeve, Early Child Development and Care, Volume 99, 1994, Pages 103-112 Using a Learning Environment to Promote Intergenerational Relationships and Successful Aging by C. Whitehouse, S. J. FallCreek, and P. J. Whitehouse, Chapter 10 of Successful Aging through the Life Span: Integrational Issues in Health Edited by M. L. Wykle, P. J. Whitehouse, and D. L. Morris Participatory Rural Appraisal as an Approach to Environmental Education in Urban Community Gardens by Rebekha Doyle and Marianne Kransy, Environmental Education Research, Volume 9, Number 1, 2003

Recommendations and Precedents

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Addenda:

Page 50

Community Meetings

Page 56

Bellows Falls Historical Society Vision for Legacy Park Provided by the Bellows Falls Historical Society

Page 60

Bellows Falls Geothermal Investigation Provided by Cathy Bergmann, Bellows Falls Village Trustee

Page 62

Vermont Division for Historic Preservation Comments on Draft Report

Page 64

Past Report Summaries

Addenda: Table of Contents

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Community Meetings

Select Quotes Noted by Michael Singer Studio Team Members during Community Meeting, Arranged by Subject

The Michael Singer Studio team conducted a series of interviews with a variety of individuals, activists, agencies, and companies in the area. These included meetings with representatives of: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Town and Village Department Heads Town Selectboard and Village Trustees Bellows Falls Historical Society TransCanada Rockingham Art Museum Project Bellows Falls Downtown Development Alliance Greater Falls Chamber of Commerce Rockingham Community Area Land Trust Rockingham Schools District Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation Grafton Museum of Natural History Business leaders at the Rockingham Industrial Park Preservation Trust of Vermont (via conference call) Rockingham Westminster Elder Housing Advisory Committee (via conference call) Rockingham Town Management (follow up meeting) Bellows Falls Certified Local Government Commission Vermont Cabinetry (via conference call) Bellows Falls Farmers Market (via vendor interviews and a questioneer directed at the board of directors)

In addition, the Michael Singer Studio team conducted follow up interviews and research with a great many of sources and individuals including (but not limited to): • Ellen Howard, Planning-Zoning Administrator • Roger Riccio, Greater Falls Chamber of Commerce Chairperson • Robert McBride, Rockingham Art Museum Project • Local residents, area farmers, and visitors

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Meeting Quotes While full meeting minutes were taken, the Michael Singer team assured participants of meetings’ privacy and their privileged confidentiality. Therefore, the meetings and interviews’ content is brought through the quotes below, which are arranged by topic of discussion. Topics of discussion included: concerns about the site, observations about the site, unique characteristics of the site, and a vision for the site.

Concerns about the Site • How are you going to get people into the site, to know it’s there? • The Mill Street entry-exit road is located in very difficult spot regarding traffic flow • We already have a multi-generational rec. center with pool etc. that hasn’t been built and funding is available • That area is isolated from town • Dangerous: the river level is controlled by the power company and can rise as much as 2 feet with little warning • Traffic flow • There’s a lot of humming from the power lines and sometimes the wastewater treatment plant is smelly • Don’t forget this area is in a flood plain and there will be limitations about what can be done there • We need to maintain affordable work space and living space for artists • Whatever happens at the site, residents need to benefit as much as tourists • We need a good economic development plan for BF - a marketing plan for the village • The arts economy and artists living here is really good, but the town isn’t keeping those folks in business • The town has a revolving loan fund for business assistance and funds for small business • There is a lot of poverty in BF - a concentrated core of generational poverty • If this isn’t a private venture, what can the town support and maintain? • I’m worried that if nothing is done someone will get hurt on the site • We need to overcome the “nothing ever happens here” attitude • Those TLR buildings have stood vacant for a long time and a good roof leak would lose them. We need to find grants or private funds or we will lose them. • I’ve have a nightmare image that this area will become a large mini-storage facility! • Don’t make the TLR site and buildings too fancy. We need to do the right amount of fix up to respect the grittiness of Bellows Falls • This town doesn’t need more social services and more arts. The town needs a broader manufacturing base

