By Lani Duke
Police chief search narrows
Rutland City has come another step closer to selecting a new police chief as five candidates were scheduled to meet with the local search committee and expert panel September 9 and 10 for in-depth interviews. The five men were selected from a field of 42 applicants. David Covell has served the city as acting chief since December 2014, when James Baker left the department’s leadership position to become director of law enforcement operations for the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Washington, D.C. There are hopes to have a new police chief chosen and ready to take command by the end of October.
City pool dog-paddles ahead
Weston & Sampson Engineers, Inc., are signing on as project engineers for Rutland’s City’s new swimming pool, with $20,000 set aside for preliminary design. Total cost is projected at $167,500, if the city passes a bond issue for a new pool. Recreation & Parks director Cindi Wight outlined the initial work as including $8,000 for a hazardous-materials assessment of the buildings that will be demolished to make room for the new pool, and $12,000 for concept plans and drawings. The city already has those moneys in its “pocketbook,” with $17,200 from a White Pool improvement fund, $1,800 from pool project funds in the overall Activities Fund, and $1,000 in the overall budget set aside for repair and maintenance. A new pool would be far more economical to operate than the old White Pool was, with a modern water heating and pump system. And it wouldn’t leak the way the old pool did.
A concern over potential fire danger nearly led to closing the Bennington Furniture Store in Rutland Town until store owner Michael Fiacco and the Department of Fire Safety reached an agreement. The store has been out of compliance for more than a year. A report of a deactivated alarm led to a building inspection from DFS regional manager Butch Sutherland in August 2014. Sutherland found not only the deactivated alarm but lack of a sprinkler system and fire exits.
The expense for bringing the building up to code was as much as half the building’s cost, Fiacco complained, and closing the business for the six weeks necessary to make the installations created a financial hardship. He thought the requirements were not “reasonable.”
Was the fire code requirement “fair”? Sutherland met with Fiacco and granted a variance. Bennington Furniture will not need a sprinkler system but must improve fire safety in stairwells. Interior fire doors must have a 90-minute rating for structural fires, and the owner must add an exit on the second floor.
However, in spite of that agreement, Rutland Town firefighters may not enter the building in case of a fire unless a human life is endangered. There is too much danger to send firefighters in without a sprinkler system.
Dispatch centers closed
On Sept. 2, the emergency dispatchers at the State Police barracks in Rutland worked their last shift. More than 50 state troopers, local police officers and K9 units, fire and rescue crews, and Fish & Wildlife officers saluted the 13 departing workers.
Although the emergency call center doors in Rutland are now locked, the four dispatch stations remain in place for use in a disaster, according to alderman president William Notte.
Calls from Rutland are said to be routed to a single Rutland desk in Rockingham, awaiting completion of new barracks at Williston. At that time, Rutland dispatching switches to Williston, while barracks at Rockingham and Brattleboro merge. This is supposedly a statewide economy measure. Many continue to wonder what the real expense may be in terms of public endangerment.
The powers that be are still promising Dorr Drive will reopen to through traffic at the end of September. The road surface now open must be raised to meet the new bridge surface. Vehicle drivers must be cautious on the gravel and dirt surface, motorcyclists even more so. As backfill is laid in, there are likely to be alternating one-way traffic patterns, signaled by traffic control personnel.
The construction of a coffer dam at Ripley Road bridge is underway. Once in place, the coffer dam will divert the channel so that construction crews can build the pier to support the bridge.
The city is busy looking for another leak, this one at Melrose Avenue and North Street. This time, the city knows where the water is going, but not where it is coming from. It may be groundwater or it may be municipal water.Some property owners report they are removing as much as 3,000 gallons a day from their properties. What do the investigators know? The water appearance is inconsistent. Some appears to show petroleum contamination, but that presence does not help point to the water’s source, which remains subject to speculation.
Finally–the Clover Street catchment basin?
And then there are two buildings on Clover Street, numbers 10 and 12, that the city is considering purchasing and demolishing to make a catchment basin for stormwater retention. The city plans to use a $5,000 design grant and plans to send out a request for proposals. The Public Works Committee will be studying this concern. Would use of those two properties provide enough capacity or not? Finding out may require construction and a subsequent major precipitation event.
A beloved Rutland landmark to be rededicated
The Green Mountain Boy statue in Main Street Park will look out upon an event celebrating the 100th anniversary of its dedication on September 11. The Ann Story chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is setting up a rededication ceremony, with an honor guard from both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign War posts, speakers, and a band.
It’s complicated . . .
Although Rutland’s mystery water leak last March was finally pinpointed, during the week or so that the leak appeared and city crews searched for its cause, some 8.6 million gallons of water were busy submerging into a natural wetlands are next to Alderman’s Kia dealership. It was spilling from a pipe that connected the dealership to the water main, incorrectly installed by a contractor.
Repairs were made to the line paralleling South Main Street but have not been made permanent, according to Rutland City Public Works commissioner Jeff Wennberg. If Alderman’s Kia doesn’t have permanent repairs underway by October 9, the city is prepared to step in, performing the work and billing the dealership. Rutland Town received $22,715 in repayment for the labor and equipment cost in finding the leak, a search and repair operation complicated by the agreement that, although the city owns the water, the town owns the main. Rutland Town then forwarded the payment to the city.
West Rutland-Rutland Town
Route 4 corridor revitalization
A market analysis sees potential for a lawn and garden equipment store, food and beverage store, destination clothing store, and used merchandise store, plus sites to buy food and drink on the Route 4 corridor connecting West Rutland with Rutland Town. Jim Donovan, project manager for Broadreach Planning & Design, presented the analysis, soliciting public comments from the nearly 40 individuals who turned out for a public meeting August 28. Some expressed concern that open space and agricultural land remain part of the landscape along that corridor. To see the report, visit www.broadreachpd.com/west-rutland-rutland-town-smart-growth-connections-plan/. E-mail your comments to [email protected] The next public work session is scheduled for October 8.
The United Way of Rutland County hopes to raise $570,000 in this year’s campaign, fundraising chair Collin Fingon announced at a September 3 kick-off breakfast. That is the same amount United Way raised last year–barely. Breakfast attendees and the organizations they represent have already pledged a total of $149,000, more than a quarter of the campaign goal. United Way funds are distributed among 28 partner agencies that provided service for 22,000 calls in the greater Rutland community last year.