BRIDGEWATER — With a population of more than 6,000 people, the only grocery store in Bridgewater’s town limits is Bridgewater Foods. The other nearest commercial grocer is nearly 5 miles and a 10-minute drive away.
That could change, however.
During Bridgewater’s Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Town Manager Jay Litten announced the town was awarded funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Development Program to conduct a grocery feasibility study.
The study will identify options for grocery stores and determine whether opening one is possible. The study is funded 100% from the federal government through the $20,000 grant.
“We hope the study will be of some benefit to us, not just in terms of seeing whether we can fulfill our resident need for a grocery store, but also in terms of data collection and general information that we will use in economic development,” Litten said.
The town began looking into conducting a feasibility study in February after town staff heard from several grocers, who asked the town to complete a study before committing to come to the area.
On Feb. 9, Town Council adopted a resolution to allow the town to apply for grant funding to conduct the study. The resolution stated a grocery store will benefit businesses, establishments and residents in and around Bridgewater.
On Tuesday, council members approved a second resolution to allow the town to go through with the study. The resolution states the project will be “critical to determine the potential for new and increased jobs in the service area of the town of Bridgewater and Rockingham County.”
The resolution was approved in a 6-0 vote. Councilman Steven Schofield was absent.
Town Council also approved a resolution to appropriate funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act to go toward upcoming expenditures for water and sewer infrastructure.
Litten said the infrastructure projects included water line replacements for Barbee Street, elevator shaft repairs in the town’s water treatment plant, the installation of a new water line from the water treatment plant to Holly Hill Drive and design work for an artificial wetland at Oakdale Park.
The Barbee Street water line replacement, which will run from Green Street to Pope Street, will cost an estimated $295,000.
To install a 12-inch water line from the water treatment plant to Holly Hill Drive will cost $50,000.
Repairing the water treatment plant’s elevator shaft, which was damaged in the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck Central Virginia in 2011, will cost $9,500.
Engineering design work for an artificial wetland to be constructed on unused property in Oakdale Park will cost roughly $80,000. The wetland is necessary to satisfy state and federal water quality regulations, according to the approved resolution.