Addenda: Community Meetings

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Observations about the Site • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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The Grist Mill museum needs to be open more We need more green space in town We need a grocery store. We have to go to New Hampshire for big stores Do you realize there are nine gas stations in the town? Many people come to the Opera House for music events. They fill the town and there’s no place for them to go afterward The creative economy has been great for BF. However, we have more space available for artists in the town than there are artists to use the space. From experience, I can tell you that negotiations and interaction with the RR Company can be difficult Just to make the TLR buildings accessible will require an elevator and that will be expensive. We need to find a private developer who understands all these costs and can make it work We don’t feel like there’s a border between us and New Hampshire. They have a boat ramp that many of use and the river doesn’t feel like a boundary Is it possible to invite the Brattleboro Co-op back to consider having an outlet in Bellows Falls? There are boat houses and boat clubs above the falls. Can something like that be below? History: canal, paper making, grist mill (should be open more often and better know of ) We could think of it as BF’s Central Park The site could be the home of the Farmer’s Market and actually we could move the community gardens there too To realize progress on this site we need to have a commercial and non-profit partnership working together to solve the problems at the site and support its future Let’s look at other groups besides the artists. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, timber framers, small operations like solar, boat building, etc which could possibly use the space as a Trades Center We don’t have a multi-use center for medical, non-traditional healing, movement, and exercise Whatever this place becomes it should welcome all members of our community We have a need for senior housing and assisted living and it should be close to town Let’s have a band stand and bring a regional audience to the waterfront. We could have a seasonal café and a dance floor at the waterfront. This will keep folks downtown I’d still like to connect a walking trail to the top of the hill across the river and include a cable car Please look at an entry to the site and parking from Westminster St. - at grade and bridging the RR tracks into the site Negotiate a trade for closing the tunnel RR crossing at the site There’s a need for small one room offices as “incubator” spaces We need to find a private developer who will take on the costs of developing this property based on guidelines we propose Whatever happens on the site should require sustainable practice for energy, water conservation, landscape etc

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Addenda: Community Meetings

Great location for bird watching The old canal wall is important to preserve The parts are all there to run the grist mill again For a long time people in the community looked down there and asked why should we bother? That is beginning to change which is good but it is discouraging how slowly things move The buildings have got to stay I would hate to see the buildings torn down. It would be an injustice to take those buildings down We won’t put heavy industry down there We should focus on providing for the people who live in Bellows Falls rather than focusing on attracting outsiders and tourists The parking issue is smoke and mirrors. There’s plenty of parking in the town It is important to look at both sides of the river and not exclude NH as a resource BF is a place where things happen organically, ideas grow and partners come into the process to realize projects. It takes time to make things happen here There is a waiting list for community garden space Gentrification is not the model of growth in Bellows Falls. There is a level of grittiness in BF that isn’t going away and makes this place special. This grittiness will also keep the town from gentrifying “Adaptive reuse” is the key to the site - bringing life and activity to the site is more important than restoring it to its exact previous condition. Getting activity to the area is important The archaeology of the site is very interesting; a piece of the original canal is buried in the TLR building. The town once got a grant to study the industrial archaeology of the site The grist mill used to be powered by the canal Development should take baby steps and not occupy the entire building right away Anything done at the TLR site should complement the new visitor center 60% of our business is overseas Incubator space might be eligible for state financial assistance and would require: low rent, office/clerical services, tax relief, and low utility costs The town needs accommodations for visitors Birds like the lake that does not freeze The public right of way at the site is the Old Westminster Highway and it is considered an “ancient road” We are a river community that has no access to the river Historically the paper mills were a barrier to the river but now this ruin could be a draw. There is a whole tourist trade in industrial archaeology that could draw people. The site has so much: the river, trails, archaeology, fish ladder… This is a miracle sitting just yards from the downtown and it’s up to us to make it accessible I think of the power company building as one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture around New development here has 5 year tax relief: 100% 1st year, 80% 2nd year, 60% 3rd year, 40% 4th year, and 20% 5th year.

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Unique Characteristics of the Site • This is an area that is undiscovered for most people in Bellows Falls and the region • How often can you find open riverfront land immediately next to the most congested part of a Village? • With foresight this place can be preserved as a public space like Central Park • Recreation at that site would be a great attractor • Bellows Falls has a special history; the canal, papermaking, the grist mill… This is a place to learn about a special time in American history • Our waste water treatment plant is doing innovative things like methane collection and innovative treatment. It would be cool to let people see this and understand it • Even though it’s part of the downtown, 90-95% of the population has never been there • NW wind prevails in winter. Summer winds vary. There is odor (from the wastewater plant) along the road sometimes • The town has a tax stabilization program and there could be historic preservation tax credits • There’s enough land where the park will be to have a native plant nursery • This site is an important piece of understanding our puzzle as a whole village

