All posts by Joan Devine

City Council Minutes 05-07-2019


MAY 07, 2019


Mayor Jeff Fritz called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in the conference room. Those in attendance were:

Mayor Jeff Fritz                                                  Alderman David Austin

Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly                   City Clerk Joan Devine

Alderman David Small                                    Reporter Andy Kirkaldy

Alderman Mark Koenig                                 Police Chief George Merkel

Alderman William Benton                           Robert Trepanier

Alderman Lowell Bertrand                         Cheryl Brinkman (6:03 p.m.)

WARRANTS: The Warrant totaling $63,622.79 was presented for review and signatures of approval.

MINUTES: Alderman Bertrand moved to approve minutes of the April 23, 2019 meeting. That motion was seconded by Alderman David Austin. The minutes were amended on the first page under ‘ASSESSOR SERVICES AGREEMENT’. In the first sentence the word ‘accomplished’ was replaced with ‘performed’. A vote on the amended minutes showed all voting in favor.

NORTHLANDS JOB CORPS UPDATE: Police Chief George Merkel was present to address his memo to the City Council regarding problems his department was having at Northlands Job Corps. He reported City Manager Chabot and himself met May 3rd with Howard Harmon, Chief Operating Officer for Education and Training Resources (ETR), and Kathy Higgins, Director of Center Operations and Support for ETR, to discuss recent changes at the facility. Kathy Higgins is now the Acting Center Director until a new one is appointed. Following seven corporate reviews last week on every aspect of facility operation, recommendations were made to increase the staff to student ratio, increase residential councilors from 24 to 33, rehabilitate the interior of Dorm 18, apply renewed emphasis on increasing the On-Board Strength (OBS), etc. He advised he will be meeting May 8th with US Department of Labor (DOL) representative Erin McGee, Washington DC Division Chief, regarding security lighting, security cameras and other security measures. Police Chief Merkel advised he was optimistic there will be immediate and positive effects correcting any shortcomings of the recent past.

CITY ORDINANCE REVIEW: Mayor Jeff Fritz advised the review will be deferred until June.

VERGENNES REVOLVING LOAN FUND – BARNUMTOWN DISTRIBUTORS: City Clerk Devine reported the Vergennes Revolving Loan Fund Committee met on April 25th with Charles Huizenga, d/b/a Barnumtown Distribution, LLC, and Eliza Benton, General Manager at Hired Hand. The VRLF has a balance of $102,000 available to loan so the requested amount ($25,000) is in compliance with the VRLF policy. She advised the borrowed money will be used to finish the building construction for a 3-barrel brewery system at Hired Hand that will supply the beer needs of Hired Hand/Antidote and retail sales; it will also provide for an in-house canner and keg washer. The VRLF Committee is recommending the City Council approve a loan contingent on the following: Barnumtown Distribution, LLC will own the $25,000 5-year loan with interest at 4%, the purchase-money security interest will be the in-house canner and keg washer and applicant must have business income insurance coverage. Barnumtown Distribution, LLC will be responsible for all applicable legal and loan closing fees, a $25 application fee, and a loan origination fee of 1% of the loan ($250) that will be deducted from the proceeds. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the loan as stated, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor except Alderman Benton who abstained.

ADOPTION OF SWIMMING POOL RATES: Alderman Mark Koenig announced the work weekend at the pool and the ice rink/skate park was a huge success. He thanked Tim Cooke for organizing the effort (and working 30 hours at it) and merchants such as RK Miles, Aubuchons, Shaw’s and Little City Market who all donated needed supplies and meals for the volunteers. Alderman Lynn Donnelly reported the Recreation Committee has discussed and supports requesting donations from abutting towns so all participants at the pool pay the same fees. Deputy Mayor Fritz advised we can look into that for next year as fees need to be established this evening. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adopt the 2019 swimming pool fees as submitted (the rates remained the same as 2018), seconded by Alderman Small, with all voting in favor. The pool will open June 15th and close August 18th.

WATER QUALITY DAY: Mayor Jeffrey Fritz reported the City has been working towards eliminating our combined sewer overflows at the wastewater treatment plant as directed by the Vermont Clean Water Act. He reported on May 30th, from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., the City will be participating in the Vermont Water Quality Day which is being held statewide. This is an open house event offering an opportunity for interested persons to learn about the operation of the wastewater treatment plant and what we are doing to improve it.

REQUEST TO CLOSE NORTH GREEN STREET: Mayor Jeffrey Fritz advised a request to close North Green Street for the Eat on the Green event being held in September has been made. Alderman David Austin moved to approve the request, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor.

FALLS LIGHTING: Mayor Jeffrey Fritz reported the City paid $2,056 a year for the last 5 years to have the falls lit in multiple colors from June through September. Do we want to continue again this year is the question and, if so, Manager Chabot said it could be paid from the streetlights line item in the budget. Alderman Bill Benton suggested the City look into a long-term setup if we are going to continue doing this in the future. Alderman Austin advised that would be something the Basin Task Force Committee could look into. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve lighting the falls again this year, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor.

