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City looks to loan fund to help restaurant and youth club

VERGENNES — Tapping a two-decade-old revolving loan fund, the Vergennes city council on Sept. 27 agreed to loan $95,000 to the owner of the School Street building that houses Bar Antidote and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes to allow expansion of the restaurant’s space and creation of handicap access to the youth club.
Officially, the loan will go to Lincoln Geronimo LLC, of which Panton resident Hans Vorsteveld is the principal. City Manager Mel Hawley on Thursday said $20,000 would be set aside until the spring to fund a handicap access project that will be tied to sidewalk improvement work, while the remaining $75,000 would go toward building renovation on behalf of Bar Antidote.
The revolving loan fund the council turned to was founded in the mid-1990s when buyers that included the Addison County Community Action Group, now HOPE, used a Community Development Block Grant to purchase and renovate a Main Street property known as the Maynard Building.
A condition of that block grant, technically awarded to Vergennes, not the buyers, was that grant repayment go into a revolving loan fund to support housing or job creation.
Previously, the council has twice used the loan fund to support Shear Properties, doing business as Shear Cuts. The city first lent Shear Properties $27,500 to support its purchase of 171 Main St. and the 2008 move of its salon there from Panton Road.
In November 2011 the council agreed to make a $70,788 loan to allow Shear Properties to pay off the balances of its 2008 loan from the city and two small bank loans, eliminate some credit card debt, and fund its share of the cost of a handicap-access ramp that serves 171 Main St. and other buildings, plus the cost of the $14,000 addition of a nail salon to Shear Cuts. Officials back then said that loan, essentially a consolidation, saved Shear Properties about $350 a month.
In other business on Sept. 27, the council also:
•  Agreed to tap the city’s Watershed Fund, which is dedicated to support recreation, to pay for resurfacing the city tennis courts ($11,472), replacing the city pool’s main drainage valve (work already done at a cost of $5,333.92), and professionally inspecting the city pool. The council had agreed at its last meeting to resurface the courts and inspect the pool, but had not designated a fund source. Hawley recommended the Watershed Fund.
•  Decided to spend $5,000 from the Ray Davison Fund, which supports the city’s fire department, to buy a radio repeater, which will strengthen the emergency signal broadcast. Hawley said there are some locations out of town in the area where department members have had trouble picking up the signal. 

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