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Vision for the Site • A River front farmer’s market would be great • There could be studios and classrooms, office space, the extension of a university for studying Early American Industry and river sites • This site plays an important role in the rebirth and renaissance of BF and it becomes a place for all: young and old. It serves to make us proud of who we are: a mill town with a great history that people can know and be proud of • This becomes a place of economic stimulus, an incubator for business that betters the town and village • Use the two town owned buildings for all the historic artifacts and creates a museum there that also has a teaching space and reference library • Partner with the Grafton Museum and do nature courses, history and environment • Arboretum for trees on the endangered species list, elms, butternuts and chestnuts • It would be great to see the site used to bring in more tax base to the town, bring in tax-paying operations • Possible uses for the buildings: exhibits on water and how it was used, office or incubator space • The site offers the potential of merging old and new technologies • R&D projects could be “given” to students as part of an education center • Teaching geology, natural sciences, and more CAN be done along the CT River - it’s a perfect place for this! • Teacher’s training facility on the site could be perfect as they need to hit specific “standards” in a variety of disciplines - something the site can offer. The museum usually gets around 10 teachers per training session - for now they are all working locally, but would love to expand this operation • A multi-use property that includes tourist trade, museum, recreation, education • Use the site as part of a train museum • Perhaps this could be a place for modular home building industry • Wood pellet industry is big • Could be an ideal site for a solar production company • Consider a satellite for a large social service agency like health care, mental health. Agencies often rely on state contracts to pay rent • These buildings contain valuable embodied energy, and the best sustainable practice is to use existing buildings rather than building new • A new housing development where “Meatland” is would be great, and it could have a public access from Westminster St. over the RR tracks to the TLR building

Addenda: Community Meetings

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Bellows Falls Historical Society Vision for Legacy Park Provided by Bellows Falls Historical Society

Mission Statement The Bellows Falls Historical Society is dedicated to creating a legacy of education, experience, and hands-on knowledge of the past and how it relates to the community’s place in the future. The Society preserves and displays lands, buildings and artifacts in a global and interdisciplinary manner to bring the story of our community alive to present and future generations.

Buildings’ Usage Grist Mill Museum: Now used as a museum to house artifacts of industrial and agricultural history with various pieces of local mercantile, transportation, military and sundry scattered here and there. The Bellows Falls Historical Society would like to see this building become an interactive museum performing as an actual gristmill. TLR: Currently vacant and boarded the TLR building has the potential for several scenarios: museum for ephemera, textiles, furniture, artifacts currently at the Grist Mill Museum, historical library, images, genealogy, shared office space for non-profits, government, and community outreach, classroom space for local, regional and statewide schools, museums and institutes i.e. Dartmouth Environmental Studies, Grafton Nature Museum, Great River Arts Institute. Wyman Flynt: In this larger open space the Society envisions: display area for larger equipment such as farm implements, papermaking equipment and historical vehicles while also providing space for an indoor farmer’s market, conferences and art performances and displays, seasonal exhibitions by clubs and groups such as engine clubs, steam enthusiasts, model railroad clubs and industrial archeologist groups, etc.

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Alternative Access • Pedestrian ramp from Fish Ladder • Pedestrian bridge from Howard Block to 3rd level of Carpenter shop would require elevator Both would tie the site to the Waypoint Center, Chamber of Commerce, Green Mountain Flyer, public parking and would not require crossing tracks. We looked very hard at developing a bridge from Westminster Street (on either side of Meatland) to a new building between the Grist Mill and TLR. Our knowledge and vision were limited as to how this would work.

Land Usage This land will open the river to the Village, a feat that has not been possible for a century. The trails and land will invite natives and newcomers alike to enjoy and explore this river that created our valley and brought the earliest settlers to it. We do not simply want trails however, and our plans would include many other explorations of both mind and spirit: • Arboretum of native species that are endangered or near extinction for future generations to enjoy • Enhance the biodiversity of the site by planting and preserving the natural flora to attract native birds and fauna for observation • Create public performance space from natural formations so people can enjoy the two together • Create observation and solitude areas for peace and relaxation often missing in these times • Create ways to travel safely and comfortably no matter your mobility into natures’ secret spaces that you might never have been able to go before • Create safe access for fishing where families can enjoy this Vermont tradition together • Create easy and safe non-motorized boating access close to the Village, not available since the old boathouse burned at the turn of the last century

