News Briefs
June 9, 2015

News Briefs: Rutland Region

By Lani Duke

Direct flights to New York metro area coming to Rutland

RUTLAND—Rutland may soon have air connection to White Plains, N.Y. Syracuse-based charter airline Altius has applied to the feds for regular passenger flights between the Clarendon airport and White Plains, which provides easy access to New York City. The flights would utilize nine-passenger, single-engine aircraft. Expectations are for direct flights to begin by summer’s end.

Rutland 911 call center phasing out

RUTLAND—The Rutland call center will no longer be able to answer 911 calls starting July 31. The state will not be installing the new 911 infrastructure there, as current plans call for moving the dispatch office in September. Emergency 911 calls already roll over to other locations if the three operators on duty in Rutland are busy, stated Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn. He stated further that the Vermont State Police already answer 75 percent of the state’s 911 calls, while the remaining 25 percent are split among the current four dispatch centers.

Dispatch centers are expensive. Were the Rutland one to remain open, it would require an operating budget of more than $1.1 million a year, according to the Joint Fiscal Committee of the Legislature. There is no additional expense for continuing to use the consolidated call centers.

Further, Comissioner Flynn believes that new technology, including enhanced 911 and Google Maps, make personal knowledge of local areas obsolete.

“Complete Streets” program now to be considered

RUTLAND—Rutland City Aldermen voted to implement the Complete Streets program, but have no plan for how to do it. Complete Streets is a nationwide ideal for including bicycle and pedestrian passageways in all road projects; in Vermont, law requires documenting how those decisions are made.

In a meeting with the Public Works Committee May 27, participating Aldermen had endorsed the development of a guide like that recently created for Burlington, establishing types of streets along with desired features and improvements for each type. But the Aldermen more recently did nothing more specific than voting on June 1 for the development of an implementation plan. Additional cost seems to be the motivating factor. Spending what some see as unnecessary money for alternative transportation enhancement seems to conflict with meeting the expenses for upgrading the city’s water and sewer system. Proponents take the approach that bike and pedestrian lanes result in safer transportation for all and are also an important marketing tool in attracting visitors and new businesses.

Aldermen moving closer to a solution for Moon Brook

RUTLAND—Aldermen have approved sending survey and assessment teams up Moon Brook to Combination Pond, to evaluate whether the city should buy the property that contains the pond with the intent of removing its dam. Buying the property and removing the dam may be the solution to long-standing conflict between the city and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which had classified Moon Brook as “impaired” due to lack of biodiversity. Although Rutland City owns the dam, it does not own the land around it and would have to acquire easements from the owner to take the dam out, according to city attorney Charles Romeo. Becoming the owner might be the most effective solution.

“The Pit” chained off

RUTLAND—Expect a number of disgruntled downtown business workers. A chain is going across the entrance to the site of the former Hotel Berwick at the corner of Wales and Center streets, locally known as The Pit, restricting its use to Rutland Herald employees. Previously, the open-air parking had been leased to the City, until an April Aldermen’s meeting that ended the contract. Plans for alternative use of the area are taking shape. The Downtown Rutland Partnership already has dibs on using it as a performance space for summer concerts, and the Rutland Herald plans to offer for other events. Loss of surface parking may be the parking deck’s gain.

Old passenger rail car to be given shelter

The vintage Osgood-Bradley passenger train coach #551, now parked next to the Vermont Farmers Food Center on West Street, will finally be sheltered from the elements by this fall. Built in 1913, it traveled through Rutland on a regular basis for 23 years before being removed from service; World War II shortages necessitated its return to active use. Its interior fittings came out so that it could be used as a work and bunk car until its 1963 sale to Green Mountain Railroad, again for use as a passenger coach.

The Vermont Rail System president donated the 51-ton, 61-foot-long car to the City of Rutland on its second decommissioning in 2013, with the city’s promise to build a shelter to protect the car from sun and weather. The Vermont Farmers Food Center offered the car a site when it seemed unlikely to find a  a permanent place to “park.” VFFC leader Greg Cox said the car falls outside his organization’s mission of connecting food producers and consumers, but the old coach represents an important segment of Rutland’s history.

The shelter that will go into place around the train car will utilize seamed metal roofing and timber framing to create an open-air structure designed to resemble a train depot. The Rutland Area Chamber of Commerce estimates materials and labor will cost some $56,000, somewhat less than half of that in labor.

Congratulations

to Haley Bania of West Rutland for qualifying to compete in barrel racing, goat tying, and pole bending at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo. The event takes place June 21 through 27 in Des Moines, Ia.

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