Rutland Town solar site agreement nears
RUTLAND TOWN—An agreement on solar development between Otter Creek Solar and Rutland Town is imminent, Town Administrator Joseph Zingale said, May 1. The Rutland Herald reported Otter Creek Solar 1 and Otter Creek Solar 2 are designed to alleviate residents’ and the town’s objections.
Minor details are all that remain to be resolved, and the developers are ready to give the town a “lump sum” to install the 4.9- and 2.2 megawatt sites, covering 17.5 and 10.8 acres. Both qualify for state renewable energy credits.
Allco Renewable Energy Limited plans a 100-foot tree buffer between the ground-mounted solar photovoltaic arrays and public view, as Zingale described the project, adding that Allco also plans earthen berms to make the project less visible and that project representative Brad Wilson of Ecos Energy of Minneapolis had worked well in reaching agreement between developers and the town.
Allco has plans to build a pair of adjoining projects off Windcrest Road, on a 54.6-acre wooded parcel zoned industrial commercial, backing up on Cold River Road. Submitted in late August, the plans drew attention from state agencies — not only the Agency of Natural Resources and the Department of Public Service, but also the Agency of Agriculture and the Division of Historic Preservation. The Public Service Board and the Division of Historic Preservation objected to Allco’s intended clearcutting most of the land before receiving the PSB’s certificate of public good. Claiming the site “potentially sensitive,” Historic Preservation wrote to the PSB, but those concerns are now resolved. The developer plans a University of Vermont Consulting Archeology Program survey, Wilson said.
He anticipates having a certificate of public good by late summer to early fall, followed soon afterward by land clearing. Construction should begin by late 2017.
Public Works Department update
Rutland City’s Public Works Department has begun replacing a series of “wet taps” on existing mains as it installs a new main on Jackson Avenue. Similar work is scheduled to follow through the summer on sections of East Street, Spellman Terrace, Engrem Avenue, and Park Street. S.U.R. Corporation West, Inc., of Winchester, N.H., is contractor for the $1.3 million project, approved by city voters in March 2016. The Vermont Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund provides the money supply.
Safer with a new sidewalk
RUTLAND TOWN—Residents of the Adele Stanley Apartments, 5 Cold River Road, will have a safer walk as a 700-foot sidewalk on the north side of Cold River Road links the complex to Route 7. Installing a sidewalk is a long-recognized need, often added to proposed development plans in the area. The complex is occupied by individuals and families with children; some of the 65 units are handicapped accessible. The new sidewalk is especially advantageous to residents with limited mobility and schoolchildren, who will no longer have to walk along the roadside to reach Route 7 and the Marble Valley Regional Transit District bus stop. A $70,000 state grant covers half the cost, with construction expected to begin in July or August.
Awards and honors
Rutland Regional Medical Center has named board-certified orthopedic surgeon Deborah A. Hanley, M.D., its 2017 Humanitarian of the Year. She recently completed a medical mission trip to Guatemala, organized by her local church. Working alongside a local physician she delivered patient care, helped feed local families, and helped to build a small home for a family in need. Since her return, she has been soliciting $300 sponsorships that provide a year of schooling and two meals a day for specific Guatemalan children.
Brian Wiles of Forest Dale received appointment to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board. The insurance professional is an avid hunter and fisherman. He also coaches youth hockey in Middlebury.
White Pool bids under bond amount
Russell Construction of Rutland submitted the lowest bid — $2.068 million — to replace the two pools at White Park in Rutland. When the Board of Finance, made up of the mayor, alderman board president, and city treasurer, opened the bids April 26, all but one of the submitting companies turned in figures below the $2.3 million voters approved for the project. Belden Corporation turned in a proposal of $2.232 million; Wright Construction, $2.299 million; and VMS Construction, $2.328 million.
The bids are now in the hands of the recreation superintendent, with the contract award scheduled to be announced at the city finance committee’s next meeting, May 10. Construction could begin this summer and be completed in summer 2018.
Wallingford discusses industrial zoning, recreation insurance
WALLINGFORD—Ninety-three Wallingford residents signed a petition asking the planning commission to reset the South Wallingford industrial zone boundaries to their 1972 outline. When Selectman Bill Brooks read the petition, turned in on April 6, he said he believed the petition was a response to an attempt to amend the South Wallingford industrial zone.
Wallingford Planning Commission member Michael McMahon supplied the Select Board with five decades of Wallingford zoning regulations’ adoptions and amendments, including town industrial zone revisions. McMahon questioned the zoning regulation adopting process in 2009 and 2015. The board tabled accepting the petition until members had time to review the documents McMahon had provided.
