Wind: 6 mph
The Valley Reporter's research into what it would take to draw a craft brewery to The Valley makes very clear that it's all about the infrastructure.
What makes a community attractive to a business like a brewery is the availability of water and adequate wastewater disposal options, as well as proximity to delivery systems and adequate parking – someplace where retail might co-exist with brewing.
A look around Waitsfield reveals that the two shopping centers have aging septic systems, one of which was upgraded several years ago and the other which can't be upgraded any further.
State wastewater permits show that the building that formerly housed Egan's Big World has the capacity of handling 4,950 gallons of wastewater a day. That breaks down to 4,500 gallons a day for the restaurant at 30 gallons for each of the 150 seats, 150 gallons a day for 10 restaurant employees and 300 gallons a day for the two-bedroom apartment.
But those permits are from 2002 and using that permitted capacity for brewery effluent would mean reducing the number of restaurant seats, apartment bedrooms or employees.
There is future wastewater treatment potential at Mad River Industrial Park for tenants of the park and the owners of the park will fit up lots according to the needs of tenants.
While the industrial park is an attractive option, it is not centrally located in the pre-existing commercial part of town. It has good access for transportation of goods; the town's zoning allows retail uses as part of other allowed uses and even allows a restaurant as an assessor to another allowed use.
Regardless of whether Waitsfield gets a brewery, it would seem critical for business and property owners in the town to address the sagging state of the available septic capacity in the town. Waitsfield voters have approved a second phase of loan funds for business and property owners to build decentralized wastewater systems in the town.
Using these funds pays down debt the town incurred when engineering a failed "big pipe" municipal wastewater system a decade ago.
But these funds need to be committed by the end of 2014 so the pressure is on. Regardless of whether these funds are used, the issue of infrastructure and businesses in The Valley needs to be addressed.