On November 8, 2017

Rutland Region News Briefs Nov. 8-14

By Lani Duke

Wastewater release traced to a 50¢ fuse

More than 1 million gallons of untreated sewage flowed into Otter and East creeks Aug. 5. At the time, Department of Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg attributed the release to operator error, but the real culprit was a 50-cent fuse, the Rutland Herald reported. When the fuse failed at 1 a.m. Aug. 5, the system did not register wastewater in some wet wells and did not shut down the pumps. The wastewater rose enough to back up and overflow into East and Otter creeks. The fuses were replaced at 9:30 a.m.

Having the compressor alarm fail on the same circuit as the compressors, a standard code-required wiring in the Rutland plant and every other plant in the state, may be a design flaw, Wennberg wrote in his report. Although Wennberg considered terminating the operator, who is a long-time employee, he did not. He conferred with the operator and a union representative and made the decision to retain and train the operator. Wennberg declined to release the man’s name, in line with the city’s personnel privacy policy.

Wennberg said the department is identifying other areas that have notification and backup weaknesses.

Olympic Pizza gets new ownership

Rutland businessman Chris Bourque purchased Olympic Pizza in September, in partnership with general manager Michael Esposito. Bourque plans to add to the menu but without making any immediate large changes. He plans to remodel and to add beer and wine as well as pizza by the slice and menu specials.

Already in place is a new point-of-sale system which will track the 10 most popular items for the next six months, the Rutland Herald reported. The 10 least popular might eventually be removed from the menu.

Bourque anticipates making the dining area more appealing, adding television, music, and a wider variety of seating possibilities. He anticipates making the outdoor patio area more attractive, with more seating so that customers find eating on-premises more attractive than take-out.

Rutland Town plans Mead’s Falls pocket park

RUTLAND TOWN—Mead’s Falls, site of the earliest colonial settlement in Rutland, will receive wider recognition as it becomes the focus of a pocket park. Otter Creek pours over the falls, also known as the Great Falls, near the railroad overpass and Route 4 in Center Rutland, a locale within Rutland Town. The town has dedicated $5,000 of this year’s budget to engineering or planning the park, to be sited on town-owned land behind the Center Rutland fire station on Route 4, Select Board member Mary Ashcroft told the Rutland Herald.

Establishing a pocket park at the falls is one of the recommendations made during two studies of the Center Rutland-West Rutland Route 4 corridor. The park could be a segment in a larger-reaching park and trail system in that area of Center Rutland, Select Board Chair Josh Terenzini said.

The park could also link to the small railroad museum in the old train station on Depot Lane and to an old marble quarry in West Rutland. The Rutland Town and West Rutland select boards met recently, discussing what they could plan together and visiting both the quarry and the falls.

Gateway project is a community effort

The $483,000 Gateway project, intended to improve aesthetics at Rutland’s primary entry points, is now complete, announced Rutland Redevelopment Authority (RRA) Executive Director Brennan Duffy. In October, the Strongs Avenue corridor work was completed, with 10 new parking spaces, four bump-outs, and 150 feet of new sidewalk. The bump-outs provide street crossings near Ramunto’s Pizza, Gill’s Delicatessen, The Palms restaurant, and Brix Wine Bar where pedestrians have been braving traffic to patronize those establishments.

That gateway is one of three identified in a planning study. One on upper West Street near the Rutland Armory was already beautified, largely through private investment, Duffy told the Rutland Herald. The western gateway, on West Street near the Vermont Farmers Food Center, received new sidewalks and fencing as well as flowering trees about a year ago. A Downtown Transportation Fund (DTF) grant provided more than a third of the $125,000 spent on the West Street improvements.

The Strongs Avenue work was delayed because initial construction bids were high. Parker Excavation was the successful bidder on the reworked plans. About $100,000 of the $332,000 final phase came from a DTF grant. Other financial provision came from Rutland Blooms ($27,000), RRA ($23,000) and Vermont Rail Systems ($2,500). Vermont Rail Systems also agreed to make aesthetic improvements and give money for a fence that would screen its equipment yard on the south side of Strongs Avenue.

Community support has also included labor. Stafford Technical Center students helped in scraping and pressure washing the railroad building. Paul Gallo and his Magic Brush Painting contributed equipment and expertise as volunteers worked with Project Vision to wrap up the building’s paint job over a weekend.

Rutland town scales back new road plan

RUTLAND TOWN—Rutland town has changed its mind on building a road on the west side of Route 7 behind Green Mountain Plaza. It wouldn’t relieve traffic congestion at the entrance of the Green Mountain Shopping Plaza as much as older studies predicted. Instead, the town has asked engineering consultant Evan Detrick of VHB in South Burlington to look at building a link from Farrell Distributors to the dead-end Randbury Road, north of the plaza. Detrick will also look at the possibility of extending running water lines down Randbury Road, with the intent of serving businesses that rely on private wells that the businesses there say have become polluted, wrote the Rutland Herald.

Rutland Town nixes conversion to town manager governance

RUTLAND TOWN—After considering whether to convert to a form of town manager government, Rutland Town’s Select Board decided to continue with its present arrangement, relying on a full-time administrator. The board voted 4-1 Oct 30 to continue with a heavily involved select board, assisted by a town administrator.

The committee system of government can accomplish more than a single full-time person can, Board Chair Josh Terenzini told the Rutland Herald. He said the ideal of public servant leadership is the heart of Rutland Town governance.

The sole ‘nay’ vote against the current arrangement came from Select Board member Mary Ashcroft. She said she believes the town needs a full-time town manager because its population and complexity are both increased.

The Select Board conferred with both retired Killington Town Manager David Lewis, a Rutland Town resident, and Rutland City Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg, who has been both mayor of Rutland City and municipal manager for the town of Ludlow. The town is currently polishing the town administrative assistant job description it will place before the public.

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