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City safety committee to make suggestions

VERGENNES — The Vergennes City Council heard from Alderman Matt Chabot at their Feb. 14 meeting that the pedestrian task force of which he is a member will have recommendations for council members to consider at their next meeting.
Those could include flashing pedestrian lights at three crosswalks, and also at least a trial run suggested by Burlington nonprofit Local Motion to evaluate the impact on traffic of structural changes to streets such as narrowed lanes and bulbouts.
Chabot said Local Motion officials believe such changes are the best long-term solution, and the nonprofit has equipment the city could borrow to simulate such changes and allow officials to observe the effects on traffic and pedestrian safety on a trial basis.
After the meeting Alderman Mark Koenig said pedestrians, including schoolchildren, do appear to be using the temporary flag-and-bucket system he installed at a couple of crosswalks. Pedestrians pick up flags on one side and wave them at drivers to enhance visibility before dropping them off on the far side.
In other business, the council:
•  Discussed recommendations in the city’s Downtown and Otter Creek Basin Master Plan for the Falls Park area and which should be made priorities for future funding. Benton asked council members to review the list and give their opinions at a future meeting. They also discussed possible support for a planned Rotary Club upgrade to the park.
•  Held a brief and unattended public hearing required for minor amendments to a section of the city plan. The amendment adds a map of the city’s downtown, describes the importance of Vergennes being a Vermont Designated Downtown and the Vergennes Partnership’s vital role in maintaining that designation, and adds a list of projects the partnership would like to fund to improve the city.
That list includes upgrades to street signs, the addition of way-finding signs, streetscape projects on Main and School streets, several pedestrian safety projects, improved downtown Wi-Fi, the relocation of utility poles off Main Street, downtown charging stations for electric vehicles, a Main Street sidewalk extension from Macdonough Drive to Otter Creek, and a footbridge to Pumphouse Island.
The council will hold a required second hearing on Feb. 28 and then amend the plan. The changes are required for the city’s re-application to retain its Designated Downtown status, which the Vergennes Partnership has already filed.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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