Category Archives: City News

City Council Minutes 06-13-2017

VERGENNES CITY COUNCIL

VERGENNES CITY COUNCIL

JUNE 13, 2017

MINUTES

Mayor Michael Daniels called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at Vergennes Falls Park for the purpose of siting a location for so-called Harmony Park and discuss other improvements. Those in attendance were:

Mayor Michael Daniels City Manager Mel Hawley Alderman Lynn Donnelly City Clerk Joan Devine

Alderman Mathew Chabot Betsy Rippner

Alderman Mark Koenig Christine Bradford

Alderman Lowell Bertrand Mathew Daniels

Alderman Jeffrey Fritz Kathy Rossier (5:40 p.m.)

 

City Manager Hawley gave a brief history of Vergennes Falls Park. Those in attendance walked the roadway visually locating powerlines, flat areas, etc. He advised the park was developed in the early 1980s and required a State Land Use Permit. Green Mountain Power Corporation deeded land to the City prior to that time so the wastewater treatment plant could be built, retaining a 50’ right-of-way on both sides of their existing high-voltage power lines. Much of the property is in the flood hazard area which is at elevation 104 feet, he advised. He explained that any land development has to go through site plan review of the Development Review Board and, depending on the project, could require an amendment to the State Land Use Permit. A specific plan is required for site plan review. The meeting recessed at 6 p.m. so the meeting could reconvene at the Vergennes Fire Station on Green Street.

At 6:10 p.m. Mayor Daniels reconvened the meeting at the Vergennes Fire Station. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Additional attendees were Michelle Eckels, Shannon Haggett, Sarah Hale and her son, Jonathan Kidde, Heather Kidde, and Sarah Stroup and her daughter. There were no amendments to the agenda. Noting item 5a on the agenda, Alderman Donnelly disclosed she is Chair of the Bixby Gala Committee and Alderman Fritz advised his spouse is one of the Board of Trustees.

 

MINUTES: Alderman Donnelly moved to approve the minutes of May 23, 2017. The motion was seconded by Alderman Koenig. On the second page ‘Matt Koenig’ was corrected to ‘Mark Koenig’. A vote on the motion with the correction showed all in favor.

WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $107,735.94 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.

BIXBY MEMORIAL FREE LIBRARY – BIXBY GALA: An application for an Art Gallery, Book Store or Library Serving Permit was submitted by Bixby Memorial Free Library. City Manager Hawley advised this item of business relates to Chapter 12 of the City ordinances that states there is to be no alcohol on City property unless a permit has been issued. Their Board of Trustees has submitted a copy of minutes of their meeting authorizing this event. The City Council has the authority to approve, with or without conditions, or deny the request. Alderman Bertrand moved to approve the request, seconded by Alderman Chabot, with all voting in favor.

VERGENNES FALLS PARK – HARMONY PARK: City Manager Hawley reported he brought the concept of locating the so-called Harmony Park at Vergennes Falls Park to the Development Review Board. A public hearing will be required upon their receipt of a complete application which must include a detailed site plan. He is willing to help, he advised, but a specific project needs to be determined that would include all that is to be installed; Harmony Park, a boathouse, a pavilion, Frisbee golf, etc. Alderman Matt Chabot stated that he recommends a new location for Harmony Park due to the time constraints to get the project done to celebrate Vergennes Rotary’s 80th Anniversary. Alderman Koenig advised he is good with most of the suggestions. Alderman Donnelly agreed but felt a leader was needed; she wants to see the basin developed. Alderman Bertrand supported a pavilion but was not sure about a boathouse and was concerned about Frisbee golf due to safety. Alderman Fritz agreed with Alderman Chabot regarding relocation of Harmony Park; he felt it was a great project and the Bixby Library could be a great spot. He also stated he loves the basin area and would love to see improvements done there. City Manager Hawley advised he can speak with District Environmental Coordinator Geoff Green. Everyone needs to understand challenges of the flood plain, right-of-way issues and the permitting process, he advised. The Development Review Board will be looking at issues of sound, a maintenance plan, etc. Mayor Daniels advised a 16’ – 20’ circle of space is needed for Harmony Park.

