Vergennes to sign deal for solar power

VERGENNES — At the Vergennes City Council meeting last Tuesday, Jan. 29, aldermen made a decision on a future police station proposal and talked with Vermont Gas Systems about its plan to bring natural gas to the city.
In other business, aldermen:
•  Gave City Manager Mel Hawley the authority to sign a Letter of Intent to buy power from a proposed solar array that could be installed on privately owned area land by Burlington firm Encore Redevelopment.
Hawley said the deal could save the city $16,000 or $17,000 a year in energy costs to start with, an amount that could increase over the deal’s 20-year term. Hawley had hoped to find a site on city land for a solar array, but Encore officials said only a smaller array was possible. A search for a suitable alternative site is ongoing, he said.
•  Heard from Alderman Joe Klopfenstein that the city’s recreation committee was moving ahead on planning for a “toddler park” that it hopes can be built next to the city pool. Klopfenstein said Panton landscape architect David Raphael will help design the park, and with a design in hand a budget can be created that will allow the city to pursue grants. Such a facility was identified in a survey as something residents would like to see built.
•  Were told by Mayor Michael Daniels that the city’s annual report would be dedicated to former alderman and state representative Greg Clark, who lost his life in a Nov. 30, 2012, traffic accident.
•  Were updated by Hawley that what was going to be a grant application for planning for a North Main Street sidewalk extension from the Agency of Transportation is now an application for funds to pay for an extension. The city is seeking $100,000, to be matched by $25,000 locally, to extend the sidewalk from Vergennes Redemption to Champlain Discount Foods.
Some funds will be used to study the feasibility of extending the sidewalk further to the VTrans commuter lot, and officials are also talking with the new owners of Kennedy Brothers about shrinking that complex’s lengthy curb cut.
•  Heard from Hawley that he, public works head Jim Larrow and citizen Cheryl Brinkman would serve as a new “task force” on city recycling. The group will be focusing, Hawley said, on new recycling requirements in state laws.
•  Established Feb. 19 as their February meeting date, rather than Feb. 12. Aldermen said scheduling conflicts drove the change, but they may have to meet on Feb. 26 if they cannot accomplish all their business on the 19th.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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