A HISTORY OF HOW WE GOT STARTED
In the Spring of 2017, a concerned group of Bridgewater residents came together in an effort to Save the Bridgewater Village School Building from being demolished. We met regularly through the spring, summer and fall. In the autumn of 2017 the Select Board officially sanctioned our group. During the past year, we have consulted, collaborated and come together with state agencies, businesses and foundations. Along the way, we developed some wonderful community partnerships. This summer (2018) we officially incorporated as a non-profit in the State of Vermont—the Bridgewater Area Community Foundation, Inc.—and we have applied with the IRS to get 501(c)(3) status.
Bridgewater Area Community Foundation proposed to enter into a five year lease with the Town of Bridgewater for the use of the Bridgewater Village School, and will guarantee that no new tax dollars will be requested for the operation and programming of the building, over and above any money that has already been approved in the current town budget.
● The Town will continue to own the building and all the land.
● The Non-Profit would be responsible for all expenses, maintenance, fundraising, programming, etc. Any revenue generated due to the use of the building or programming would be retained by the Non-Profit.
● Preserve a valuable Town asset that is currently assessed at over $600,000
● Eliminate spending a significant amount of taxpayer dollars to demolish the building
● Eliminate the need to spend additional taxpayer dollars to build a large meeting room/community building for Town Meeting, Emergency Shelter or other town functions.
● Eliminates the need for the town to maintain, operate and repair the school building and relieve taxpayers from any additional cost or tax burdens for building upkeep
● Enhance the local economy by bringing and drawing people into town
● Keep the Bridgewater Village School a Town-owned building so that it will be eligible for State and Federal grants that are available to repurpose the school. This money is not available for new construction.
● Strengthen our community and village center, allowing for more economic growth and opportunities for residents of all ages (especially young families)
● Increase the likelihood that Bridgewater may obtain “Village Center” designation
● Transform the building into a Sustainable Emergency Shelter for the people of Bridgewater.
● Remediate and add handicapped access to the basement so the town can continue to use the space for town meetings.
● Preserve a fine example of an early 20th Century School Building which has played an important role in the history of education in our Town and Community since 1914 while allowing it to continue enriching lives in our town and community for many more years to come.