SAM FISHMAN MEMORIAL POOL: City Manager Hawley report the pool opened on June 12th for swim team practice and use by the Vergennes Elementary School in their physical education program. He thanked Alderman Koenig and Michelle Eckels for their many hours of volunteer work that allowed that to happen. He advised the swim team emailed all their families advising of a clean-up day at the pool and they had a great turn-out; he read the names of the volunteers and thanked them for their participation. He went on to report that our wastewater treatment plant operator, Rick Chaput, has spent a lot of time at the pool as well. Mr. Chaput ran a water treatment system while he served in the Marines and will be responsible for water quality at the pool, he advised. Overall, the pool is in better shape, he stated. Manager Hawley advised 15 lifeguards and 4 swim team coaches have been hired. All season passes will be bought at City Hall this year. There are three entities that also pay to use the pool; Mary Johnson Children’s Program, ISSP and Vergennes Thundercats Summer Recreation Program. He reminded the City Council that the pool budget that was adopted includes no capital expenses. Mayor Daniels announced he and City Manager Hawley are looking at ways to raise funds. A Citizens Advisory Council will be starting that will include a pedestrian safety team and a pool advisory committee who will have a brief mission statement, a list of needs as well as a list of wants. Hopefully, they will be able to set up the means where people can donate to functions to off-set the costs. Mayor Daniels thanked the swim team, parents, Public Works Department and the City Council for their involvement at the pool. Michelle Eckels reported Matt DuBlois, the elementary school principal, also put the word out regarding clean-up day at the pool; cumulatively 165 hours were donated. Volunteerism is great, she advised, but a bigger part is needed. Volunteerism needs to come from the City and not an organization that pays to use the pool, she stated. Jonathan Kidde advised he agrees with a volunteer day but asked why the City does not pay to have this work done. City Manager Hawley advised he did not categorize the clean-up day as a swim team event; he looked at it seeing a community coming together to meet a need. He pointed out that the pool operates on a budget of $55,000 a season which does not include numerous hours of administrative time from City Hall staff, hours put in by the Public Works Department and our wastewater treatment plant operators. He went on to explain how the City inherited the pool 8 years ago from the Vergennes Graded School District prior to their dissolution. Pool revenues as well as the expenses were explained in detail by City Manager Hawley. Jonathan Kidde felt the cost of running the pool should come from the general fund just like maintenance to our roads and sidewalks. Mayor Daniels advised the City Council is trying to keep the tax rate economically affordable. Sarah Stroup pled with the City Council to look at other ways to be economically responsible; she felt our assets need to be protected. She advised young families involved with the swim team are visiting our city and spending a lot of money here. She felt the City should make efforts to provide for the public good. Sarah’s daughter read a statement expressing her support for the pool.

ZONING ADMIINISTRATOR APPOINTMENT: Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett advised the Planning Commission met and unanimously supported the re-appointment of Mel Hawley as the City’s Zoning Administrator for another 3-year term. Alderman Bertrand moved to make that appointment, seconded by Alderman Fritz, with all voting in favor.

APPOINTMENT OF ACRPC DELEGATES AND ALTERNATES: City Manager Hawley advised Shannon Haggett and he have been serving as delegates to Addison County Regional Planning Commission along with alternate delegates Cheryl Brinkman and Bill Benton. He advised Bill Benton does not wish to continue serving once his term expires on June 30. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to appoint Mel Hawley and Shannon Haggett as delegates to the ACRPC and Cheryl Brinkman as an alternate. Alderman Lynn Donnelly seconded the motion with all voting in favor. Manager Hawley advised he is hopeful to get another alternate possibly from the Planning Commission to serve.

CITY GREEN TREE REMOVAL: City Manager Hawley advised he met with Chris Olson, the county forester, regarding five trees on the City Green. He advised he thought two trees on the back of the park were diseased but Mr. Olsen found none to be unhealthy. He has been taught that dead limbs are a sign of age and they can be removed. Some trimming can occur on the other trees, he advised. Alderman Lynn Donnelly recommended leaving the trees as they are or just trim them to let in more sunlight for the lawn.

