On August 23, 2017

Rutland Region News Briefs 8/23

By Lani Duke

Rutland Library public space closed for ceiling repair

The Rutland Free Library has temporarily closed the Nella Grimm Fox Room, a popular public meeting space, while repairs are made to its ceiling. A dozen ceiling tiles, totaling an area about 2 feet by 3 feet, fell into the room Aug. 16, Library Director Randal Smathers told the Rutland Herald. In the interview, Smathers said he doubted the ceiling collapse was the result of vandalism but that a contractor and insurance adjustor may contribute more information when they inspect the damage. The only casualties appear to be antique rugs hanging on the wall and the carpet on the floor some 20 feet below. Smathers expects the city’s insurance will cover the repairs to the city-owned property. The Fox Room is frequently in use for a variety of meetings and performances, as often as 70 to 75 times a month.

Originally built as a post office and federal courthouse, the building at the corner of Court and Center streets has been home to the Rutland Free Library since 1935.

Expanded trail system results from city-town collaboration

RUTLAND TOWN—Combining the efforts of Rutland City and Rutland Town is resulting in an improved and more encompassing trail system, officials announced Aug. 17. City Mayor David Allaire and Town Select Board Chair Joshua Terenzini spent 40 minutes walking the trail arrangements that morning.

The new effort marks a resolution to the conflict that arose when the city shut off public access to the city-owned area around its reservoir, citing public safety and water security concerns, especially at the city reservoir’s intake. The new trail alignment detours walkers and their dogs away from city property, placing those activities largely on adjacent Northwoods Park land.

The park now sports 500 feet of a former skid road on town property recently reopened by volunteers, and the city will will open new trails onto the reservoir land this fall. All elements of the new trail system will be ready for use by October, Town Recreation Director Mike Rowe told the Rutland Herald.

Alternative to Route 7 planned

RUTLAND TOWN—The Rutland Town Select Board has signed a contract with design firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., to build a new town road parallel to Route 7.
A meeting to hear local concerns will be held Sept. 17 in the town office. Town officials Susan Schreibman and Byron Hathaway are gathering data and maps that document all existing conditions.

The design consultant will define alternatives and prepare concepts to be presented at an open house and presentation, scheduled for Oct. 18. at the Holiday Inn. Among the considered alternatives will be that of “Do Nothing.”

The Select Board will weigh the alternatives and announce its endorsement in November.

Zoning plan input asked

A $20,000 state municipal planning grant plus $6,000 from the city are funding a fresh look at Rutland City’s zoning bylaws. Since the zoning code was last updated in 2004, Rutland has changed and so have planning trends. Bringing the city zoning document in line with those changes will, hopefully, stimulate economic growth and strengthen residential neighborhoods. During the previous week, planners and consultants had been asking for input from the public, with the expectation that a new document is to be drafted in spring or summer of 2018.

The current city zoning does not clearly address such development and project standards as landscaping and buffers, City Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Tara Kelly told VTDigger. Those topics do come up but permit seekers don’t know what to anticipate without clear standards in place. Kelly’s office is striving to develop a balance which is clear without being onerous, she explained.

Another concern is finding appropriate residential density. Sometimes large homes are split into too many small apartments and housing becomes substandard, with negative impacts on the entire neighborhood. New zoning ordinances would, generally speaking, not affect what has already been done and attempt to correct it. Instead, they set standards for development in the future.

Mayor David Allaire also spoke of balance when he addressed the Board of Aldermen, saying that the city seeks economic growth while protecting neighborhoods. Consultant Juli Beth Hinds, Orion Planning + Design, talked of enabling Rutland’s best future with zoning providing clarity and certainty for participants. Her firm is assisting the Planning Commission in drafting the new zoning document. Public hearings throughout the process will continue to add citizen input. A survey on the city website will ask city residents and landowners which of the city zoning bylaws are or are not working effectively. A city zoning bylaws advisory group, comprising the Planning Commission, the Development Review Board, and Rutland Redevelopment Authority members, will also be taking part. The 801-page document, Zoning Bylaws Complete, is available online in pdf format through the rutlandcity.org website.

Fair 4-H building spruced up

The venerable 4-H building at the Vermont State Fairgrounds became a project itself this summer as 25 4-Hers, under the direction of University of Vermont Extension 4-H Educator Kimberly Griffin, began by washing walls, floors, and stairwells.The young workers then removed plywood walls to open up the ground floor, Griffin told the Rutland Herald.

After the fair, Griffin said, she intends to work with the fair association to work on a more sophisticated renovation, looking to find grant funding to hire a contractor. The building needs upgraded restrooms, foundation work, and new windows, she said.

Sidewalk construction saves money

RUTLAND TOWN—Using town staff to do part of the work and working with subcontractors on an hourly basis is trimming $20,000 off the estimated $75,000 as Rutland Town builds a five-foot-wide sidewalk along Cold River Road, Rutland Town Road Commissioner Byron Hathaway told the Rutland Herald. Extending from the 65-unit Adele Stanley Apartments to Route 7, the sidewalk will provide safer footing to The Bus’s stop. Forty feet of the 700-foot-long expanse is poured concrete, with the rest being the less-expensive asphalt. Landings at 40-foot intervals comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mendon Excavating holds the contract for the project’s earthwork, while Joseph A. Russo Paving of Rutland is laying the asphalt.

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