BRATTLEBORO — A plan is afoot to turn part of the Winston Prouty Center for Child Family Development campus into as many as 300 housing units.
“We are moving forward,” said Chloe Learey, executive director of the Winston Prouty Center. “Master planning is really this process of going through all the things that we would want and what is suitable and what is in the landscape and where are the wetlands and how much is it going to cost? “
The plan, which Learey hopes to complete in April, focuses on the main part of campus rather than forested areas. She said the infrastructure is already in place and would need to be upgraded to accommodate the new units.
The design is intended “to build a neighborhood essentially,” Learey said. She called the 300 units “our work number.”
The planning process is estimated at $200,000. Grants and donations are being sought to support the project.
Two secretaries — one from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the other from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources — recently visited the center with the regional director of the United States Department of Agriculture and representatives of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Council. Learey said officials were able to see the site, understand that his group is serious about continuing the project, and asked to help.
Learey noted how Gov. Phil Scott’s administration talks about the need for 5,000 housing units statewide and a housing assessment in Brattleboro pinned the local number at a minimum of 500 units.
“That’s a big part of it, if we can make it happen,” she said. “So we’re just putting one foot in front of the other, doing the master plan, figuring out what’s possible, and then inviting people to help us build it, because we’re going to need all the help we can get.”
Two firms are working on the planning process. Mark Westa at Elan Planning, Design and Landscape Architecture and Kyle Murphy at KaTO Architecture are co-leading the project.
Westa, a landscape architect, was a member of the Prouty Center campus advisory group that looked at long-range planning. Murphy, an architect, designed Founder’s Hall at Burr & Burton Academy in Manchester and works on housing issues in Manchester.
Learey said his group felt a sense of responsibility or “a moral imperative” to take on the project.
“We are willing owners in this process,” she said. “And if we don’t study what’s possible here, it’s like we’re shirking our responsibility. It is an important contribution to our community.
Public meetings are scheduled as part of the overall planning process.