BENNINGTON – Southwestern Vermont Health Care announced on Friday that it has finalized an agreement with the town of Bennington for the use and maintenance of playgrounds on the former campus of Southern Vermont College.
The deal covers football and baseball fields and is expected to remain in effect at least until December 1, when it will be reviewed by both sides, SVHC said in a statement. The city will not make any payments to the SVHC for the use of the fields, a spokesperson said.
SVHC bought the 371-acre campus in December with a high bid of $ 4.65 million in an auction in U.S. District Court. The college closed in May 2019.
“This is the start of what we envisioned when we acquired the property,” said Thomas A. Dee, President and CEO of SVHC. “We are happy to work with the city and to make this valuable asset available to the community. It’s a win-win.
Under the agreement, the Town of Bennington Buildings and Lands Department will be responsible for the assessment of the grounds, bleachers and other structures; mowing and pruning; prepare the playing fields; ensure garbage collection; and procurement and portable toilets, SVHC said. In addition, the city will ensure the fields covered by the agreement.
The City will also program the fields using the current City of Bennington Field Application Forms and Procedures.
“With very little additional investment, we are able to make new civic space available to the people of Bennington,” said Dan Monks, deputy general manager and director of planning. “SVHC is a great partner, and we’re happy to help out in this way. “
Additionally, SVHC said it has signed an agreement with the Bennington County Regional Commission to help the health system develop a master plan for the potential long-term development of the campus property.
The campus includes approximately 200 acres under a conservation easement held by the Vermont Land Trust. The Trust and SVHC agreed prior to the purchase to continue this agreement. The mostly forested area is around the base of Mount Anthony and includes hiking trails that have been used by the community.