by Mickey Smith
Johnson Community & Economic Development Coordinator Lea Kilvadyova said the Town of Johnson is moving forward with providing assistance to help bring a grocery store to Johnson.
Kilvadyova said the town applied for a federally-sponsored Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) last month in the amount of $500,000. She said a decision is expected in mid-November, if approved, the town would act as a pass through for the prospective grocer and will be distributed in the form of a loan.
In total, an estimated $900,000 is needed for the equipment for the space, including freezers, shelving units, deli equipment, cashiers, etc. Kilvadyova said the grocer has lined up other resources to complement the CDBG funding.
Mike Comeau, owner of grocery stores in Waterbury and Richmond, has expressed an interest in utilizing the former Grand Union space for a grocery store. According to Kilvadyova, the lot owner, Burlington’s Pomerleau Real Estate, has agreed to make interior and exterior renovations to modernize the store. She said there are also plans to reduce the potential of water infiltration into the building. Past flooding of the store space played into the decision of former occupants C&S Wholesale Grocers to vacate the spot last spring after storm waters dumped nearly a foot of water into the store.
Kilvadyova said the town received letters of support for the project from several community organizations and farms, testifying to the importance of the store to the community. She said the town also received letters from their legislative delegation, Senator Rich Westman, Representative Mark Woodward and Representative Linda Martin.