PROPOSED FY2018 SEWER DEPARTMENT BUDGET: City Manager Hawley reported there are six more years of a $123,402 bond payments as well as compliance with the State’s combine sewer overflow policy that needs to be addressed within the next twenty years. He pointed out that his proposed budget is $18,000 more than revenues at the current rate but feels we can possibly go one more year without a rate increase by using up the current fund balance. A rate adjustment can be made at any quarter, he advised, and could be looked at in December. Alderman Donnelly stated she would prefer no increase in the winter when people are trying to keep up with heating costs. City Manager Hawley reported the wastewater treatment plant operator has made a lot of improvements at the plant. Any capital expenditures will be charged to the sewer capital fund.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised the administration budget is on budget, the police department is under budget, and the recent paving will change all the public works’ numbers. The general and recycling budgets are fine but the sewer department budget is expected to go over by 4 to 5 percent, he advised. VV II Housing Associates’ appeal to the State has a decision. The 5 percent of rental income that is put in a reserve fund and called an expense was honored last year for their appeal but this year’s hearing officer gave them a higher percentage so the assessed value of the property was reduced. He recommended accepting that decision and moving on. The tennis courts have all been resurfaced including lines for pickleball courts. It is expected that the docks at the basin will go in this week, he advised.

ADJOURNMENT: At 7:30 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk

City Manager Mel Hawley Alderman Lynn Donnelly City Clerk Joan Devine

Alderman Mathew Chabot Betsy Rippner

Alderman Mark Koenig Christine Bradford

Alderman Lowell Bertrand Mathew Daniels

Alderman Jeffrey Fritz Kathy Rossier (5:40 p.m.)

 

City Manager Hawley gave a brief history of Vergennes Falls Park. Those in attendance walked the roadway visually locating powerlines, flat areas, etc. He advised the park was developed in the early 1980s and required a State Land Use Permit. Green Mountain Power Corporation deeded land to the City prior to that time so the wastewater treatment plant could be built, retaining a 50’ right-of-way on both sides of their existing high-voltage power lines. Much of the property is in the flood hazard area which is at elevation 104 feet, he advised. He explained that any land development has to go through site plan review of the Development Review Board and, depending on the project, could require an amendment to the State Land Use Permit. A specific plan is required for site plan review. The meeting recessed at 6 p.m. so the meeting could reconvene at the Vergennes Fire Station on Green Street.

At 6:10 p.m. Mayor Daniels reconvened the meeting at the Vergennes Fire Station. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Additional attendees were Michelle Eckels, Shannon Haggett, Sarah Hale and her son, Jonathan Kidde, Heather Kidde, and Sarah Stroup and her daughter. There were no amendments to the agenda. Noting item 5a on the agenda, Alderman Donnelly disclosed she is Chair of the Bixby Gala Committee and Alderman Fritz advised his spouse is one of the Board of Trustees.

 

MINUTES: Alderman Donnelly moved to approve the minutes of May 23, 2017. The motion was seconded by Alderman Koenig. On the second page ‘Matt Koenig’ was corrected to ‘Mark Koenig’. A vote on the motion with the correction showed all in favor.

WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $107,735.94 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.

BIXBY MEMORIAL FREE LIBRARY – BIXBY GALA: An application for an Art Gallery, Book Store or Library Serving Permit was submitted by Bixby Memorial Free Library. City Manager Hawley advised this item of business relates to Chapter 12 of the City ordinances that states there is to be no alcohol on City property unless a permit has been issued. Their Board of Trustees has submitted a copy of minutes of their meeting authorizing this event. The City Council has the authority to approve, with or without conditions, or deny the request. Alderman Bertrand moved to approve the request, seconded by Alderman Chabot, with all voting in favor.

