City sewer overflow seen as costly issue

VERGENNES — Aldermen mulled over the municipal budget at the Vergennes City Council meeting Tuesday (see story on Page 1A), and also discussed the latest overflow of the city’s sewer system into Otter Creek.
City Manager Mel Hawley once again said that water infiltration from older clay sewer lines (both city-owned and privately owned), roof drains and sump pumps — as well as heavy rains — pose major problems, and that pinning down the sources must be done per a long-standing state order before a major fix can be made.
Once it is time for that fix, Hawley said it won’t be cheap. Although he added $30,000 to the fee-based sewer budget for clay-line replacement, a major bond will be necessary.
“We don’t have a $30,000 problem. We have a $3 million problem,” Hawley said. “There’s no question we will have a bond issue. I could be $10 million off when I say $3 million.”
In other business on Tuesday, aldermen:
• Reappointed Diane Lanpher as the city’s representative to the Addison County Transit Resources Board. Aldermen also heard a presentation from ACTR Executive Director Jim Moulton.
• Reached a consensus to change their policy on how to use Watershed Fund money. The current policy insists that much of that fund most be used for park and recreation facility maintenance, and Hawley and aldermen agreed it is too restrictive.
• Heard from Hawley that the owner of a sliver of riverfront land has been identified as Jackman Fuels. The sliver lies between land owned by Bill and Betsey Benton that the city plans to buy and city-owned land near Potash Brook.
Hawley said Jackman Fuels owner Tommy Jackman agreed that that land should have been transferred along with another parcel in 1945, and he is willing to deed it to Vergennes, a move that Hawley said would pave the way for the long-expected, $20,000 sale of the Bentons’ riverfront parcel, next to the city docks, to Vergennes.

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