Addenda: Bellows Falls Historical Society Vision - Provided by Bellows Falls Historical Society

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Partners We have approached many local partners in our 5-year quest towards our dream. We have pieced together and worked together with the help of Susan McMahon and Jennifer Waite this vision. We may never in our lifetimes seen much of it materialize. Our partnership with you Michael (Singer) and your group has been exciting and frightening. The dream has been called to reality. I will list the partners we have included, are including and know we can include though there’s never been much mention of money. But what a vision it is: Schools • • • • • • • • • • •

Local and Regional public schools Compass School Dartmouth College Antioch College Marlboro College Landmark College Community College of Vermont Keene State College Howard Dean Center River Valley Technical Center Brattleboro Vocational Center

Local Organizations • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Roots on the River Flying Under Radar Great River Arts Institute Pinnacle Hill Association Rockingham Arts and Museum Project Rockingham Services Senior Center Walking Group Bellows Falls Health Center Benevolent Associations (Elks, Moose, KofC, Legion,) Greater Falls Chamber of Commerce Rockingham Recreational Department Bellows Falls Police and Fire Department Green Mountain Flyer Railroad

Other • Steve McAllister - Liberty Associates • Northern and Southern Chapters of the Society of Industrial Archeology • Antique Car and Truck club

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Conclusion For as long as the memory of any living resident of our Village, we have been denied access to the river that created this place. The railroad and the mills had posed a barrier to residents preventing them from enjoying, exploring and utilizing the shores and banks of the Connecticut River. Pollution was also a major discouragement to several generations and the Village had turned its back to the river. The cleanup of the last four decades, the decline and removal of many riverfront mills, and now the Historical Society’s plan for a Riverfront Park and Trail System has given the Village new hope for a safe and vital access to the river that we have never known. So when the Bellows Falls Historical Society was given a gift of 8 acres more or less and an old gristmill filled with memories and dust and grist and pigeons - the vision and the dream were born. We removed the damaged books crawling with silverfish, and dresses and gloves in 97-degree heat. Most of us have known each other for decades and some forever. We looked at what we had and the dream grew. Stew the pragmatic one started to list why we couldn’t just do what we wanted. So Stew went out and worked to make our vision happen. The Windham Regional Commission in the form of Susan McMahon and the National Parks Service in the form of Jennifer Waite came along and we began to think that maybe some of this could and would happen.

Addenda: Bellows Falls Historical Society Vision - Provided by Bellows Falls Historical Society

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Bellows Falls Geothermal Investigation

Provided by Cathy Bergmann, Bellows Falls Village Trustee

Anecdotal History Bellows Falls Village has had a public water supply system for about a century, which obtains its water from a pond (Minards Pond), so historically wells were not drilled in the village area. First evidence of geothermal energy was discovered in 1966, when a well was drilled downtown for a drinking water supply at the American Legion building. The well was drilled into the surficial sand & gravel aquifer. The water was found to be too warm - around 60F - which was causing too much bacterial growth to be useable for drinking. A geothermal study was conducted between 1979 and 1982 on behalf of the Bellows Falls Village Corporation under a federal Department of Energy Grant. The project evaluated various options for a municipal heating district, including wood and geothermal. The study did not result in a municipal heating system. The geothermal component of this study only looked at the surficial sand & gravel aquifer - not the bedrock - because that was where the 1966 well at the VFW found warm water. 9 test wells were installed, 70 to 90 ft deep. In the 9 test wells, a groundwater temp of 53 to 58 F (8 to 13 F above normal) was measured. The water temperature was steady year-round, and had no relation to the Connecticut River water temperature, indicating that the elevated water temperature was indeed from a geothermal source. A heat pump system was installed at the Canal House (a 50-unit senior living facility) in 1986. The system both heated and cooled the building using the thermal energy from the groundwater. Two wells were drilled for the Canal House, functioning as a main well and as a backup. In addition, the VFW well was plumbed into the system as a second backup. The groundwater heat pump system at the Canal House is still in use for cooling only, because mechanical problems with the obsolete heat pump equipment that cannot be repaired have rendered in unusable. The Canal House system pumps groundwater at the rate of 180 gallons per minute. The groundwater temperature in 2008 is still 58 F, as it was in 1986, indicating that the rate of water consumption is sustainable. Interest in geothermal energy was revived during a hydrogeologic project that VHB-Pioneer was conducting in 2007-2008 for the Town of Rockingham, Planning Commission/ZBA. The study consisted of mapping aquifers and recharge areas throughout Rockingham. Most properties in Rockingham obtain potable water from on-site private wells; therefore, groundwater aquifers are relied upon in most of the land area in Rockingham as the source of water Page 60 - Addenda

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


for human consumption. The study was conducted because the Town wished to improve land use decisions, planning, and zoning, by taking groundwater resources into consideration. During this study, the existence of a bedrock geologic formation beneath Bellows Falls, that could be associated with geothermal energy, was discovered, and the older geothermal study was re-evaluated.

