There are big things going on in Barre: They are revamping the downtown and making room for a new state office complex.
"I think what Irene did with this project is really forced the state to look at their priorities and look down the road, look at their future, how they should be locating agencies," Mayor Thom Lauzon said.
He says the upgrades are also shining the spotlight on something he says the city needs.
"We're the only municipality in Vermont with a population of 5,000 or above that doesn't have a grocery store in the city proper," Lauzon said.
Not everyone shares his passion on the issue.
"It doesn't bother me any, but it might be easier for people who cannot get to Price Chopper who live right in Barre," said Ken Rollins of Barre.
But others say it would be much more convenient to have a food store in the downtown.
"Since Grand Union left you have to go to Wal-Mart, Shaw's or Price Chopper. Nothing that you can walk to," said Damien Rousseau of Barre.
The mayor has reached out to smaller food chains and co-ops like Hunger Mountain Co-op, but they are not interested. So, Emily Kaminsky and a group of community volunteers are rallying around their own store they are calling the Granite City Co-op.
"We need to do an organizing market study feasibility study and that requires money," Kaminsky said.
She says they will need $45,000 to get off the ground and that's not even the half of it.
"Things like this cost $1.5-$2 million to capitalize. It is a big project; it needs to be taken seriously. It's a business," Kaminsky said.
She wants to see this market focus on convenience and affordability, which she says are the needs of Barre's niche.
"This needs to be a community project, not a government project, because if the need is truly there the community will support it through membership and donation," Mayor Lauzon said.
So, if all goes according to plan, the co-op will end up in the first floor of what will be City Place. But they are still looking at other locations. They say they would rather see the co-op succeed somewhere else than fail because this location doesn't work out.
Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m. co-op organizers are holding an informational meeting at Currier Park in Barre to answer questions about the project.
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