News Briefs
March 8, 2017

Rutland Region News Briefs

Rutland Free Library tightens belt

A $40,000 budget deficit has caused the Rutland Free Library to look for ways to economize in the 2017-2018 budget year. The shortfall is the result of lower interest returns on library endowments, combined with Rutland City Board of Aldermen level funding. The library is not asking for increases from Ira, Mendon, Rutland City, Rutland Town and Tinmouth.

The library is already in a severe financial squeeze. It wrote more than $30,000 in grants to supplement its budget during the previous operating year and plans to put more emphasis on its fundraising efforts. Mini Golf and Tables of Content are its most significant fundraisers, scheduled for alternating years. This year, Mini Golf is scheduled for March 25-26.

Another fundraiser is the Penny Campaign, asking library users to donate a penny for each item they check out. A single penny for each of the 172,000 books, CDs, DVDs and magazines checked out last year would raise $1,720.

Rutland Town eyes transportation improvements

The Rutland Town Select Board hopes to construct a service road on the west side of Route 7, moving local traffic from Route 7 to Holiday Inn Drive, behind the Hampton Inn and Green Mountain Plaza, across Randbury Road to exit near Aldi’s onto Route 7. It would also be an underground utility corridor and contain bicycle and pedestrian paths.

The FY 2017-2018 town highway budget includes $125,000 for a scoping study. It is a first step aligned with the U.S. Route 7 Corridor Management Plan of 2009 which suggested service roads on both sides of Route 7. A build-out analysis in the plan projected 223,000 more square feet of new commercial space in the area by 2030, producing both an economic boom and a traffic boom.

The scoping study will yield information for one or more road alignments and provide information needed to get the necessary easements, Rutland Town Road Commissioner Byron Hathaway said.

A VTrans grant is covering 50 percent of the construction cost for a sidewalk from the Adele Stanley Apartments on Cold River Road to Route 7 at the U-Haul lot.

Other expenditures include a $10,000 VTrans Structures Grant match for replacement of four large culverts and $5,000 toward a possible pocket park on the Simons Avenue side of Otter Creek by the Center Rutland dam and falls. These outlays are nearly offset by $100,000 in the town’s paving budget, with roads needing less than normal paving this year thanks to “aggressive” paving in recent years. The Town highway budget is only 1.33 percent greater than the previous year.

Aldermen exit city pension board meeting

A disagreement over the city attorney’s role in handling pension funds led to the aldermen exiting the pension board meeting at Longfellow School, Feb. 27. The board struggles with how to make up its multi-million-dollar deficit and who should bear a larger portion of budget funding. City Treasurer Wendy Wilton is its chair. The disagreement arose over who should be included in a closed-door meeting. School Board representatives on the committee — Hurley Cavacas, Peter Fagan, Matt Olewnik, Joanne Pencak, and Chris Wideawake — voted not to enter executive session, covered by attorney-client privilege, if the meeting included Rutland City Attorney Charles Romeo.

After a recess the School Board reps agreed to allow Romeo into the meeting, requesting that William Meub, the School Board’s attorney of record, also attend.

The pension board is not intended to be an adversarial competition, pitting individuals representing the city against those representing the school board, Alderman Notte said. The aldermen present — Notte, Sharon Davis, David Allaire, and Scott Tommola — walked out. Gary Donahue, the fifth alderman on the pension board, was not present at the meeting. The city charter gives the president of the board of aldermen the power to appoint five aldermen and five members of the board of school commissioners. They and the city treasurer oversee the retirement plan for all city employees.

Seniors assess previous year

Rutland Town/Cheney Hill Seniors reported the group visited the Woodstock Senior Center and Fair Haven Seniors and took a boat ride on Lake Champlain with lunch. Rutland Town Recreation Director Mike Rowe coordinated a mid-summer cookout at Northwood Park and a holiday meal at Seward’s. Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging Community Services Manager Courtney Anderson and Development and Communications Coordinator Heather Baker coordinated trips through Elders on the Go with transportation on the wheels of MVRTD.

Rutland Town Fire renovating McKinley fire station

The McKinley Ave. fire station in Rutland Town has new flooring and paint plus upgraded electrical service, thanks to help from many fire department members who contributed their time. Among the improvements yet to come is a new well. The current well is poorly sited and produces little potable water. The department is finalizing the necessary permitting to drill a new well onsite.

Also due to come is a replacement for Engine 1, currently being built. A tentative delivery date is set at May 2017.

The membership elected new officers in January. They are Chief Frank Cioffi; Assistant Chief Chris Clark; Assistant Chief Mike Carlson; Captain Tim Clark; Captain Matt Voity; Lieutenant B.J. Hathaway; and Lieutenant Billy Jo Mills.

Clarendon Springs may benefit from designation

CLARENDON—The town of Clarendon plans to apply for Village Center Designation, a designation available only to the traditional historic center of a town that contains one or more civic or commercial buildings, although towns with multiple villages may receive separate village center designations for each. Clarendon Planning Commission Chair Carol Geery reported to the Clarendon Select Board Feb. 13 that she has been working with the Rutland Regional Planning Commission’s GIS mapping division to create proposed maps for the Clarendon Springs application.

Bits and pieces

Hawley’s Florist closed its doors at 29 Center Street Feb. 28 with plans to reopen at 2472 U.S. Route 4 across from Sugar & Spice. March 14 is the date of a grand opening in the new site.

NeighborWorks of Western Vermont recently announced it has acquired 11 properties and completed six projects as of the end of December 2016. The remaining five projects are in progress as part of the Rutland Community Revitalization project.

 

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