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Officials eye repairs to Vergennes docks

VERGENNES — Vergennes officials are taking steps toward short- and long-term solutions to fix the retaining walls to which the city docks on the Falls Park side of Otter Creek are attached.

City Manager Rod Redmond said the short-term fix, estimated at $5,000, began on June 23. The city hired Jonathan Brownell of White Falcon Solutions LLC, a Vergennes firm, to shore up what is a deteriorating retaining wall made of vertical interlocking steel sheets.

Redmond said Brownell is using 10-foot lengths of steel pipe to hold the wall in place, a solution that he and Vergennes Public Works Director Jim Larrow told the Vergennes City Council late last month should hold the wall in place for a year or two.

Redmond was expecting that work to be complete by July 15. That timetable is important, he said, because officials expect the Canadian border to re-open on July 21, and Larrow can re-attach the docks before then.

The docks are a popular destination for Canadian boaters on Lake Champlain, and the city offers free tie-ups to its docks, hoping that visitors will spend money in local shops and restaurants.

As for the long term, the council at its June 22 meeting voted to approve the withdrawal of $6,500 from a fund into which boaters have donated over the years in appreciation for the use of the docks on both sides of Otter Creek.

Redmond will use that money to hire Hoyle, Tanner & Associates LLC to evaluate the retaining walls and come up with a draft report including a longer-term solution and its potential cost.

Larrow tossed out a potential cost of $100,000 for a major fix, and a year ago then-City Manager Dan Hofman said the project could reach “six figures.”

Redmond said the problem is limited to the docks on the west side of the river, and there is no similar problem with the docks on the Macdonough Drive side.

In other business on June 22 also:

•  Set the city’s municipal tax rate at 91 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

•  Reappointed Shannon Haggett and Cheryl Brinkman as the city’s representatives on the Addison County Regional Planning Commission, and appointed Brent Rakowski to the regional planning commission’s key Transportation Advisory Committee.

•  Voted to dissolve the city’s long-standing Otter Creek Basin Task Force. That committee, charged with maintaining the river basin and planning for its future, had not met since 2019, officials said. In making that decision councilors concluded the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee, which recently had “Parks” added to its title, could incorporate the basin area into its mission.

•  Formally accepted proposed new zoning and subdivision recommendations approved by the Vergennes Planning Commission after hearings before that board. The council scheduled its required minimum of two public hearings for July 13 and Aug. 10, both beginning at 7 p.m.

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