City seeking grant for North Main Street sidewalk

VERGENNES —Vergennes is seeking a $180,000 VTrans Bicycle and Pedestrian Program grant to extend a city sidewalk along North Main Street from the Vergennes Redemption Center to Champlain Discount Foods, a stretch of road that includes the Kennedy Brothers building, according to draft minutes from the city council’s July 23 meeting.

The project cost is estimated at $200,000, according to Mayor Bill Benton, and City Manager Mel Hawley recommended aldermen dip into the city’s Water Tower Fund for $20,000 to provide the city’s 10 percent share of the project cost.

Hawley told aldermen Vergennes had a $125,000 grant application for the project rejected in January by the VTrans Transportation Alternatives Program, but largely because VTrans officials believed that amount of money would not cover the project cost.

Aldermen approved the application and the Water Tower Fund — which is fed by cell phone firms who hang broadcast equipment on the city’s former water tower — as the source of the city’s contribution.

In other business on July 23, aldermen:

•  Appointed Alderwoman Lynn Donnelly as the council’s representative on the Friends of the Vergennes Opera House board, an act taken after new interim FOVH president Gerianne Smart said the board had expanded from six to 14 members and had new energy. Hawley also said the long-awaited opera house sprinkler project was “99 percent complete,” and that the installation firm would return in September to tie up the loose ends.

•  Reappointed Morgan Kittredge, Timothy Cook, Michael Winslow, Jason Farrell and Rebecca Duffy to the planning commission with terms to expire on Aug. 1, 2015.

•  Reappointed Farrell, Brent Rakowski, Steven Rapoport, Don Peabody and Alderman Lowell Bertrand to the development review board, with their terms also to expire on Aug. 1, 2015.

•  Heard from Hawley that the city had completed its purchase of the former Vergennes Auto Sales property on North Main Street, which will be the new home of the Vergennes police station when a new building is finished. Last week, City Clerk Joan Devine said the city was awaiting a state permit to begin demolition of the existing building.

•  Announced they had reached a deal to buy the remaining one-half interest in a small lot along Otter Creek from Eileen Clark, at a cost of $10,000. Aldermen will take funds from the Water Tower Fund to do so. Earlier this summer, the city bought the other half-interest in the parcel from Wilfred Pollender in a similar deal.

The land lies two parcels south of the city docks, and the city has leased the land from Pollender and Clark — and her late husband, Greg Clark — for many years. A walking path crosses the land and links the docks with the new stairway down from Main Street to the basin area.

•  Heard from Alderman Joe Klopfenstein that a design for a toddlers’ park next to the city pool was complete, included a replica boat for climbing, and should cost around $30,000. Aldermen discussed funding possibilities, and Alderman Renny Perry said using volunteer labor could cut costs considerably. 

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