In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Warren Select Board is considering putting certain roadwork projects on hold. “We’re going to need to build in some resiliency in our budget,” said select board chair Andrew Cunningham at the board meeting on April 7.
Cunningham suggested that in order to maintain a financial reserve, the board should hold back on the request for proposal (RFP) for a paving project. An RFP is a business document that provides details about a specific project and solicits bids from contractors who will help complete it. Without the RFP, it’s likely that the paving project will be postponed.
The paving project includes fixing five segments of road on Roxbury Mountain Road as well as several segments on Plunkton Road. Technically, the town could take care of the labor part of these projects on its own. However, the town depends on the RFP to receive grant money for materials (rock, gravel, etc.), and without these materials the project cannot start.
The decision to hold off on road maintenance projects isn’t one-sided, however. Vermont is also looking at a hold of grants at the state level. “Don’t be surprised if grant money that we thought we were awarded disappears,” said Cunningham, commenting on the fact that the pandemic has stalled the grant issuing process from both sides. According to select board member Bob Ackland, the state is already “$200 million in the hole because of this.”
While more grant-dependent road projects have potential to be stalled, for now Warren is simply holding back on one paving project. “That can be our first step in this direction and we can take more in the future if we need to,” said Cunningham.
Warren emergency management director Jeff Campbell gave the board an update on COVID-19 at the state and local level and reported that the Mad River Valley Community Fund is now working independently from The Mad River Valley Emergency Response Management Team.