Wed, Oct 12, 2011 01:37 PM
Rutland City wants to make sure that the state public service board
keeps in mind that the city has a stake in the planned merger of
Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power. Rutland's
chief interest is in making sure that CVPS jobs remain
In many ways, CVPS has been an ideal business-citizen to Rutland.
Not only does it provide jobs, but it also provides brains and
bodies that help out whenever the community is in need. CVPS staff
went far beyond normal job requirements when tropical storm Irene
inundated our community, and have done so everytime wind and rain
storms have downed trees and power lines over the years. They also
perform valuable volunteer work for many of the organizations that
keep our community running.
The developing company has promised the city that there will be no
layoffs except of "executive officers," that it will create an
operations headquarters in downtown Rutland, with care to retain
redundant staff until natural attrition remove the excess, and
divide lost positions so that neither Rutland nor Chittenden bears
a disproportionate undue share of laid-off workers. Official
recognition of City status as an intervening party allows the City
to write those promises into the official proceedings.
The former Watkins Avenue school in Rutland may become senior
housing if the school district accepts the sole bid on the
property, offered by the Housing Trust of Rutland County. After
renovation, the 1892 building would become six units of affordable
housing for senior folks. The Housing Trust would also erect a new
building on the property, to contain an additional 9 -10 similar
units. The conversion includes rezoning from single- to
multi-family housing for the two-acre property.
Converting historic commercial structures into multi-family housing
is a fairly common practice for the Housing Trust. In the downtown,
it turned the 1906 four-story Tuttle Building, erected to house a
printing and engraving firm, into ground-floor commercial space,
second floor offices, and 13 units of affordable housing. Another
successful conversion is the two-story Kazon building in West
Rutland, erected originally as a clothing factory in 1925, now
containing both office space and apartments. All in all, it lists
some 20 property renovations, 45 buildings and 247 apartments on
One of Rutland's special charms is its densely packed
downtown core. A walk on the sidewalks of its major intersections
takes you past building facades rich in history, some as old as the
Civil War, others that that recall the days of speakeasies and
Prohibition, and a few that try to recapture the ambiance of the
past with new materials. Every so often, cities must decide what of
their streetscape to retain and what to modify as they change to
meet the developing needs of current residents and
Downtown traffic flow
The new Community College of Vermont building, now under
construction, and the continued growth of the downtown farmers
market, semi-weekly during warm weather and weekly (in a different
location but still downtown) during cold weather are among the
determining factors behind a traffic analysis of Wales and Evelyn
streets. Some members of the aldermen's board are excited about the
economic development possibilities that might arise as a result.
Among the proposals are changing Wales Street traffic flow and
redesigning Evelyn Street.
The next step in the process is to bring together a stakeholder
focus group of business owners located on Wales and Evelyn streets.
What are the implications if traffic from West Street to Washington
Street on Wales becomes two-way, resulting in the loss up to 16
parking places? Does increased convenience compensate for lost
parking slots? How about easing access to the transit center's
parking deck? Would allowing two-way traffic on Wales cut back on
short-cutters rabbiting down Court Street?
There are even more questions on possible changes to Evelyn Street,
lying on a pattern created when the town railroad yard lay where
the Shopping Plaza now sits. One plan extends Center Street through
Depot Park. Other possible modifications include more park space
along Evelyn Street or making a four-way intersection to tie Evelyn
to the old Freight Street running behind the plaza.
It used to be the little food stand at Flory's Plaza offered what
were arguably the best hamburgers in town, or the best value for
your money, or the most entertaining for children because you could
pet the goats. But that was back then, and this is now. The Rutland
Regional Planning Commission has been looking into the best way to
take down the decaying buildings there and how best to use the
The site has been under assessment through the federal Brownfields
program, looking at whether or not the site may be contaminated or
maybe it's not contaminated but the community thinks it is. Flory
Plaza seems likely to fall into the second category; it's been
looking neglected for quite a while but that's a perception problem
rather than the presence of any real threats. Findings indicate
there is no need to remove soil around the old fuel tanks and that
any lead or asbestos leavings are miniscule. Rutland Town planning
folks are eager to demolish the existing buildings so that this
highly visible access point to Center Rutland be made more
Development, a ha, is another story. There are a number of people
who each own a financial interest in the property. They are not
expected to agree on any plan for re-development.
Some weeks are incredibly rich in activities and entertainment.
This middle-of-October week is an outstanding example:
Friday, October 14 -- The Paramount Theatre in downtown Rutland
hosts the theatrical staple Of Mice and Men presented by the
Middlebury Actors Workshop. Saturday, October 14 -- Music lovers
will have to choose between the Curbstone Chorus's third annual
show, A Cappella Extravaganza, at Rutland Intermediate School, and
the Christian cross-over group Jars of Clay at The Paramount.
Friday, October 14 -- Indulge yourself gastronomically this week
with the Chocolate Fest & Silent Auction at the Holiday Inn,
sponsored by the Rutland United Methodist Church.
Sunday, October 16 -- America's favorite surrogate daddy, Bill
Cosby, takes over The Paramount stage. What a touchstone he is for
all that's best about our country with his good character and
gentle but pointed humor!
Wednesday, October 19 -- Lewis Black presents In God We Rust, a
more intense barbed variety of humor, also at The Paramount.