VTrans, city finalize sewer extension deal

VERGENNES — The Vergennes sewer fund should soon be $107,876 richer, City Manager Mel Hawley told Vergennes aldermen at their Nov. 11 meeting.
City and Vermont Agency of Transportation officials earlier this fall agreed on that figure as a tap-on fee to the city sewer system for the historic former Vergennes rail depot, which was moved in October 2012 from North Main Street to a Ferrisburgh site next to the VTrans park-and-ride lot and is now state-owned.
But legal wrangling over contract details had delayed the final agreement until recently, when Hawley said state attorneys finally accepted language the city preferred.
He expects a check to arrive “within three or four days” after the final paperwork hits the desk of VTrans project manager Wayne Davis, who first came up with the idea of moving the train station more than a dozen years ago. Officials hope that the building can be used as a visitor center and once again as a depot when rail service is restored to western Vermont.
In all, it will have cost about $1.3 million to move the building onto a new foundation, renovate its exterior, replace its windows, and hook it up to city sewer.
Hawley said the city will net about $93,000 when the state check arrives. Vergennes spent $30,000 to extend a sewer line to a manhole near the rail depot, but would have invested about half that much anyway extending a new line to the new city police station nearby on Main Street.
In addition, the sewer fund will net $490 a year for providing sewer service to a commercial building of that size, an amount equal to 140 percent of the fee for a similar building within city limits.
Hawley and aldermen have also talked with Denecker Chevrolet owner Tom Denecker about extending a sewer line further along Route 22A. Denecker was proposing to consolidate his two sites, one on Main Street and one at the Ferrisburgh intersection of Monkton Road and Route 7, on land at the corner of Routes 7 and 22A, a parcel now owned by Ferrisburgh. However, Denecker recently shelved that plan because, he said, of the time and expense required to get an Act 250 permit.
Hawley also said last week that aldermen have approved spending about $5,000 to fit up an SUV with police equipment. The vehicle will be primarily used for commercial truck enforcement as well as transport for the police department in winter weather.
Hawley said the Addison County Sheriff’s Department granted the city police use of the SUV on a long-term basis, with the provision that it be returned to the sheriff’s department when city police no longer want it.
The SUV is large enough, Hawley said, to transport the truck-weighing scales the department already owns, and thus will help enforce the 24,000-pound weight limit on the city’s many non-Class I roads.
“We do not at all appreciate use of our non-Class I roads, like Monkton Road, as a shortcut,” Hawley said.
The combination of the SUV and the scales have potential to add to the city’s general fund as well as increase safety and protect the city’s roads, he said.
“The fines are substantial” for overweight trucks that do not have permits to deliver to city businesses, Hawley said.
In other business on Nov. 11, Vergennes aldermen:
•  Heard from Hawley he will meet for a third time with the Vergennes Union Elementary School board to discuss whether a site to the right rear of the school might be acceptable for the proposed city toddler playground. Hawley hopes for a decision soon that would let aldermen know if that site, which would span city and school property, is an alternative to another site on East Street near the city pool that is favored by the city’s recreation committee.
Some neighbors and other residents have opposed the East Street site, while other residents have supported it. Vergennes has a grant in hand to pay for half the estimated $42,000 cost of the currently proposed design.
•  Looked at three updated options for reconfiguring the first floor of Vergennes City Hall, all provided by architectural designer Christopher Pettibon. At issue is how best to use and possibly share with the Vergennes Opera House the roughly 800 square feet of space vacated by Vergennes police earlier this year. Mayor Bill Benton said late last month aldermen hope to have a plan ready that would allow work to begin this winter.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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