HEARD ON THE STREET: 2.16.17

Library Seeks $330,633 At City Meeting

MONTPELIER — The Kellogg Hubbard Library directors are seeking a $14,000 hike over last year’s taxpayer appropriation.

The article voters will see on the Town Meeting Day ballot reads, “Shall the voters appropriate the sum of $330,633 to be used by the Kellogg-Hubbard Library for the fiscal year July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018? (This amount is in addition to the $29,252 for the library bond payment included in the City General Fund Budget, ARTICLE 3) (By Petition).”

Speaking on the organization’s spending and budgeting, library Executive Director Tom McKone said in a recent council meeting, that other than the city allocation, operating funds come from investments from an endowment, fundraising events and mailed donor appeals.

In addition to lending books, the library offers children’s programs, public computers, free wifi 24-hours a day, ebooks and technology training. Council member Justin Turcotte praised the library representatives for the programs they offer.

 

Ruling: Vermont College Building Is Not Tax-Exempt

MONTPELIER — The City of Montpelier has prevailed in a property tax dispute with the Vermont College of Fine Arts, meaning the college is liable for $35,000 more in property taxes for tax years 2013 and 2014 than if the college’s position had been upheld. The matter was decided in a recent Vermont Supreme Court decision that examined the taxable status of Schulmaier Hall, two-thirds of which Vermont College of Fine Arts rented to the State of Vermont in 2013 and 2014 for about $400,000 per year.

Vermont College of Fine Arts, a nonprofit corporation, argued that leasing to the State should not make the building taxable, as the City maintained. But the decision stated that, although the building had been used for education in the past and could be in the future, it did not qualify for the “public school” property tax exemption at present. In addition, the Court said the building did not qualify for the “public use” exemption because the owner and the lessee did not have a “single mission,” as required by previous cases.

The college had been paying the tax bill on Schulmaier Hall pending the outcome of the case, and it also pays property taxes on other buildings it leases out. Because it is a low-residency educational institution, up to 62 percent of its built space was unoccupied and available for lease in 2013 and 2014, the court decision said.

 

Harris Hall Settlement Allows Office Use

MONTPELIER — The owners of Harris Hall at 56 College St. have been given the green light to change the building’s use under the terms of a settlement agreement reached between the building owners and the Montpelier City Council and approved by the council Feb. 2.

Previously, the development review board nixed a proposal to change the use of the property, formerly owned by New England Culinary Institute, from academic offices to general offices. Now, following an appeal to Superior Court by the property owners and the subsequent settlement, the building can go from a nonconforming use as an academic office (its use during the culinary institute years) to a nonconforming use as general offices.

One of the owners, Jeff Nick, told The Bridge he was “pleased we were able to settle,” although he said the delay and legal fees caused by the review board decision had cost the owners time and money. Nick said he is reaching out to potential tenants and expected the building will eventually house two or three separate entities.

The settlement requires that business hours be restricted to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., that lighting be downcast and shielded, that on-site parking remain the same, and that parking in the driveway be prohibited.

 

Langdon Street Alive to Install New Art Exhibit

MONTPELIER — The Langdon Street Alive project — an effort “to create a new civic space that will add social and economic vitality to our downtown” through art and pocket park installation — has wintered over, but a new look is planned. Ward Joyce, the architect behind the idea, met with the Development Review Board Nov. 21 to discuss the matter. “I noticed some of the art isn’t experiencing all the same longevity,” said Philip H. Zalinger, chair of the board. Joyce proposed taking down the art items that have overly weathered — including the colorful banners hanging down into the river that began shredding. “I am going to jump in the river this week and haul a few out,” Joyce said.

“I am not a member of the taste police, but I was hoping they would be refreshed,” Zalinger said.

Joyce sought and received permission to take down the damaged items while leaving up the rest until spring.

“My intention is we will come back in March and re-petition for the summer and it will be new,” Joyce said.

For more information, go to http://www.langdonstreetalive.org/.

 

Vermont Trading Company To Close

MONTPELIER — Vermont Trading Company, 50 State St., has announced by Facebook and a sign in their window that they are closing their doors. From Facebook, “It is a bittersweet time for us but we are ready to move on. It’s time!! So come get your treasure so you have your memory of us. Everything must go. Lots of wall hangings, tapestries, Noah bells, sparkly runners, Indian furniture, baskets from Africa, lots of beautiful Haitian art, ethnic pillows, clothing, scarves and so much more. Don’t miss out and again it has been a pleasure to be your go-to store for many, many years. Much thanks. Lori and Terri Hill”

Moose Meanders Through Montpelier

MONTPELIER — What next? On Feb. 4, the Montpelier Police Department posted a picture of a moose in the parking lot with this posting: “Being a 24 hour department and dispatch center, we sometimes get interesting visitors at odd hours. This big fella stopped by early this morning but didn’t have much to say.”

According to the Vermont Game Warden’s Association website, Montpelier officers successfully guided this moose from Barre Street to the north end of State Street near the Green Mountain Cemetery. When Warden Sgt. Barrett arrived most of the work was already done. Sgt. Barrett got out on foot and convinced it to go deeper into the woods.

 

Newspaper, Muffin Sales Spike at Uncommon Market

MONTPELIER — It seems Trump is good news for the news industry. A local store has observed that in the short time since Donald J. Trump has been elected president of the United States, people are buying more newspapers — and while they are there — food.

From the Uncommon Market online newsletter, “I’ve noticed since Trump took office that The Uncommon Market has sold notably more New York Times on a daily basis than we ever have before. I’ve also noticed that since Trump took office we’ve sold out of our fresh homemade muffins every day by 9 a.m. We’re going to increase our muffin production and start laying in more NY Times because the trend is apt to continue. Be aware but stay warm.”

The Uncommon Market is located at 1 School Street. They are open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check them out at http://uncommonmarket.net/.

 

No Tow? Heed Parking Ban Notices!

MONTPELIER — If you don’t want to get towed from a street in Montpelier, pay attention to the parking ban. According to City Manager Bill Fraser Feb. 14, this is the third year implementing a parking ban that only goes into effect just before, during and after actual snowfall. In previous years, the winter parking ban called for cars to be banned from city streets all winter long — from mid-November through mid-April.

However, for the last three years, cars have been allowed to park on city streets unless the winter ban goes into effect. If your car is out on the street during a snowstorm, expect to go pick it up at Bob’s Sunoco the next day. However, towing cars is the worst case scenario, said Fraser. City officials would much rather prevent people from parking out on city streets and are continuing to improve communications between themselves and car owners.

Fraser also wants residents to know the ban continues after the storm so the Department of Public Works can get rid of the snow — especially after large blizzards — which can sometimes take days. “We will let you park out on the street except when we need to be out plowing and removing snow. Nobody wants to be towing 50 cars,” Fraser said. The city rented two big flashing highway signs this year to increase parking ban alert communications at street level. The ban is also announced on Front Porch Forum, the Montpelier city website: http://www.montpelier-vt.org/ and the city Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MontpelierVT/.

 

Police Chief Facos Joins Montpelier Rotary

L–R: Chief Tony Facos, Joe Choquette and Rotary President Sue Kruthers

MONTPELIER — Police Chief Anthony Facos has joined the Montpelier chapter of the Rotary Club. Rotarian Joe Choquette said, “As a Rotarian, the world will judge Rotary by your conduct and regular attendance to weekly meetings.” Facos is a Montpelier native and a graduate of Norwich University with a master’s degree. He was also a champion on the ski team at Montpelier High School and Norwich University. Facos joined the Montpelier Police Force in 1985 and became chief in 2007.

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