News Briefs
May 14, 2015

News Briefts: Rutland Region

Water leak calls for new pipes, valves

RUTLAND—The city’s recent massive water leak may determine the direction most needed for improving the piping infrastructure. As work crews sought the location of the leak, they discovered that numerous valves–some in critical locations–do not close, making locating the source of the leak difficult. That finding is causing the city to reassess its water system upgrade schedule.

Valves alone are expensive, and specialized subcontractors must be hired who have the equipment and skills for such a project. Funding necessary valve replacements may mean rescheduling anticipated pipe replacements.

In the meantime, the city has billed Rutland Town $22,053 for time spent working on the leak, as specified in the intermunicipal maintenance agreement. Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wennberg anticipates that that connection will face another dig-up for more repairs, saying that it was not performed correctly and will fail in the future. Pipes were not braced in place with the standard underground large concrete blocks and may move with changes in water pressure, nor may the connection itself have been assembled correctly.

Before deciding on what course to take, the city must inspect to see what other connections on the two-year-old line may have like defects, a procedure for which Wennberg plans to bill the town. Rutland Town administrator Joe Zingale agrees with that approach and is discussing the plans with Phil Alderman, who owns the dealership the line was built to service.

Town Fair Tire rolls into Rutland

RUTLAND—The former Ladabouche Furniture building at 162 S. Main Street will soon disappear from the Rutland landscape. In its place will rise a new 8,880-square-foot building to house Town Fair Tire, a chain of more than 80 outlets across the Northeast. Plans approved by the Development Review Board call for retaining the carriage barn behind the building, adding a fire hydrant at the location, and adjusting the curb cuts and traffic signal. According to the site plan approved earlier this year by the Development Review Board, the store will employ 12 to 15 people, with a manager and assistant manager brought in from existing stores and the balance of the staff hired locally. Town Fair Tire is expected to open for business sometime this fall.

Mall owner appeals BJ’s permit

RUTLAND TOWN—Another planned development is facing opposition, though. Diamond Run Mall owner BAI Rutland has appealed the District 1 Environmental Commission’s finding that a BJ’s Wholesale Club fits within new anti-sprawl regulations. The issue now is on its way to Environmental Court. Some question why BAI continues to oppose the development, slated for vacant land adjacent to the Holiday Inn and across Route 7 from the mall. Conventional wisdom is that adding a competitor in the neighborhood brings more travelers to a commercial enterprise’s doorstep and both benefit. The commission ruled that the planned development creates less sprawl than the original previously approved proposal.

Downtown Gateway Study releases report

RUTLAND—After a year of work, the Downtown Gateway Study reported its recommendations to the city and regional planning commissions. Consultant landscape architect Patrick Olstad of LandWorks, based in Middlebury, advised that narrowing Strongs Avenue with green strips, trees, and better pedestrian sidewalks would give a better entrance impression.

He also suggested West Street improvements, including black metal bar fencing to replace chain link fencing on West Street and replacing on-street parking with more green features, as the parking on West Street is underutilized. Further, he recommended closing off the intersection of West and Forest Street, explaining that the railroad crossing creates poor visibility and makes turning hazardous. Increasing the attractiveness of entrance gateways could take the form of visually pleasing signage, historic streetlamp styles, better sidewalk connections, and signaled crosswalks on Route 7.

Olstad cautioned that he had presented a preliminary study. Feedback and refinements must come before taking action.

Path construction delayed

RUTLAND—Construction has been delayed this year for segment four of the Creek Path, plotted to run from the Meadow Street playground to Dorr Drive Bridge. Some right-of-way acquisitions have yet to take place. Hopefully, construction will take place during 2016.

In the interim, the Rutland Regional Planning Commission has completed a contract negotiation with Weston & Sampson of Waterbury to perform engineering, design and bid services on the fifth segment of the project, from Dorr Drive Bridge to the College of St. Joseph. The design may include a boardwalk to carry pedestrians for about 300 feet beyond the bridge, a stretch where people may want to stop to enjoy the view or maybe drop a fishing line in the water.

Approaching the college, the path will split. Pedestrians will continue on a sidewalk that connects to another sidewalk from Ripley Bridge; cyclists will turn onto the road to follow shared-use markings.

Section three remains undone, hopefully awaiting the appearance of a donor to finance building a bridge over the creek.

Local residents and businesses honored

Creative Workforce Solutions–an initiative of VocRehab VT of the Agency of Human Services that supports Vermont companies and organizations ready to hire qualified workers with disabilities–recently honored businesses and individuals at its April 22 Business Recognition Breakfast. The agency also gave the Ann Holmblad Memorial Award to Nanci Gordon for selfless dedication to individuals with disabilities and the Rutland community; to Chamber CEO Tom Donahue for exceptional service to people with barriers, providing opportunities and personal support; and to its own business account manager Gary Jaquith in honor of his upcoming retirement.

New interim fire chief named

Twenty-nine-year Rutland City fire department veteran and deputy chief James Miles will lead the city’s firefighters as acting chief, at least for the time being, while the city looks to fill the permanent position. Mayor Chris Louras said he plans for the interim chief to serve a few years while someone in the department becomes ready to assume the chief role for a longer period.

Congratulations

to Vermont Sport & Fitness Club on its recent renovation. Some 3,200 square feet of the facility have been renovated to include a dedicated spinning room and facilities for high-intensity training.

to Loyalty Day parade organizers, who brought together more than 80 groups for the parade on a summer-like day May 3. Some say it marks the beginning of summer in Rutland.

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