Geology Warm groundwater (53° to 58° F, about 5°-10° warmer than normal) was previously found in the unconfined gravel aquifer beneath parts of Bellows Falls village. Test wells installed in this area have yields of 200 to 300 gpm in a gravel layer located 70 to 90 feet deep. VHB Pioneer believes that the geothermal energy most likely originates from water discharging from the bedrock aquifer underneath the gravel. Bedrock groundwater here has not been tested but likely has high yield and warm temperature. The slightly warm groundwater in the surficial sand & gravel aquifer is most likely the result of warm groundwater, discharging from the underlying bedrock, into the surficial sand & gravel aquifer. Due to the valley location of Bellows Falls, it is likely that groundwater from the bedrock aquifer discharges upwards into the overlying sand & gravel water table. Recharge to the bedrock likely originates from the higher terrain west of the village. The bedrock below parts of Bellows Falls Village is an igneous bedrock pluton, part of the Bethlehem Formation, a Devonian-age rock that formed from underground magma. (The surrounding rock is mica schist belonging to the Ordovician-age Partridge formation). An “igneous pluton” refers to rock formed below earth surface from molten rock (magma). This type of rock can be associated with a hot spot deep below the earth. In many areas, wells of this rock type have a normal groundwater temperature - after all, the rock has had 400 million years to cool. But in some locations, where there is a weak or thin spot in the bedrock, heat from deep within earth gets closer to surface than normal. The Connecticut River Valley, where Bellows Falls is located, is a fault zone; the Connecticut River Valley was caused by separation of continental plates. This faulting may have created such weak spots allowing active currents of hot rock deep within the earth to reach closer to the surface. Geothermal energy sources are not common in the eastern US. In Vermont, the igneous plutonic bedrock is uncommon, and much of the bedrock is metamorphic, not associated with geothermal energy. Addenda: Bellows Falls Geothermal Investigation - Provided by Cathy Bergmann, Bellows Falls Village Trustee

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Addenda: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation Comments on Draft Report

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Report Summaries

Past Reports Summarized by the Michael Singer Team

2005 Rockingham Town Plan Synopsis Housing

• Issues mentioned: high rate of rental (vs. owner occupied) dwelling units, low diversity in dwelling unit types, ongoing struggle to support low income housing (senior housing, “Section 8” vouchers, and a local land-lease program supporting home buyers), higher density areas losing private lawns for parking. • Policy #2 calls to encourage single family owner occupied housing, and Policy #3 calls to encourage diversity in housing types. • Policies promote: Support seasonal/vacation homes (bring in tax dollars but do not burden school system), encourage “cluster housing” to keep larger expanses of green open space, and “encourage the effective use of green open space as an important part of decent housing” (policy #10).

Transportation

• Goal #2 calls “To utilize existing rail and highway corridors as a stimulus for economic growth”. • Action Step #3 calls for “The Town will support the development of a multimodal facility, preferably on the Island…” • Truck traffic needs to pass through Bellows Falls to and from New Hampshire. This is perceived as having a negative affect on businesses in Bellows Falls, but also seen as vital for the local and regional economy. • Action Step #7 calls for the creation of a Gateway at the southern end of Bellows Falls Village - something currently in the works. • Action Step #16 calls for the development of a pedestrian path connecting: the Railroad Depot, Square, the Grist Mill, the High School, and the Petroglyphs.

