News Briefs

News Briefs: Rutland Region

By Lani Duke

SVCOA prepares new digs

RUTLAND CITY—The Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging (SVCOA) recently received a $250,000 grant to renovate the 5,000-square-foot, former Maple Terrace assisted living facility and private home at 143 Maple Street into professional office space to serve its 7,096-person client base.

The facility will now provide more accessible and affordable services for elderly clients and their caregivers. Project VISION is on board with the Northwest neighborhood building’s redevelopment in an area that throngs with its target population, according to Joe Kraus, that organization’s chairperson.

“Many of their clients are in walking distance of this building. That wasn’t true of the neighborhood they [SVCOA] were in before,” he said in an interview recorded June 13.

SVCOA has applied for a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Loan to fund the other half of the project’s expected $500,000 price tag. The organization purchased the two-story building for $87,000.

Road repair update

In Wallingford, VTrans planned to mill the western end of Route 140E at the end of the second week of July and start to pave the following Monday.

Bridge 11 on Walker Mountain Road in Clarendon is closed until August. Crews will demolish the current bridge across the Clarendon River, while traffic will detour on Weaver Hill and Teer roads.

Finding firetruck funds

RUTLAND CITY—Two firetrucks come to the end of their operational life next year, Rutland City Fire Chief Michael Jones told the public safety committee July 11. Replacing them would cost $1.7 million, but there is only about $500,000 in the equipment replacement fund.

Other trucks will require replacement in the future. In 2021, a $910,000 truck comes due for replacement. Two more trucks end their operational lifespan in 2024, with a combined price tag of $762,000.

There is so little money available for truck replacement because the amount set aside each year is set by the city charter. To resolve the problem, the City must either change the charter or vote each year to add additional funds via the town meeting process, the aldermanic board President William Notte has explained, adding that some Aldermen are searching for a third way to find additional funding before reaching a decision on how to increase the available monies.

Currently, the fund receives $117,000 a year, fed by a quarter of a cent on the tax rate plus coverage fees from General Electric and the town of Mendon.

Continuing to use a vehicle beyond its expected lifespan may be costly if a part fails and must be fabricated. As it is, one of the two trucks scheduled for replacement next year is already in for repair with a transmission problem.

When the equipment replacement fund contribution became established by charter, officials projected a growing grand list, but the Board of Aldermen reduced the contribution to a constant amount, Mayor Chris Louras explained. Setting the amount by charter is more secure than being merely part of the budget process and subject to unanticipated cuts, Louras has hypothesized.

Alderman Ed Larson has asked City Attorney Charles Romeo to explore whether using city Enterpise Funds is feasible. Another possibility might be adding a minute surcharge on the city water rate, something like “a couple of bucks per user per year,” relying on the number of users in both city and town adding up to some 10,000.

Pool plans progress

RUTLAND CITY—Summer in Rutland likely seems hotter than normal this year, but no streams of children in swimsuits and bath towels barefoot their way to and from cooling off in the city pool at White Park.

Voters approved a new $2.5 million pool on Town Meeting Day. The approval rate was substantive, at a ratio of 3 to 1.

While progress is hard to see this summer, the city is being methodical in the process, keeping in mind that “it’s a 40- to 50-year pool we’re building, so it has to be done right,” according to the City Recreation and Parks Superintendent Cindi Wight in a recent email. Demolition of the old pool is projected to begin this fall, unsuitable fill dirt on the site will be replaced, and floodplain maps will be redrawn before construction begins in the spring.

In the meantime, Rutland City residents may use the Northwood Pool off Post Road in Rutland Town, the Pittsford Town Pool in Pittsford, or try an indoor pool at the Vermont Achievement Center on Park St. in Rutland, the Pico Sports Center in Killington, or the Castleton Aquatic Center at Castleton University. Nearby safe, natural alternatives include Elfin Lake in Wallingford and town-owned Crystal Beach in Castleton, as well as waters of the state park system.

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