EVSE GRANT APPLICATION: A Municipal Resolution is needed for the City’s application for an Electrical Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) grant, advised Mayor Fritz. The document was circulated for signatures of approval and will be recorded as a part of these minutes. The resolution establishes that the City is responsible for 10 percent of the total project cost of $12,435 and that City Manager Chabot will be the authorized official and Mayor Jeff Fritz the alternate.

VERGENNES ECONOMIC CORRIDOR (VEC) UPDATE: Mayor Jeff Fritz reported he has met with our local representatives and will get letters of support for the corridor from them. He advised he and City Manager Chabot will be meeting with the towns of Panton and Ferrisburgh next week. They will also be meeting two times a day, one day a week, for the next three weeks at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. to answer any questions the public may have. Mayor Fritz reported the response has been timid from the merchants.

CHARTER AMENDMENT: Mayor Fritz advised we will look at proposed City Charter amendments in July.

CITY COUNCIL GOALS: Alderman David Small reported he would like to work with Maritime Museum to get a better understanding of the state of the lake. Mayor Fritz advised the working performance evaluations with the City Manager and City Clerk have been completed.

CLASS OF 2019: Mayor Fritz thanked the Class of 2019 for the community service day they held May 2nd. They volunteered their services for the day to organizations throughout the community.

GREEN UP DAY: Alderman David Austin thanked and recognized Tim Cook for his ability to get all the materials donated that were used for the pool building and the ice rink/skate park building project that was completed last weekend. He advised he was proud of his community (20-25 people and donors) that came together for the weekend and completed what would have been a $20,000 to $25,000 project. He advised the rotting backboard wall at the skate park was successfully removed as well as a portion of the chain link fence. Alderman Lowell Bertrand reported low participation on Green Up Day that he attributed to weather and numerous other activities that were going on at the same time. It was noted the volume of cigarette butts on South Water Street and what an eye-sore they were; they are litter. Alderman Lynn Donnelly stated she wanted to remind residents to not rake or blow their cut grass onto the sidewalks and streets; this is a safety issue and against the City ordinances.

ADJOURNMENT: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:05 P.M. Alderman Mark Koenig seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk



City Council Minutes 04-23-2019


APRIL 23, 2019


Mayor Jeff Fritz called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in the conference room.   Item 6e, Northlands Job Corps Update, was added to the agenda. Those in attendance were:

Mayor Jeff Fritz                                               Alderman David Austin

Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly                City Manager Mathew Chabot

Alderman David Small                                City Clerk Joan Devine

Alderman Mark Koenig                              Matthew Crowley

Alderman William Benton                        Julie Baslow

Alderman Lowell Bertrand

VISITORS: City Manager Chabot advised Matt Crowley, one of our Public Works Department employees, was his guest this evening. He stated he invited Matt to this meeting to publicly thank him for the excellent job he performed transforming the prior police station into the beautiful conference room it is today.

WARRANTS: The Warrant totaling $64,932.10 was presented for review and signatures of approval.

MINUTES: Alderman Bertrand moved to approve minutes of the April 9, 2019 meeting. That motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig. The minutes were amended on the first page under ‘RT 22A ALTERNATE TRUCK ROUTE’. In the last sentence the word ‘construct’ was replaced with ‘draft’. A vote on the amended minutes showed all voting in favor.

VERGENNES ECONOMIC CORRIDOR (VEC) RESOLUTION:  A draft resolution in support of the VEC that was prepared by City Manager Chabot was read by the Mayor. The document was circulated for signatures of support and is recorded as part of these minutes.

2019 CITY COUNCIL GOALS: Mayor Fritz advised he prepared a spreadsheet of the City Council’s goals expressed at the last meeting that included Community Prosperity, Environmental Stewardship, Sustainable Infrastructure, and Inclusive, Equitable and Welcoming Community. He stated he would like to leave the goals on the agenda as we move forward so they are always on the forefront.

CITY ORDINANCE REVIEW: Alderman Mark Koenig advised marijuana is now legal so that ordinance may need to be revised or eliminated. City Manager Chabot reported he will get revenue numbers from Chief Merkel for the next meeting. There are other areas of the ordinances that refer to State law that have been repealed so a general clean-up is needed. Alderman Benton advised the ordinances he was working on during his last session are about 80 percent done.

ADDISON COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION UPDATE: Alderman David Austin advised he has a meeting this Thursday at ACEDC and they are also having a retreat at the Basin Harbor Club on May 13th. Discussions at their Board meetings have included the creation of the Economic Corridor and it is being seen as good for the area and not just Vergennes.

