Home News and Features Montpelier Flood Recovery Commission Created 

Montpelier Flood Recovery Commission Created 

Participants vote on priority items at the third and final flood recovery forum held at Montpelier High School on Sept. 7. From left: Tim Heney, a participant in the meeting, Paul Carnahan, Nancy Reid. Photo by Cassandra Hemenway.
Following possibly the biggest disaster in over a century in central Vermont, and after three flood recovery forums this summer in which over 1,000 people participated, a “Commission for Recovery and Resilience” has been formed by the three bodies that convened the forums: the city of Montpelier, Montpelier Alive, and the Montpelier Foundation.

Two representatives from each convening organization met in September to choose 15 commissioners out of 35 applicants, according to a press release from Montpelier Alive.

“Applicants represented leadership from all corners of the community and from all walks of life,” noted Paul Costello, who moderated the three community forums leading up to the creation of the commission. 

“It was clear to everyone that we needed to have structure, and we needed to have staff, and a deliberative body that would connect to the community with deliberative leadership,” Costello said. “Meanwhile there’s urgency, and the three convening entities agreed it could happen — so that they could convene all these work teams and drive this to the next level.”

Organizers appointed Ben Doyle, president of Preservation Trust of Vermont and a member of the board of the Montpelier Foundation as an “interim chair” until the group is convened and holds an election for a permanent chairperson. “The work of the commission,” Doyle said, “is to catalyze the many good ideas prioritized at those forums, and with continued community engagement, help Montpelier realize its vision for a resilient future.”

According to the release, the commission will be convening leadership groups, experts, and community task forces to advance the key priorities established by the forums. Some of the priorities established include Flood Prevention, Advancing an Adaptive Downtown, Protecting the Wastewater System, Raising Funds for Recovery and Resilience, and Improving Preparedness and the Disaster Alert System. For a more complete description of the priorities established by the forums on “Recovery, Resilience, and the Future of Montpelier” and a description of the commission, go to montpelierstrong.org/public-forum. To volunteer to participate to advance priorities, send an email to msmith@montpelier-vt.org. 

Members of the new commission include:

  • Ben Doyle, Preservation Trust of Vermont, and the Montpelier Foundation
  • Katie Trautz, Montpelier Alive
  • James Rea, Environment and Resilience Consultant
  • Jennifer Hollar, recently retired from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
  • Lauren Hierl, League of Conservation Voters and Montpelier City Council
  • Marc Gwinn, Certified Financial Planner, Edward Jones
  • Nathan Suter, Consultant and Partner in BUILD
  • Ned Swanberg, Floodplain Manager, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Paul Carnahan, Historian
  • Richarda Ericson, Riverine and Conservation Expert
  • Stephanie Smith, Vermont State Hazard Mitigation Officer
  • Peter Walke, Executive Director, Efficiency Vermont
  • Ben Wetherell, Montpelier High School Student
  • Gregg Gossens, Gossens Bachman Architects
“The whole spirit of this process has been let’s add up good work and not work at cross purposes,” Costello said in an interview with The Bridge. “The intent is to bridge all the energy of the community — with the nonprofits with the expertise of people in town — and also connect to city government in a positive way so we all move forward in a way that is necessary.”

Costello also said that he’s stepping away from organizing and managing the community forums and commission. “I’m going to help raise funds for the ongoing resilience work in the community. Anyone who wants to donate to the resilience efforts can contribute to the Montpelier foundation.”