Local News
February 17, 2016

Town mulls supporting chamber expansion

By Stephen Seitz

WOODSTOCK — On March 1, voters will be asked to consider whether to float a $100,000 bond to expand the town’s tourist welcome center on Mechanic Street into a permanent office for the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce.

The money would allow the chamber to add 300 square feet for office and storage space, as well as a bathroom and waiting area. An architectural rendering depicts the building as a small red farm house with lots of windows.

Chamber Director Beth Finlayson said the bond payments would be funded through rent. According to the warning article, grants could be sought to bring the cost down.

“The town has already received a couple of proposals,” Finlayson said. “The cost is at the maximum, with a 15 percent contingency. The final cost could be substantially less than $100,000.”

“The chamber has moved four or five times in the past eight years,” said Finlayson. “This will help us establish a presence.”

In the past, the office has been located above the Footprints shoe store, then at the Woodstock Properties real estate office, and then a few years at the American Legion. Currently, the chamber is using space at the Woodstock Inn.

“Our office would have a permanent location,” Finlayson said, if the article passes. “We would be more visible.”

Finlayson said the chamber was working with the newly established town economic development commission on the project.

Besides the proposed chamber expansion, Woodstock voters will be asked to decide whether to appropriate $948,000 to cover sewer department expenses; $686,000 of that would come from user fees. Also on the warning is a proposal to exempt the Norman Williams Library from paying taxes on its parking lot, as well as $50,000 for library operations. The proposed town budget for the next fiscal year is $4.8 million.

As it awaits the voters’ decision, the chamber remains focused on upcoming events. Maple Madness will be held during Maple Open House weekend; painted sap buckets will be located throughout Woodstock and will be auctioned off.

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