ASSESSOR SERVICES AGREEMENT: City Manager Chabot reported he has engaged NEMRC for services related to the grand list that used to be accomplished by former Manager Mel Hawley. The services will also include maintenance to the grand list.

CERTIFICATE – NO APPEAL OR SUIT PENDING: City Manager Chabot advised this Certificate officially closes the 2018 grand list as allowed by statute. Once endorsed, the validity of the grand list shall not be put in issue by any party to any action in any hearing or trial in any court. The Certificate was passed for signatures of the City Council members and will be signed by the Listers.

BIXBY LIBRARY – SERVING ALCOHOL ON CITY PROPERTY: An application was submitted by the Bixby Memorial Free Library Board of Trustees to serve alcohol on their premises at the Bixby Gala scheduled for May 31st. Certificates of educational training and a letter showing the Board of Trustees voted to allow serving of alcohol on that date accompanied the application. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to grant permission to serve alcohol as requested by the Board of Trustees. The motion was seconded by Alderman David Austin with all voting in favor.

BASIN TASK FORCE UPDATE: Alderman David Austin, Chair of the Basin Task Force, reported their Committee had their scheduled walk-thru from the bridge to the City Dock amidst the seasonal flooding. He reported Public Works Supervisor James Larrow had some great ideas including creation of a pathway with millings (ground asphalt). There is not a lot of current in that area so it should last a long time. The group also identified public parking areas and Tim Cowan marked off the high waters. This year their focus and work will be on the Macdonough Drive side of the basin. Alderman Austin advised they will have cost estimates for the City Council in May to cover the work they want to do this year. Freeman French & Freeman, Architects have invited the City to participate in a Charrette they are doing in Burlington free of charge. They will attempt to design a brand/logo for Vergennes. Long-term goals for the Committee will be identified in the future, he stated.

ELECTRIC VEHICLE SUPPLY EQUIPMENT (EVSE) GRANT: City Manager Chabot advised he is writing a grant application for an electric car charger station. The closest one we have in town is at DR Power. He advised the costs are not exorbitant but it will require an underground 110 charge line. Alderman Small inquired how one pays for kilowatts used. Manager Chabot reported a credit card swipe can be used but the fee will be minimal. It’s basically offering a public service.

STUMP DUMP OPENING: City Manager Chabot reported the stump dump will open on Saturday May 4th at 8 a.m. until noon and will remain open each Saturday morning for the month of May. Brush and stumps no larger that 4” will be accepted. The stump dump will be remain open the first Saturday morning of each month through October and is available to Vergennes residents only.

GREEN UP DAY: Alderman Lowell Bertrand, Chairman of Green Up Day, advised May 4th he will be on the City Green from 8 a.m. until noon to disperse bags and gloves to those volunteering to clean up the city. Bags can be picked up at City Hall for those getting an earlier start. He advised filled bags can be left on the side of the road and the Public Works Department will pick them up. City Manager Chabot advised there will also be a work day at Veterans Memorial Park on Saturday May 4th beginning at 9 a.m. until completed.

SPRING CLEANING: Approximately 20 Vergennes Union High School students have been working for the Public Works Department this week helping with the annual spring cleaning, advised Manager Chabot. They are doing a terrific job, he stated, and thanked them.

JOB CORPS UPDATE: Manager Chabot reported there has been a spike in negative behavior at the Northlands Job Corps facility that has been a drain on the Police Department. Since January there have been 25 calls for service; 8 of those calls involved assaults. He advised Chief Merkel met with the administration a few weeks ago to discuss this activity. Again, last Saturday they had a student who was provided alcohol who registered a 0.214 BAC. The behaviors are becoming pervasively bad so this has become a front burner issue, he advised. Chief Merkel wrote the administration in Boston a letter calling attention to the dangerous behavior that, if continued, will result in serious injury or death and civil liability for Northlands Job Corps. Chief Merkel laid out expectations for the trend to cease immediately. Alderman Benton suggested sending a copy of the letter to our senators and representatives. Manager Chabot advised they wanted to work locally first but if there is no change, we will move forward until the behavior stops.

VERGENNES ECONOMIC CORRIDOR UPDATE: Mayor Jeff Fritz reported he met with Senator Ruth Hardy to discuss in depth the proposed bypass. Stantec, Inc. will also provide addition information. She was very supportive of the project as are our representatives, he stated.

CITY CHARTER AMENDMENTS: Mayor Fritz advised we have a few more issues to be addressed in the City Charter before we submit it for public comment. Hopefully this will be done about June. We need to get through the required public hearings in time for the proposed amendments to be presented to the voters in March.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: At 6:15 p.m. Alderman Bertrand moved for an executive session to do evaluations on public employees. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig. The executive session ended at 6:29 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT: Mayor Jeff Fritz declared the meeting adjourned at 6:30 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk