By Lani Duke
Computerizing public works data
Rutland City has spent some $11 million in the past ten years in combined sewer overflow (CSO) projects, Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wennberg told the City Public Works Committee April 5. The most recent project was the Northwest Neighborhood Improvement Program. In the planning stage is a pair of projects bearing a multi-million price tag that are the result of a state Section 1272 enforcement order affecting Moon Brook and its watershed.
The city needs, however, a computerized system to detail the entire storm and wastewater system, Wennberg said. Although the Environmental Protection Agency has a model program that communities can acquire without charge, the data input must come from each community itself. A complete hydrologic and hydraulic model of the wastewater collection system should precede any more projects, he explained. Having the best information available would enable the most informed and cost effective decisions, Wennberg projected, “rather than educated guesswork.”
Burlington recently implemented a computerized CSO model for about $430,000. The cost for one to serve Rutland would be about $200,000, with a maximum available grant up to $150,000. Alderman Chris Ettori moved that the Public Works Committee recommend that the Board of Aldermen authorize Mayor Chris Louras to seek proposals from qualified individuals and firms to create such a computer-based model.
Construction, funding delay CSJ program accreditation
Prospective enrollees in the Master of Medical Science-Physician Assistant Studies program face disappointment, as the school has tabled the program and will be refunding their deposits. The program had planned to matriculate 25 students in June 2016.
Construction delays and cost overruns bear the blame for the crunch, and the college will not ask for accreditation in the immediate future, according to CSJ Board of Trustees chair Larry Jensen.
The curriculum would have been the first in Vermont, filling a growing need in the primary care field. It was to have been housed some eight miles away from the main CSJ campus, in the original Vermont Marble Company headquarters building, a gift to the college from international mineral company Omya, which acquired the Vermont Marble complex in 1977.
“Oldest house in Rutland” may be in line for demolition
The Rutland City Architectural Review Committee (ARC) has been discussing what may become of the Hale House, 38 West Street, during its April 6 meeting. Perched on the corner of West and Court streets, the small white house has been described by some as the oldest surviving single building in Rutland. It formerly housed the Good Cents Store, a thrift store operated by BROC (Bennington-Rutland Opportunity Council).
The house, an early style identified by the state as a “Cape Cod,” occupies a corner of the parcel belonging to Grace Congregational Church. The church’s council has discussed tearing down the structure to leave a green space that could be used for snow storage in winter, thereby saving the church snow removal costs. Bids to remove the Hale House and remediate asbestos total about $35,000. Although selling just the building and removing it seem desirable, they come with a higher cost, more than $50,000.
Architect and committee member Alvin Figiel speculated that the building’s original frame is most likely still intact. Both Figiel and fellow architect and committee member Ed Clark both oppose tearing down the building because it has historic significance. Clark noted that the property’s condition is the result of the applicant’s actions. He said there must be another solution.
It is in the interest of the ARC “to preserve the historic fabric of the Downtown,” Figiel added, saying that too many 18th century buildings have already been demolished in Rutland and gaining a site on which to store snow is not a sufficiently compelling reason to take down this element of Rutland heritage.
Freeman countered with the argument that the congregation supports the church council decision to demolish the building, and that church members are also taxpayers. (The city received property taxes from the building while BROC had the lease on it, but the expiration of that lease made the building non-taxable.)
The parking lot has value for the community because it is used by both Rutland Mental Health and the Rutland Free Library. Retaining the building interferes with the church’s ability to balance its building.
After further discussion of possible uses for the building, ARC moved to deny the church’s request to demolish the building, 3-2. Dave Cooper and Brennan Duffy cast the dissenting votes. That decision is to be sent to the Development Review Board.
Vintage Depot closing
Vintage Depot, 94 Merchants Row, Rutland, is closing its doors. Set up in the former Book King space, it has rented booth space to various antiques and collectibles dealers. Owner Michael Phelps pointed to sparse winter sales and sporadic open hours as instrumental in the store’s demise. Some of the items are appearing on eBay and craigslist online sale lists. Downtown Rutland Partnership Executive Director Mike Coppinger is interviewing potential tenants for the 2,000-square-foot space.
The up beat
The Trust Company of Vermont recently acquired the two-story brick building at 23 Court St., Rutland. Seasoned trust professionals Bonnie McLellan, Jeanne Gilbert, and Steve Singiser are staffing the office, aided by new hires Christine Diekel and Stephanie Whitehorne.
Seventy-three students from Stafford Technical Center competed in the recent SkillsUSA competition. They brought home 13 gold medals, 53 medals in all. The gold medalists are going to the national conference in Louisville, Ky., June 20-24.
Delta Kappa Gamma Society, an honor society of female educators, raised more than $10,000 for the Community Cupboard with the 10th annual Soup Bowls for Hunger, held March 18 at Rutland High. More than 375 individuals attended to sit with their neighbors, eat soup from a handmade bowl, take chances on a raffle, bid on a silent auction,and listen to Dan Graves play piano. Thanks to the 19 professional potters and the students, who made nearly 500 bowls, and to DKG members and their families, who glazed more than 200 of the bowls. Also thanks to RHS kitchen staff led by Marty Irion, Charlene Flanders, and Sherry DeLong.
Rutland Town considers rain garden
RUTLAND TOWN—Town officials have applied for a $17,000 Agency of Natural Resources grant that would evaluate the suitability of Rutland Town Elementary’s parking lot for a watershed improvement project. Nancy McGuire, district manager for the Rutland Natural Resources Conservation District, worked with the town on the grant application.
Technically labeled a “green stormwater infrastructure” device, also known popularly as a rain garden, this landscape feature would ease the town’s stormwater issue by absorbing and cleansing rainwater before it filters back into the groundwater. The numerous impervious surfaces at the school—roofs, play and athletic areas, and parking lots—accumulate debris and pollutants that are carried by runoff directly into the water supply.
Catchbasins, currently in use at the school, are ineffective, McGuire observed. During an extremely heavy rain, stormwater runs into the catchbasins, then into the combined sewer and overflows into East Creek. The rain garden would hold that water out of East Creek.
Byron Hathaway, Rutland Town road commissioner, intends to reconfigure the school’s parking lot in a manner that would ease traffic during student pickup and dropoff times. Hathaway’s project would not use the engineering grant funds, scheduled for award in May. Another grant would be needed after the engineering study, McGuire commented; the second grant would be for the rain garden’s installation.