The Select Board discussed extending insurance coverage to baseball and softball activities under the town’s Vermont League of Cities and Towns insurance policy. For them to be covered, the activities must be sanctioned by the town and the organizations must not have separate 501(c)(3) status. The board voted unanimously to accept both baseball and softball under the jurisdiction of the recreation committee.
Community good works
Fifty-four sites across Rutland County received building repair, yard work and other spruce-ups, thanks to the efforts of about 400 neighborhood Rutland Evangelical Association of Churches (REACH) volunteers. The group’s leaders began planning this spring’s effort before Christmas, said Dave Lind, president of REACH and senior pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Rutland.
The 14 partnering churches and volunteers worked at 53 sites from Brandon to the north, to Fair Haven to the west and Danby to the south, Lind commented. “We painted 160 fire hydrants and the gazebo,” and did touch up work at the Rutland County Women’s Network & Shelter, Chaffee Art Center, schools, homes of income-limited seniors, and more, he elaborated.
City signs homeless shelter support letter
Children’s bedding, toys, small backpacks, and other items found at campsites frequented by homeless people tell the story that children are sleeping outside, Rev. John M. Longworth of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rutland told the Board of Aldermen’s community and economic development committee, April 24. He was urging Mayor David Allaire to sign a letter encouraging state funding for a family homeless shelter in Rutland. In a story by Alan Keays of VTDigger, the committee agreed with him, unanimously approving the request.
Alderman Ed Larson said one deciding factor in the committee’s decision, for him, was that the proposal referred to clients as “guests,” terminology that “destigmatizes homelessness.” Larson noted that his own childhood lacked a sense of permanence.
The group’s lease on the former Red Cross building across the tracks from the Howe Center in Rutland would put the 8,500-square-foot structure back on the city’s tax rolls while providing shelter for as many as 10 families. Each family would have separate sleeping space while sharing such common areas as kitchen, living, and bathroom facilities.
Rutland Homeless Coalition Executive Director Deborah Hall hopes to have at least a portion of the shelter functioning by the time the upcoming school year begins in September. Some families may be able to move in before all construction is complete.
Highest West Rutland voter turnout approves budget
WEST RUTLAND—More voters turned up to vote on the West Rutland school budget than to either the Town Meeting in March or the first revote in April. About 23 percent of the town’s 1,627 registered voters showed up to pass the school’s $5,569,563 budget, 267-139.
The budget had been larger during the March vote, set at $5.75 million. It resulted in a tie, 159-159; a tie is a failure because the state requires approval by a majority. A recount failed to change the totals. The April revote shifted a few voters to the rejection side of the ballot, 157-153.
Officials said they believe the budget rejection was the result of public misunderstanding of the language on the ballot, mandated by new state regulations. The initial ballot reported a higher equalized per-pupil cost on the new budget, although the total budget cost was lower than that of the previous year.
Parking deck agreement discussed
The Rutland Herald reported Rutland City representatives have been talking to the state’s Department of Buildings and General Facilities about Rutland’s continuing to lease the parking deck on West Street, Mayor David Allaire told the Board of Aldermen, May 1. Erected by the state in 1997 and managed by the state until 2014, the garage failed to make enough money to cover its cost. The city has been leasing the deck since then, hiring LAZ Parking to manage the property.
In addition to having conversations with City Attorney Matt Bloomer, and state representatives, Allaire said there have also been conversations with LAZ staff. He anticipates a contract renewal that may be for as long as five years.
Allaire said he is pleased with the way LAZ has managed the deck, as are most people he has spoken with around town. Although the lease on the deck has already expired, the provisions of the lapsed contract stipulate that the city continue governing the deck until a new contract is approved.
Federal reimbursement for Irene damage coming
A $80,000 payment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conclude that agency’s reimbursement for damages caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, the Rutland Herald reported on Thursday, May 4. Water damaged the city reservoir’s primary and emergency inlets as well as the wastewater facility, requiring more than $1 million in repairs.
The paperwork necessary to release the funds is not yet completed, Mayor David Allaire told the Board of Aldermen, May 1. The Vermont Department of Emergency Management is working with the city to finalize the paperwork. Newly appointed City Attorney Matt Bloomer is working with department heads to facilitate the state’s release of the funds. Allaire said he intends to put reimbursement moneys back into the accounts from which it came.
The severe weather event took the lives of father and son Michael J. Garofano and Michael G. Garofano, who drowned while trying to ascertain the security of the city’s water supply.