Vergennes sewer dept. grows to three employees

VERGENNES — Vergennes will soon add for the first time a third sewer department employee, a move City Manager Mel Hawley last week told the city council could help solve the ongoing problem of the municipal sewer system overflowing into Otter Creek.
Hired was 2012 Vergennes Union High School graduate Geoffrey Grant, who on May 23 will join treatment plant operator Rick Chaput and assistant operator Victor Chaput in the department.
Hawley said adding Grant to the team should help the department identify areas in the system where water infiltration is occurring. Water infiltration has been identified as a significant contributor to the persistent problem of the sewer system backing up at the Macdonough Drive pump station and overflowing into Otter Creek, especially during heavy rains.
Grant’s addition will give all the department’s employees time to inspect the collection system and identify needed fixes, Hawley said, especially around manholes that might no longer be properly sealing.
“It’s a sewer department project, doing a complete assessment of our collection system,” Hawley said. “The hiring of Geoffrey will enable us to be proactive in inspecting all the manholes, creating a list of work if needed to tighten up manholes. We suspect a certain amount of infiltration is occurring around manholes.”
In other business at its May 10 meeting, the council:
• Backed a proposal from the Vergennes Partnership that Hawley said had first been suggested by 3 Squares eatery owner Matt Birong: to place two picnic tables at the back of the city green, which at this point only has benches along sidewalks and on its bandstand. Hawley said the council will review in November whether residents and visitors enjoyed the tables and whether adding them resulted in an unacceptable increase in trash.
• Were told by Hawley that Vermont Gas Company is beginning to work with him on an agreement that would allow the company to install natural gas lines in the Vergennes road rights of way, a key step before the company can begin work to lay gas lines to serve city customers.
• Approved a request from Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes head Mike Reiderer to reserve the city’s tennis courts for club-sponsored tennis instruction at certain times this summer. In a memo to the council, Reiderer said the club has been pursuing partnerships to offer members and other area youths physical activity outside of its “storefront facility.”
In partnership with the U.S. Tennis Association and the Addison County Athletics Foundation, the club will offer four series of tennis lessons. One, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on July 5 through 8, will also be offered in tandem with the Vergennes Union Elementary School summer program. The other three will run on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. between June 13 and 30, July 15 and 27, and Aug. 1 and 17. The tennis courts will be reserved for the program during those hours.
Each session will cost $45, with financial aid available for participants, according to Reiderer.
• Were told by Hawley that Brad Castillo will return as city pool director for another summer season.
• Heard a reminder from Hawley that those residents and property owners who wish to grieve their property tax assessments must file to do so before June 6.
• Approved a 2016-2017 budget for the Vergennes Fire Department; see story in this edition.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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