Energy

• There are hot wells in Bellows Falls which have been harnessed to heat Rockingham Canal House - a senior housing project on Rockingham Street. More information can be found in reference to the Hot Well study conducted which is available on file at the Rockingham town offices. • Between 1900 and 1924 a trolley line connected BF with Saxtons River. Currently, there is bus service through Town & Village Bus, Inc. The bus company hopes to operate a multi-modal transportation hub on the island. • The hydroelectric plant in BF is operated by PG&E (now TransCanada) (generating approx 241 MKW/HR annually - 10 year average from the Synapose Report), which also has generators at Vernon and Wilder. There is another, smaller hydro plant on the Williams River in Brockways Mills. This facility closed down and was dismantled, but the dam and impoundment remain, as well as the federal license. The facility came under new ownership and may currently be in use. The electric substation located on Bridge Street and the lines coming out of it are an impediment on the future of the town, as demonstrated by their negative affect on the rehabilitation of the Exner Block. Action Step #4 calls for the burial of utility lines in areas of great scenic or historic value, town centers, and very compact subdivisions (such as ½ acre lots or less). • Other Action Steps include: encouraging woodlot owners to engage in sustainable forest management programs, promote solar systems where feasible, and develop an interconnected system of sidewalks and walking/biking trails.

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TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Education

“Education needs and priorities listed by Rockingham’s residents included increasing parental involvement, providing better opportunities and access for adult education, improving vocational opportunities, and improving the overall image and quality of education in Rockingham” (Chapter 4: Education, Page 40 of the 2001 Plan).

Historic Preservation

Rockingham has a Certified Local Government Commission (CLG) to manage historic preservation efforts and assistance.

Economic Development

• Rockingham did the following to promote economic development: water and sewer lines extended to the Industrial Park, there is a full time economic development director, began identifying sites for future industrial expansion, purchased and began renovation of the Windham Hotel (now on hold - based on information from Brattleboro Credit Corporation), published a tourist directory, and compiled a database of available rental spaces for commercial-industrial activity (available at the Development Office). • Agriculture and forestry are important as well. • The Connecticut River Scenic Byway is designated at federal and state levels as a scenic byway and Bellows Falls is a Waypoint Community along it; with an interpretive visitors’ center on the Island. Bellows Falls Downtown is a state Downtown Development District, eligible for incentives. • There is a hope that developing a rail-car-bus multimodal facility on the island will increase foot traffic through the downtown. • Exner Block is identified as a good pedestrian connection between the Island and Downtown.

Agricultural Resources

Agriculture has visual appeal to tourists and locals. Farming has shrunk as well as transitioned from dairy to vegetable farming. Researching other revenue producing farm products is necessary. Land Link is a program operated through the University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture which connects farmland owners with people wanting to farm. Continuing operation of and preservation of farmland is important as small scale farming is growing as a possible revenue stream for the community. Policy #1 states: “Rockingham should conserve the irreplaceable agricultural resources and knowledge which might again be needed to provide sustenance for area residents”. Prime agricultural land shall be preserved; secondary agricultural land should be used for development. Therefore density increases in the Planned Unit Development zoning bylaws should be increased to promote cluster residential development. The town should establish a conservation fund to purchase land and development rights in order to preserve agricultural land.

Forestry - Wildlife Resources & Earth Resources

No specific forestry resources identified within Rockingham. There is a street tree program that deals with the “Urban Forest”. Specific areas within Rockingham to consider as natural resources are identified in the Forestry & Wildlife Map (page 201 of the 2001 plan) and should be considered whenever new development is proposed. “Green Spaces” within Bellows Falls are considered important as well. A forestry management program was to take effect in all municipally owned forest.

Addenda: Past Report Summaries

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Historic Resources

In 1999 the town was awarded a grant to construct an interpretive center on the island. There are multiple National Register Historic Districts in Rockingham, including downtown Bellows Falls and the Island. A full inventory of the historic sites is available on page 82 of the 2001 plan. It includes the Native American Petroglyphs located by the Connecticut River below Vilas Bridge.

