MENDON - Officials from Rutland City and Mendon have been
discussing what to do about debris and erosion on Wheelerville Road
by Mendon Brook.
There are two related issues: removing debris left over from
Tropical Storm Irene last year, and controlling the erosion of a
riverbank, owned by the city, that could collapse into the brook.
Mendon has asked the city, as landowner, to cover some of the
estimated $135,000 cost.
But there's a catch.
"The (federal) Natural Resource Conservation Service can cover 90
percent of the cost," said Greg Smith, chairman of Mendon's board
of selectmen, "but the funds are only available until the end of
August, so the work has to be finished by the end of August."
Mendon officials met with Rutland City's Public Works Committee for
the second time on June 14, hoping to get some funding. Smith said
he was unable to attend that meeting because he was out of
Alderman William Notte said the city discussed the matter with the
state Agency of Transportation. Notte is chairman of Rutland's
Public Works Committee.
"They came to us as the property owner," Notte said, "and asked for
a $13,000 grant. We went to the state, and VTRANS said the
landowner was not responsible. We can't ask our taxpayers for that
kind of money with so many other priorities right here."
Part of the problem, Smith said, is that nobody seems to own the
water causing the erosion.
"We haven't heard from our attorneys yet," he said.
Then there is the matter of debris - fallen trees, brush, and
stumps - for which things seem to be a little smoother.
"Mendon needs $920 in regards to grant funding," Notte said. "The
city is willing to provide that, but would like a liability waiver.
Some of the stumps have to be left in the river to encourage fish
habitat. We're working with the city attorney on this, and we hope
to have a memorandum of understanding soon."
Smith said the city had broached the issue with the town.
"They sent us a letter talking about being released from future
liability," Smith said. "We're asking for $900-plus to cover the 10
percent match for the grant we need to clear it. But who knows
who's responsible when a tree falls down and blocks the river? We
haven't heard anything back on liability."
This is not the first time the two municipalities have cooperated
on Wheelerville Road.
Last year, Mendon asked Rutland about
removing debris from the brook to shield the road, which needed
extensive repairs in Irene's wake. Rutland's aldermen granted the
town permission to clean up the area, and donated $5,000 to help
Smith said discussions would continue.