It takes a village.
In the case of Farm-Way, it was actually a town. Bradford, Vermont, to be exact.
Not to mention a federal program, three state agencies, one state board, two nonprofits, an act by the Legislature, two banks and public hearings — not to mention lawyers. And not least, a business owner with a lot of patience.
Those are the parties whose participation was required for Farm-Way, Bradford’s noted clothing, farm and recreational supply store, to build a 19,500-square-foot expansion on a designated brownfield site. The addition, which finally opened last month, six years after its conception, provides a long-needed warehouse and retail space for Farm-Way’s boot and shoe department.
“It was a long, long process and I’m sure for the people at Farm-Way it must have bordered on agonizing,” said Ted Unkles, a member of the Bradford Selectboard, but “in the end everyone was very happy.”
“It’s a little more complicated to do business in Vermont,” said Carol Metayer, president and co-owner of Farm-Way.
On the other hand, the $1.8 million project showcases how the public and private sectors can collaborate to clean up a contaminated property, develop it, return the asset into operation for a local employer and place it back on the town’s tax roll.
“From our perspective and others its to be used as a model in the redevelopment of private property,” said Eric Sandblom, principal engineer of KAS, the Williston, Vt., environmental firm that was hired to clean up the brownfield site.
Brownfield properties “all over the state” are standing idle that could be cleaned up and put back into use by involving regional development commissions and regional planning commissions, said Joan Goldstein, the former head of Green Mountain Coffee who is now the commissioner of economic development for Vermont.
“That is the essence of economic development,” she continued.