By Lani Duke
Loyalty Day parade postponed
Officials are attempting to reschedule the community’s 53rd Loyalty Day parade, initially scheduled for Sunday, May 1. More than 1,000 individuals and 130 vehicles in 85 “units” were signed up to walk and roll through downtown Rutland that day, said Loyalty Day Parade Committee chairman Ron Fairbanks. The parade is a legacy of the Cold War tension of the 1950s, made a national holiday by President Dwight Eisenhower to counter the Communist May Day celebration. This year’s was the second cancellation since the local celebration began.
The parade was scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Fairbanks waited until 11:45 that morning to cancel its start. The parade had not formed, and the weather forecast showed increasing rainfall. Fairbanks said he was concerned about safety. “I didn’t want anyone slipping and getting hurt,” he explained.
Local news media broadcast the cancellation, and most people received the news in time to avoid showing up at their assembly sites.
If 90 percent of the 85 units signed up to participate will agree to reschedule for 2 pm. May 29, the Loyalty Day parade will roll then. If the parade reschedules, the news media will receive that information, Fairbanks said. If not, the approximate $4,000 in donations will roll into next year’s event.
Even though the parade was cancelled, VFW Post 648 Ladies Auxiliary successfully hosted its annual Loyalty Day luncheon buffet.
Parking kiosks possibly delayed
The City’s Board of Finance recently voted to accept a bid for nine parking kiosks to replace downtown parking meters, with the $83,000 purchase price to be drawn from the city’s parking meter fund. But there was a glitch in the order. The Board of Aldermen had not authorized the outlay, a necessary step in the procedure for all city expenditures. Mayor Chris Louras told the Board that the premature order was an error and not an attempt to usurp their authority. William Notte, president of the Board of Aldermen, is one of the Board of Finance members. The others are Louras himself and City Treasurer Wendy Wilton.
The fate of the kiosk order seems to be up in the air. Instead of promptly deciding to authorize the order, the aldermen voted to give the matter to the Public Safety Committee, scheduled to meet May 11. That committee then makes a recommendation to the full board, which may then vote to approve or deny the expenditure.
However, the kiosks are apparently already being manufactured, with delivery scheduled for the end of June and installation in July. The kiosk system would have drivers paying for parking with credit cards, entering their license plate numbers during the process.
Old Dana School anticipates new uses
Tareka Hand has applied for a zoning variance to open a day care at the corner of East and Center streets in the former Dana School building. Hand has filed for a daycare to serve 59+ children. The building, owned by developer/building repurposing expert Joe Giancola, is in an area zoned residential but has already held a daycare and other businesses while it was owned by Rutland City and inhabited by the Recreation Department offices and programming.
Giancola has been renovating the structure since he purchased it for $50,000 in 2013. Saying that he is finished with its exterior, he has replaced the ceilings and is currently installing new gas boilers and LED lighting. Along the way he had to replace the plumbing, because much of the copper lines had gone missing during the time the building sat vacant.
The developer had hoped for a zoning change permitting the structure’s previous user categories, but the Board of Aldermen turned down that request, preferring to consider variances on an individual tenant business basis.
In the meantime, Giancola anticipates having six apartments available for occupancy in the fall. Each one is the conversion of a former classroom, with a 16×16’ bedroom built into the corner, and a galley kitchen tucked into the room’s former coat closets.
Volunteers aid city beautification
Rutland Blooms coordinated the efforts of numerous volunteers to plant trees along West Street, Stratton Road, and Woodstock Avenue. In all, 78 trees were set in place by a host of folks from General Electric Aviation, Mentor Connection, and Castleton University. More green and flower plantings are to come. The May 5 installations on West Street are both red sunset maples and flowering crabapples; Stratton Road and Woodstock received flowering crabs too.
Later in the year, Rutland Blooms will put in eight large trees in Baxter Street Park and numerous other plants along Strongs Avenue. City boosters anticipate beautifying the city’s major gateways will improve the image of Rutland to its visitors and occupants alike.
Thanks are due not only to Project VISION participants but also to donors who collectively contributed over $42,000 raised this year for the project.
Downtowns/Village Centers eligible for grant, tax credits
Designated Downtowns and Village Centers are eligible for electric vehicle charging station grants from the State Department of Housing and Community Development in partnership with the Agency of Natural Resources. Grant applications are due June 6, with a maximum grant of $20,000 and a 25 percent cash or in-kind match.
The state also offers a total of $2,200,000 in state income tax credits to projects that enhance the historic character and improve building safety in older and historic commercial buildings within the boundaries of Designated Downtowns and Village Centers. Applications for the tax credits are due July 1.
Brandon, Poultney, and Rutland City have achieved Designated Downtown status. In the town of Wallingford, East Wallingford, Wallingford, and South Wallingford all bear designated Village Center status; elsewhere in Rutland County, only West Rutland, East Poultney, Proctor, Pittsford, Pittsfield, and Benson are current holders of Village Center status. Castleton and Castleton Center have held it, as have Pawlet and West Pawlet.
New Village Center designation requires that the municipal plan contain at least one statement recommending state designation as one of the plan’s goals, outlining the tie-in between the plan and state designation in revitalizing the village center. Renewal of the designation relies on a currently updated town plan.
Diamond Run tenant license approved
The future looked a little iffy for a new restaurant trying to open in Diamond Run Mall. The town had rejected a liquor license application for The Draught Room because mall management did not renew its contract with the Rutland County Sheriff’s department, which had provided security for the mall up to this April. The security gap has now been resolved. The mall has hired private security company Censor Security to split patrols with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, Selectman John Paul Faignant told his fellow board members May 3. Learning of that answer to their security concerns, the Select Board voted unanimously to approve the new restaurant’s liquor license.
Deputies will be assigned to the mall Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays—and on call to perform arrests, ticketing, and towing.
Under the previous contract, Diamond Run was to pay the Sheriff’s Department $132,000 a year; reduced coverage shrinks the contract amount to $50,000. Reducing the contract shrinks the Sheriff’s Department total budget, but he has been able to reassign two deputies and no one is losing a job, Sheriff Stephen Benard said.