Potable Water Supply

• “Adequate potable water has not been a major concern historically. This situation can change suddenly and drastically as was the case in Saxtons River Village several years ago when wells serving residences along Main and River Streets became contaminated from improper handling and disposal of chemicals and wastes” (page 98 of the 2001 plan). • No town wide study of long-term availability of groundwater has been conducted. However, a VT Department of Water Resources plotted a Ground Water Favorability Map for the region which includes Rockingham. A 1999 study by Forcier Aldrich & Associates outlines several location in the distribution that needed care, as well as problems with the “insufficient hydraulic capacity to meet current demands” (page 96). • Policy #3: “In order to conserve the town’s water resources and minimize the cost of public water supply and waste disposal systems, development shall be planned, designed, constructed, and operated to minimize consumptive water demands” (page 100). Bellows Falls has a village wide municipal water systems which extends to the industrial park to the north. Not all areas in the village are served due to elevation issues and a lack of adequate pressure. The system is fed by Minards Pond to the west of the village, collecting water from a 600+ acre watershed that begins at the hillsides to the west of I-91 and includes the Ellis and Farr brooks, as well as the 50+ acre area immediately around the pond. In addition to the pond there are three concrete water tanks used for water storage: #1- a 1980 375,000 gallon capacity tank on Clace Drive, #2- a 1988 500,000 gallon tank at the south end of the village off Cedar Crest Road, #3- a 700,000 gallon tank at the Minards Pond water treatment facility. The water treatment facility in Minards Pond can treat up to 300,000 gallons per day (Sourced NOT from the 2001 Plan, but The Bellows Falls Consumer Confidence report for 2008 - Water Quality Report, which is available online and distributed by law to users of the water system).

Municipal Sewage Systems

The Bellows Falls Village Sewer System and the Saxtons River Village Sewer System combined serve some 70% of Rockingham’s residents. The remaining 30% are served by individual on site septic systems. Sewer system capacity is a major determinant in the possible land uses and density on any particular site. The Bellows Falls system has a capacity of 1.34 million gallons per day with a treatment facility discharging (secondary treatment quality water) into the Connecticut River just north of the junction with Saxtons River. As of 2001 the Bellows Falls systems was operating on 30% capacity discharging an average 0.42 million gallons per day. Though operating much below treatment plant capacity, the Bellows Falls system suffers from pressure limitations in its collection network. There are pumping stations in need of upgrading. In addition, as of 2000 there were significant issues with regard to the combined sewer overflows which are no longer allowed into the Connecticut River (so on site water retention can be a key issue here). Page 66 - Addenda

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Page 104 states that “While the… facility is at only 30%... due to the amount of sepatge and sludge accepted at the plant, the solids ‘loadings’ are high. If the daily hydraulic loading is increased, the septage and sludge operations would have to be reduced” (so there is a long-term problem with the solid being accepted from septic systems overloading the facility). That is why between 2000 and 2005 sludge was transported to Claremont, NH for treatment at a rate of 10 (wet) tons per week.

Solid Waste (Amended 2005)

Rockingham’s waste is collected by private haulers and transported to the incinerator in Claremont, NH. Residents may purchase “disposal tickets” from the town clerk and deliver bagged trash to a trash transfer station (located at the recycling Center constructed jointly with Westminster at the Old Bellows Falls Village Dump site on Rout 5 about ½ Mile south of the village). The town provides curb side yard waste pickup. The Vermont-New Hampshire Solid Waste District pays the incinerator operator, with shortfalls in waste tonnage paid by member towns - resulting in higher tipping fees due to waste stream reduction since the introduction of recycling.

Storm Water Management

Page 119: “On-site stormwater runoff controls are designed to reduce problems at the point of origin and are the responsibility of the individual developers. Failure to adequately provide for on-site control can necessitate creation of additional off-site controls, the cost of which is borne by the taxpayers. While both are necessary for a complete system, the community should review development plans to assure that impacts on downstream areas are minimized.”

Land Use

The main issue is controlling the development of detached single family homes and ensuring the protection of the natural, agricultural, and historical resources, as well as the character of Rockingham. Please see Land Use Map in the plan’s addendum. Land use categories can be studied in pages 127-132.

Local Government & Services - Community Services

Public Services within Rockingham include: administrative office, cemeteries, development office, emergency medical services, fire department, health officer (and zoning administrator), highway department, historic commission, library, listers’ office, police, recreation, recycling center, town clerk’s office, zoning board of adjustment planning commission, and town hall. In addition, the 5 member Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees are responsible for the village’s services and operations.

Addenda: Past Report Summaries

Page 67 - Addenda


An Architectural Feasibility Study for TLR Buildings, Bellows Falls Canal Proposed Connecticut River Heritage Site, Final Report - January 2002 Prepared by: Community Investments, Smith and Vansant Architects, Landworks, Lyssa Papazian, Roberto Rodriguez, Sarah Rooker, Duncan Smith

Overall

• Study from a public exploration during 2001. Architectural and program assessment coupled with a public participation meeting in Oct 2001. Recommended a 3 phase approach: 1. Stabilize existing buildings, 2. Demolition, stabilizing and mothballing other structures (effectively happened in 2004). 3. Re-use scenarios. • The report concludes that the buildings do not provide a sufficient critical mass for a regionally scaled Connecticut River Museum. In a follow up later they substantiate that claim by describing the need for additional revenue streams. The reuse scenarios break out into 3 offerings: • Remains in the hand of the Town. Results in piecemeal improvements and maintenance costs. • Long term Lease with expectation that Tenant underwrites improvements • Public Private Partnership No specific numbers or partners appear to be identified in the report. The attached hazardous material assessment is building focused.

