Financing the Brown Schoolhouse Bridge at Parcel 5

Story by Stephen Flanders, Norwich Trails volunteer

After the March 2020 vote authorizing the project, a request for design-build proposals (RFP) was prepared and advertised. There were eight respondents, of which four were responsive to the RFP. 

Architect/engineer Nick Fabrikant’s winning bid on the contract was for a 38-foot span at $75,700—less than the $80,000 authorized by the voters in March. The other two most technically qualified proposals were for a 40-foot span with wooden cribbing and wooden railings for $79,900 and a 100-foot steel span with minimal site alteration for $138,000. In addition to price, proposals were reviewed for understanding of the scope of work, qualifications, past performance, durability and of the proposed structure, and the esthetic quality of proposed design. Fabrikant’s proposal scored the highest and cost the least among those received.

At the time of the March vote, there was a federal Recreational Trails Program grant request to the State of Vermont for $50,000 to offset the amount authorized by voters. The state informed us that this proposal was not funded because previous-year unfunded projects received priority. In addition, the Norwich Trails volunteers applied to four foundations for grants totaling $39,000. Of these, we received $10,000 from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation and $2,000 from the Norwich Women’s Club. Private citizens of Norwich contributed another $3,400.

The tax impact of the project will extend over five years, starting in 2021. The selectboard approved obtaining a conventional loan for $65,700 at 2.25% interest rate. Such a loan would result in payments totaling about $14K in each of five years, which at the current Municipal Grand List level means that a $500,000 property would pay under $9 in taxes for each of the five years as its share of repaying the loan.

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