VERGENNES FALLS PARK – HARMONY PARK: City Manager Hawley reported he brought the concept of locating the so-called Harmony Park at Vergennes Falls Park to the Development Review Board. A public hearing will be required upon their receipt of a complete application which must include a detailed site plan. He is willing to help, he advised, but a specific project needs to be determined that would include all that is to be installed; Harmony Park, a boathouse, a pavilion, Frisbee golf, etc. Alderman Matt Chabot stated that he recommends a new location for Harmony Park due to the time constraints to get the project done to celebrate Vergennes Rotary’s 80th Anniversary. Alderman Koenig advised he is good with most of the suggestions. Alderman Donnelly agreed but felt a leader was needed; she wants to see the basin developed. Alderman Bertrand supported a pavilion but was not sure about a boathouse and was concerned about Frisbee golf due to safety. Alderman Fritz agreed with Alderman Chabot regarding relocation of Harmony Park; he felt it was a great project and the Bixby Library could be a great spot. He also stated he loves the basin area and would love to see improvements done there. City Manager Hawley advised he can speak with District Environmental Coordinator Geoff Green. Everyone needs to understand challenges of the flood plain, right-of-way issues and the permitting process, he advised. The Development Review Board will be looking at issues of sound, a maintenance plan, etc. Mayor Daniels advised a 16’ – 20’ circle of space is needed for Harmony Park.

SAM FISHMAN MEMORIAL POOL: City Manager Hawley report the pool opened on June 12th for swim team practice and use by the Vergennes Elementary School in their physical education program. He thanked Alderman Koenig and Michelle Eckels for their many hours of volunteer work that allowed that to happen. He advised the swim team emailed all their families advising of a clean-up day at the pool and they had a great turn-out; he read the names of the volunteers and thanked them for their participation. He went on to report that our wastewater treatment plant operator, Rick Chaput, has spent a lot of time at the pool as well. Mr. Chaput ran a water treatment system while he served in the Marines and will be responsible for water quality at the pool, he advised. Overall, the pool is in better shape, he stated. Manager Hawley advised 15 lifeguards and 4 swim team coaches have been hired. All season passes will be bought at City Hall this year. There are three entities that also pay to use the pool; Mary Johnson Children’s Program, ISSP and Vergennes Thundercats Summer Recreation Program. He reminded the City Council that the pool budget that was adopted includes no capital expenses. Mayor Daniels announced he and City Manager Hawley are looking at ways to raise funds. A Citizens Advisory Council will be starting that will include a pedestrian safety team and a pool advisory committee who will have a brief mission statement, a list of needs as well as a list of wants. Hopefully, they will be able to set up the means where people can donate to functions to off-set the costs. Mayor Daniels thanked the swim team, parents, Public Works Department and the City Council for their involvement at the pool. Michelle Eckels reported Matt DuBlois, the elementary school principal, also put the word out regarding clean-up day at the pool; cumulatively 165 hours were donated. Volunteerism is great, she advised, but a bigger part is needed. Volunteerism needs to come from the City and not an organization that pays to use the pool, she stated. Jonathan Kidde advised he agrees with a volunteer day but asked why the City does not pay to have this work done. City Manager Hawley advised he did not categorize the clean-up day as a swim team event; he looked at it seeing a community coming together to meet a need. He pointed out that the pool operates on a budget of $55,000 a season which does not include numerous hours of administrative time from City Hall staff, hours put in by the Public Works Department and our wastewater treatment plant operators. He went on to explain how the City inherited the pool 8 years ago from the Vergennes Graded School District prior to their dissolution. Pool revenues as well as the expenses were explained in detail by City Manager Hawley. Jonathan Kidde felt the cost of running the pool should come from the general fund just like maintenance to our roads and sidewalks. Mayor Daniels advised the City Council is trying to keep the tax rate economically affordable. Sarah Stroup pled with the City Council to look at other ways to be economically responsible; she felt our assets need to be protected. She advised young families involved with the swim team are visiting our city and spending a lot of money here. She felt the City should make efforts to provide for the public good. Sarah’s daughter read a statement expressing her support for the pool.