Summary

Chapter 1: Introduction - A Brief History of the Site • 1792 Canal Chartered • 1802 Canal Completed • 1834/35 Grist Mill Built • 1850 Railroad comes, canals used for power • 1870-1920 Paper Complexes • The Island (not our site) received historic designation in 1989 Chapter 2: Public Meeting - The Feasibility Study held a public meeting October 4, 2001. The Core of the effort was to explore: • Heritage Tourism • Local & Natural History • Educational Opportunities • Integrating Arts and Crafts

Page 68 - Addenda

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio


Chapter 3: Vision - Objectives: • Restore and revitalize the complex • Create historical programming • Create a tourist market Chapter 4: TLR Complex A good portion of the TLR complex has come down since the writing of this report. Recommendations (pp 28-31): • Phase 1: Improve the Russell and Moore Buildings - $48K to $64K • Phase 2: Abatement & Demolitions - $425K to $850K • Phase 3: Reuse Russell and Moore Buildings - $112-120 / Sf Chapter 5: Site and Context •

Access Recommendations:

Bridge to Russell Building (from the private lot) Walk down Mill Street Staircase down from Westminster (still have to cross the tracks) Down through the Power Plant

Interpretive Opportunities:

Geology - Falls and River Gorge:

Wildlife / Habitat:

Fish:

Cultural:

Plates Fault Line Glaciation Meander

Hardwood and Mixed Forest 300 vertebrate animals

Fish Ladder

Abanaki Settlement

Chapter 6: Development Scenarios Determined that there were not enough buildings for a world-class heritage site. 3 development scenarios outlined: • Town remains the Owner: slowly fill up the buildings and make improvements as needed by tenants. • Long-Term Lease: shifts build out costs to the tenants • Private Developer

Addenda: Past Report Summaries

Page 69 - Addenda


Removal Program after Action Report - October 2002 - November 2003 Overall

Review of the removal of Asbestos Containing Materials, Fuel Oil and Oil Tanks and Building Deconstruction for the parts of the Russell and Moore buildings that came down. Removal plan was occasioned by Oil Spills in 1991, having to “abandon” a number of Underground Storage Tanks in 1993 because of fuel oil in sediments and the identification of a number of Above Ground Storage Tanks in 2001. $1.08 M was allocated for the EPA initiated project.

Partial Targeted Brownfields Assessment II - May 2008 Overall

Principally focused on the recreation areas below the immediate site. The site is home to a groundwater plume of chlorine. In the River sediments are chlorinated solvents and fuel oil. Just below our site are a number of hotspots (see the Figures). Cold Spring Pond has chlorine contaminants, also appears to be spring or underground creek fed. There is a “mound vent” in the southernmost area of their site (near the Waste Treatment Plant) that is releasing steam of unknown composition. The report is useful for us principally because of info about the surrounding context, and soil samples in area described in Bellows Falls Historical Society plans as potential parking area.

Summary

• Following completion of the Assessment, a Corrective Action Plan is to be made as well as a Final Report. • Site of Investigation - 3 Areas of Concern Overall (defined Table 1, pp4-6): Area 1: Buildings Area 2: Southern Part of Site Area 3: Train and utility easements • This report focuses on Area 2 with an eye toward high contact recreation, and therefore focused on superficial soils analysis (0-2 ft)

Dioxins

16 of 34 samples exceed Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRG): • Metals (arsenic, barium, chromium, cadmium, mercury, lead): Arsenic only one exceeding PRG, ad can be naturally occurring • PAH’s: Pervasive: 5 of 36 samples exceeded PRG • PCB’s: Initial findings believed to be false positives • VOC’s: A limited amount exceed PRG

Page 70 - Addenda

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site - Strategic Planning Study - Michael Singer Studio

Profile for Michael Singer

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site Strategic Planning Study  

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site Strategic Planning Study

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site Strategic Planning Study  

TLR Complex / Bellows Falls Historical Society Site Strategic Planning Study

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