City council reconsidering Vergennes overnight winter parking ban

VERGENNES — The Vergennes City Council at their Aug. 30 meeting continued to discuss amending the winter ban on overnight parking on city streets, a law that allows the city’s public works department to easily plow and sand roads during snowstorms. Some landlords and business owners have told the council it has posed problems for their tenants, clients and employees.
The council discussed alternatives, including hiring a firm to send texts or prerecorded messages to car owners if they needed to move their cars, as suggested by Alderman Mark Koenig; or amending the law to allow employees who start work early or businesses who open early to apply for exemptions, as suggested by City Manager Mel Hawley; or the general use of private or public parking lots as an alternative, as several council members have mentioned.
Hawley will get the council information on the number of downtown apartments and private parking spaces, probably by its Sept. 13 meeting, to help the council determine the scope of the issue.
The council agreed to revisit the issue then.
The council also awarded $15,000 to the Vergennes Partnership (see story) and met with a representative of Vermont Gas (see story).
In other business on Aug. 30, the council:
• Continued to discuss whether to resurface the city’s tennis courts, at a cost of at least $8,200, and inspect the city pool, something that could cost at least $4,000, and would be easiest if done soon because it is being drained to allow replacement of a valve.
The council came to no firm conclusion whether the projects should be done this fall or next spring. Hawley said he will check if estimates will change for work next spring, and is still hoping a local, low-cost pool inspection can be performed. He has said he is not sure an inspection is necessary, while some aldermen have said an inspection — as requested by some residents whose families are regular pool users — could be a good idea.
“It needs to be done,” Alderman Renny Perry said. “Things change over the years.”
• Voted to move up the starting time of future meetings from 6 to 5:30 p.m., starting with its Sept. 13 meeting.
• Heard from Hawley that delinquent tax collections have gone well. At this point last year, he said, the delinquent tax total stood at about $40,600, and the comparable figure for 2016 is just a little more than $24,000.
• Heard from Mayor Bill Benton that the Agency of Transportation plans to replace the bridge over Otter Creek on Route 17, which city officials hope can eventually become a northbound truck bypass for Vergennes. Officials in neighboring towns so far oppose the plan. Benton said a better, wider bridge could help the idea gain traction. “It was the biggest obstacle,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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