ZONING ADMIINISTRATOR APPOINTMENT: Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett advised the Planning Commission met and unanimously supported the re-appointment of Mel Hawley as the City’s Zoning Administrator for another 3-year term. Alderman Bertrand moved to make that appointment, seconded by Alderman Fritz, with all voting in favor.

APPOINTMENT OF ACRPC DELEGATES AND ALTERNATES: City Manager Hawley advised Shannon Haggett and he have been serving as delegates to Addison County Regional Planning Commission along with alternate delegates Cheryl Brinkman and Bill Benton. He advised Bill Benton does not wish to continue serving once his term expires on June 30. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to appoint Mel Hawley and Shannon Haggett as delegates to the ACRPC and Cheryl Brinkman as an alternate. Alderman Lynn Donnelly seconded the motion with all voting in favor. Manager Hawley advised he is hopeful to get another alternate possibly from the Planning Commission to serve.

CITY GREEN TREE REMOVAL: City Manager Hawley advised he met with Chris Olson, the county forester, regarding five trees on the City Green. He advised he thought two trees on the back of the park were diseased but Mr. Olsen found none to be unhealthy. He has been taught that dead limbs are a sign of age and they can be removed. Some trimming can occur on the other trees, he advised. Alderman Lynn Donnelly recommended leaving the trees as they are or just trim them to let in more sunlight for the lawn.

PROPOSED FY2018 SEWER DEPARTMENT BUDGET: City Manager Hawley reported there are six more years of a $123,402 bond payments as well as compliance with the State’s combine sewer overflow policy that needs to be addressed within the next twenty years. He pointed out that his proposed budget is $18,000 more than revenues at the current rate but feels we can possibly go one more year without a rate increase by using up the current fund balance. A rate adjustment can be made at any quarter, he advised, and could be looked at in December. Alderman Donnelly stated she would prefer no increase in the winter when people are trying to keep up with heating costs. City Manager Hawley reported the wastewater treatment plant operator has made a lot of improvements at the plant. Any capital expenditures will be charged to the sewer capital fund.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised the administration budget is on budget, the police department is under budget, and the recent paving will change all the public works’ numbers. The general and recycling budgets are fine but the sewer department budget is expected to go over by 4 to 5 percent, he advised. VV II Housing Associates’ appeal to the State has a decision. The 5 percent of rental income that is put in a reserve fund and called an expense was honored last year for their appeal but this year’s hearing officer gave them a higher percentage so the assessed value of the property was reduced. He recommended accepting that decision and moving on. The tennis courts have all been resurfaced including lines for pickleball courts. It is expected that the docks at the basin will go in this week, he advised.

ADJOURNMENT: At 7:30 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk

Memorial Day Parade, 2017 – Road closures

The Vergennes Memorial Day Parade is scheduled for Monday 29 May 2017 and will be starting at 11:00 a.m. As most of you know parking is at a premium that morning and some enterprising souls even park in their favorite parade viewing point the night before. Parking is restricted on the north side (City Hall and City Park) of Main Street from City Hall west to South Maple Street, as well as on North Green Street. This is to allow vendors and event participants room to park their vehicles and set up on the city green. Restricted parking signs will be posted along with traffic cones in this restricted area.

Likewise, please allow for traffic delays and/or stoppages during the period the parade is taking place. Traffic will be stopped on Main Street from the intersection with Monkton Road from about 10:50 am to the time the final parade unit enters South Maple Street, which is usually around 1:00 p.m. Likewise, traffic will not be able to enter Monkton Road from US Route 7 from 10:50 am to the time the final parade unit enters Main Street. Side roads along the parade route will be closed while the parade is in process, to include School Street, South Maple Street, Green Street and New Haven Road. Please allow enough time for these delays or take an alternate route around Vergennes to reach your destination.

I also ask you to please drive slowly and safely as there will be a large number of people, especially little ones, watching the parade and walking to and from the parade.

I hope you enjoy the parade and I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day! God Bless you and please be safe.

Chief Merkel

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Get more info on Memorial Day Parade activities from the Vergennes Partnership