KILLINGTON - The Select Board will consider a plan by five
private businessmen to turn Bill's Country Store over to the town
of Killington within the next two years, so it can become a public
welcome center with the advent of federal and state grant
The iconic red barn at the corner of Route 4 east and Route 100
north was purchased by businessmen Chris Karr, Howard Smith, Steve
Durkee, Aris Spanos and Phil Black late last year with the
intention of creating a welcome center and home for the town's
Chamber of Commerce, which is headed up by Karr.
But the partnership, which purchased the store at auction for
$355,000, has recently said plans have changed to include handing
the store over to the town so they can use grant money to develop
Town Manager Seth Webb said Jan. 10 that he intends to present
the Select Board with some ideas for the store within the next
week, following a recent meeting with Town Planner Dick Horner and
two of the businessmen.
In an interview last year, Karr said,"Prime retail is not our
intent at all. We will offer services to meet (travelers) needs.
There are no public restrooms in town and the only welcome center
before Killington is the one in Quechee. We desperately need this
and it gives us a great opportunity to be a conduit to direct
people up the Killington Road where there is a lot more opportunity
for retail of all types."
At a Select Board meeting Jan. 10, Selectman Jim Haff said the
owners want to turn over the property within six weeks to two
years, to which Karr nodded his head confirming this statement.
The plan for the store coincides with the development of a new
streetscape along that stretch of Route 4, some of which the
municipality has already acquired grant funding for.
The plan includes landscaping, designated parking, a park and
ride in front of Base Camp Outfitters and reduced speed limits from
the Sherburne Pass east to Route 100.
According to the town, the streetscape plan is contingent upon
state and federal grant funding of more than $2 million and
$546,000, or $75,000 a year, in local funding. The intent is to
start construction on the first phase of the project in 2014.
Haff asked that the Select Board think of residents and taxpayers
when considering the acquisition of the store and asked for the
public to vote on the idea this March at Town Meeting Day.
"We should put this up for a vote and let voters decide," Haff
Select Board Chairman Chris Bianchi said he supported the store
being a mix of public and private ownership.
Selectman Bernie Rome said "the problem with these things
(public/private partnerships) is that the public can't be a strong
"If it's our job to make Bill's Country Store what it can be, at
worse that's wrong. At best, we need a strong commitment from them
to do what they say they are going to do," Rome continued.
Webb confirmed that the town, and taxpayers, would have to use
town monies to match grant funding.
Rome replied, "I agree with Jim. I know we represent the people.
We can't put them on the hook for money down the road."
Webb said he agreed.
The selectman agreed they wanted to see the plan from the
businessmen before moving forward.
Cristina Kumka at email@example.com