Water and SewerFraser said with FEMA doing the infrastructure work, it will save Montpelier from the future expense when the city begins implementing housing development on the property. The water line from U.S. Route 2 would have to be upsized to a 12-inch pipe to accommodate future housing plans, but FEMA only needs an 8-inch pipe for the trailers. However, Fraser is negotiating to have them install the 12-inch pipe with the city footing the extra $50,000 cost. Otherwise, the city would have to install larger pipes at a cost between $500,000 to $550,000, Fraser said. The money for the water pipe would come from the water fund, Fraser said, adding that “the water fund has not been hit as hard as the general fund, and even in hard times, you have to make good decisions looking forward.” The existing sewer line has enough capacity for the FEMA housing, although it would have to be increased for a larger housing development.
PermitsCouncilor Tim Heney raised a concern about the project getting snagged by the permitting process, asking, “Any dispensation to allow this to happen quickly, so they don’t have to go through this permit gauntlet?” Heney described a delay in permitting he experienced and expressed hope Montpelier will be as quick with local rebuilding permits as they are with FEMA permits. Fraser said because Vermont is still in a state of emergency the government can waive permit requirements, especially since the project is directly related to providing safety to a population of displaced households. “I do think we would work with FEMA and the government and remove any barriers as we can reasonably remove,” Fraser said, adding that the situation “merits a sense of urgency.” FEMA has also agreed to follow the city’s rules as far as following city-imposed codes and rules regarding development. Fraser said when the topic of timing came up in a conversation between him and FEMA, they responded “the only answer we got is, ‘this is what we do … we put these things in. We do it fast and bring in the resources to get it done.’” Community and economic development director Josh Jerome affirmed he would help FEMA get through the development process.
ParkingSome people expressed concern about parking to accommodate the new residents as well as those using the fields for recreation. Councilor Cary Brown noted that if there are 36 households, there could be 72 cars. Where would they park? Fraser said each unit would have parking alongside the home.
Benefits for the Flood-strickenMayor Jack McCollough shared his thoughts after the bulk of the discussion. “I think this is great and I don’t see how we could not do this. People know there is a lot of housing loss in Barre. This is going to meet the need for central Vermont.”
Elks Club Good Samaritan Haven ShelterRick DeAngelis, co-executive director of Good Samaritan Haven, spoke up about the winter shelter going in the former Elks Club building in November. The arrangement was posted in the Montpelier City Manager’s report of Sept. 1. “First of all, we are really pleased to be leasing that space. I think it is going to meet our needs really well. It’s clean, well lighted, attractive,” DeAngelis said. There is a small kitchenette for shelter guests to use. DeAngelis expressed gratitude to the city staff, who, in the middle of everything going on with the flood, helped to facilitate the shelter agreement. “We really appreciate that a lot,” he said. DeAngelis went on to express support for the FEMA trailers by saying it is going to help greatly for people who lost their homes in the flood. This will prevent them from becoming homeless and needing shelter from Good Sam. Also, “everything I’ve heard about this plan gives me comfort, in that it is going to be well-managed. And I was really pleased to hear there is going to be security on site, so I’m just looking forward to being up there and so we can exist peacefully,” he said.
Other MattersThe city council also discussed future use of the country club site, recreation, extending the waiving of permit fees for people rebuilding downtown, managing the FEMA trailers after FEMA pulls out, transportation for the shelter, hunting, and tax abatement before adjourning. FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Association have provided $54.7 million to the state of Vermont following the flooding on July 10–11, according to the fema.gov website. Vermonters still have until Oct. 12 to apply for assistance.
Stories about Flood Recovery
- Resilient Montpelier Is Thinking Ahead
- Statehouse Flood Forum Generates List of Concerns for Next Session
- Open for Business! Blanchard Block Stores Reopen
- Making Peace With the River: Prevention, Floodproofing, and Letting the Water Flow
- Signs of Reopening in Downtown Montpelier
- Montpelier Roxbury School Fields Ready for Students
- Post-Flood Outdoor Service at Christ Church
- Onion River Outdoors Plans New Location
- 36 FEMA Trailers Going in on Country Club Road
- After the Flood: Local Churches Share Resources, Part One
- City Manager Explains Post-Flood Constraints on Staff
- After the Flood: Local Houses of Worship Share Resources, Part 2
- Building Back After the Flood: New Apartments Planned for Old Spaces
- Phil Scott Waives Regulations to Expedite Temporary Housing in Montpelier for Flood Survivors
- Flooded Montpelier Hair Salons Join Forces