Home Heard on the Street HEARD ON THE STREET: 5.5.16



Council Ratifies City Manager’s Contract

MONTPELIER — Montpelier City Council ratified the city manager’s contract during the April 27 City Council meeting. City Manager William Fraser had been working under the previous year’s contract until that point. The delay was not explained nor were a citizen’s concerns addressed.

“I want to discuss city manager’s contract,” said Ken Jones of Clarendon Avenue. “There are a lot of rumors running through town. And those rumors aren’t good for anybody.” Jones went on to describe how city council met in secret during eight executive sessions to discuss the contract and whether that is appropriate or not is questionable.

“We hear through rumor there was quite a bit of conflict about the city manager’s contract, and, if that is the case, executive session isn’t the time to resolve city council’s conflict. I hope city council did not use that time to avoid a difficult decision in public.” Jones went on to say he felt the police chief, fire chief and planning director should have input into the city manager’s position as well.

Neither the mayor nor any council members responded to his concerns.


Parks Commissioner Sought

MONTPELIER — The Montpelier Parks Commission seeks candidates to fill a vacant seat on the commission until March of 2017. Anyone interested can send an application letter to the Commission’s chairman, Bryan Pfeiffer, no later than May 10. In your letter, state your interests and qualifications.

The full commission will make an appointment at its next regular meeting on May 17 at 7 p.m.. The term of this appointment runs until Town Meeting Day in 2017, at which point this particular seat on the commission opens up to any interested candidates for a five-year term. This appointment fills a vacancy created when Parks Commissioner Kip Roberts resigned his seat effective April 19.

Application letters can be sent by regular mail or email to: Bryan Pfeiffer, 138 Main Street, Montpelier, VT 05602; bpfeiffer@montpelier-vt.org


‘Harmonies of Home’ to Raise Money For Homeless

BARRE — Suzy and Goddard Graves will perform “Harmonies of Home” May 20 to raise money for the homeless. “Admission is by donation, but no one will be turned away. How can you kick people out when you are tryig to help God’s poor?” Graves said to The Bridge. Goddard and his wife, Suzy, will perform old American country, sentimental music and more. “It is going to be a program of old-time songs and stories,” Graves said. The concert will be held at Church of the Good Shepherd, 39 Washington Street, Barre, on Friday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. It is a granite church. For more information, contact the Reverend Earl Kooperkamp at 212-280-6826.


Thefts Abound: Purse Snatcher Strikes Shaw’s, Shoplifters Plunder Artisan’s Hand

MONTPELIER — At least two local businesses have recently been hit by crime. A purse snatcher struck the Montpelier Shaw’s and a pair of shoplifters helped themselves to piles of items from Artisan’s Hand recently. Both stores are on Main Street.

An estimated $700 worth of jewelry, soaps and other items were stolen from the Artisan’s Hand during business hours April 22. The thefts were carried out by a male and a female, according to images caught on camera. “They were brazen beyond any reason,” said Lochlin Smith, an Artisan’s Hand board member, adding, “they didn’t look for cameras. They went into Splash before they hit us.” Smith said he blames it on the drug epidemic. Smith had installed surveillance cameras, which he said allowed police to identify the subjects. Burlington police apprehended the pair on the morning of May 4 according to Marietta Rhyne of Artisans Hand.

Later, on April 25 at approximately 5 p.m. at Shaw’s supermarket, a male subject grabbed a purse from a shopping cart. The male was described as approximately 5’10 in height, moderately heavy set, wearing a black windbreaker style jacket with a white stripe running along the sleeve, White t-shirt with a dark colored collar and sunglasses.

The Bridge called Montpelier Police Department to find out if any one of these three had been caught and was told, ““The investigation is still ongoing.”

Readers with information are urged to call the Montpelier Police non-emergency line at 223-3445.


Invigorated Economic Development Underway

MONTPELIER — Planners and city officials are working with an outside agency, Fairweather Consulting,  to come up with a new economic strategic plan. “Last week our consultant, Peter Fairweather, presented draft recommendations. We received a fair amount of support from attendees and council,” said Jessie Baker, assistant city manager, during the Montpelier Business Association meeting May 4.

Fairweather met with large property owners, large employers, business owners and financiers to figure out where Montpelier thrives compared to similar cities. Those areas include adult learning, food processing, entrepreneurship, finance and insurance, nonprofit organizations, technical and green businesses, retail, hospitality and the arts. “We need some transformational projects to push these forward,” Baker said. This could include a hotel and conference center, a comprehensive housing strategy and, perhaps a nonprofit advocacy training center. Making Montpelier a hub for nonprofit organization coaching and training would make sense because of the nonprofits that feed into activities at the State House, Baker said.

Creating other attractions, such as a brewery, would make sense as well, it was suggested. In addition, creating a “retail arcade,” such as what exists at Faneuil Hall in Boston (one large open space containing rows and rows of self-contained businesses within small kiosks and cubicles), would be a good use of space.

Claire Benedict, co-owner of Bear Pond Books, said Montpelier should be positioning itself as a premium environment. “There is no thriving in the middle. You sink in the middle. We need to position ourselves as thriving,” she said that doesn’t mean to exclude lower income residents. If Montpelier can create more wealth and prosperity, then it can more easily build housing for all income levels, it was said. “Montpelier can’t rest on its laurels any more,” Benedict said. Surrounding towns, such as Barre, Waterbury and Berlin, are attracting more development because they are concentrating on their economic plans.

“Economic development is successful if there is a clear plan that the whole community gets behind,” Baker said. Everyone seemed to agree that parking has to be addressed in some manner.