RUTLAND–A collaboration of the City of Rutland, Rutland Redevelopment Authority, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont, and Project VISION on Sept. 30 announced a number of recently completed action steps representing significant progress towards the revitalization of a section of the city’s Northwest Neighborhood.
In July, 2014 the city was awarded a $1.25 million implementation grant through the Vermont Community Development Program to be used for acquisition, demolition and rehabilitation of vacant and physically deteriorated properties located within a section of the neighborhood. Over the past year a number of important steps have been achieved. Progress has included the acquisition and demolition of several previously vacant and blighted structures and the acquisition of other less deteriorated property, which will be renovated for future owner-occupancy. The city has also made significant investments in the neighborhood’s infrastructure and aesthetics, with a $5 million sewer/storm water separation initiative nearing completion and new sidewalks, fresh paving, and attractive green strips and tree plantings being installed along the neighborhood’s streets.
“The recent progress we have made towards acquiring targeted properties that have long been a blighting influence on this neighborhood has been exciting,” said Rutland City Mayor Chris Louras. “This is the type of public investment and progress that will help generate excitement and stimulate private investment in the area,” he added.
One of the most visible acquisitions to date occurred at 65 Baxter Street, the site of a formerly vacant and blighted structure, which was the first successful property transfer achieved through the grant. The recent progress was celebrated with a community block party at the cleared site on Saturday, October 3.
“Not only were we able to remove a blighted structure from the neighborhood but the residents surrounding it have been given the opportunity to determine the future reuse of this property,” said Rutland Redevelopment Authority Director Brennan Duffy.
Working with the city’s Recreation and Parks Department, a public engagement process has occurred and the surrounding residents have determined that a small park including a playground for younger children, covered picnic tables, and a tetherball and bocce court will be constructed. Neighborworks of Western Vermont (NWWVT) has partnered with the city through the grant and is responsible for the property acquisition and rehabilitation of vacant properties. The allotted funding allows a budget for the eventual demolition of four properties and the rehabilitation of seven others. The rehabilitated properties will be returned to owner-occupancy through the NWWVT’s home ownership programs.
Mary Cohen, homeownership director, says, “NeighborWorks will begin rehabilitating the first of seven homes in the Northwest Neighborhood this fall and will be marketing them as owner-occupied residences. NWWVT is committed to this neighborhood and is currently offering many programs and services to promote homeownership, including downpayment assistance, homebuyer education and counseling, as well as purchase and rehabilitation loans. We believe this is an attractive neighborhood for first-time homebuyers because of all the close amenities of downtown, outdoor recreation and pure affordability.”
“We have a vision to make Rutland one of the healthiest, happiest and safest communities in America,” said Joe Kraus, chairman of Rutland’s Project VISION. “To get there we have undertaken many different initiatives. Among the most important are the efforts to help build great neighborhoods. It is our hope and belief that the work in the Northwest Neighborhood will encourage first time home owners to consider this neighborhood as the place where they want to invest their hard earned capital, raise their families and live their lives. When that happens, this will truly be a great neighborhood.”