MONTPELIER — Three conceptual designs for a proposed Confluence Park in the Capital City were presented to Montpelier City Council this week.
The park is part of the Taylor Street transit center and housing complex project that is due to be completed in the spring.
The Confluence Park would be a city project in association with the Vermont River Conservancy, an advocacy group for riverfront restoration and clean water initiatives. The park was first proposed in the 1999 Capital District Master Plan as part of a larger-scale riverfront park development that was influenced by earlier city studies — Montpelier Rivers Report and River Visions — dating back to 1995.
It was further supported by the last year’s Team Bridges’ winning Net Zero design contest that proposed a mix of residential, retail and commercial development and open space to create a new riverfront district in the city. Research into potential use of the site as a park is funded in part by a $125,000 grant from Canaday Family Charitable Trust.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, representatives of VRC and Waterbury landscape architects Milone & McBroom presented a study with three different designs for a riverfront park on the Taylor Street project site.
Key elements that public input identified as important to the design included: access to the river for fishing and boating; balanced with other uses on the site, such as the recreation path and access for people with disabilities. Other requests included addressing environmental concerns about water quality, stormwater runoff and flood resilience of the site in the floodplain. Broad areas to consider for the site included landscaping – seating areas, trees and vegetation, shelters and picnic tables, year-round usability and play opportunities.
Public input also called for public art; bike racks; interpretative signage; incorporating the history of the site; and connectivity to the rest of the city, the North Branch river and other city parks. Spiritual elements proposed included incorporating Abenaki Native-American history, a standing stone circle and a labyrinth of paths.
The three designs proposed included:
— Concept A (called Performance Park) calls for a 380-square-foot pavilion with stepped seating and a 2,800-square-foot performance space; an integrated, uninterrupted recreation path running through the site; a large, accessible river overlook; and river access for fishing and boating.
— Concept B (Heritage Park) features a 2,400-square-foot central plaza with abundant seating; an integrated recreation path into the plaza; two accessible river overlooks and a fishing platform; and river access for fishing and boating.
— Concept C (Riverine Pockets Park) separates the recreation path and the riverfront park; provides two accessible overlooks and a fishing platform; and access to the river for fishing and boating.
According to a score chart during public input on the three options, Concept B received the highest marks for design, complexity and expected cost, followed by Concept A and Concept C, although the score tallies were close.
Councilors welcomed the design concepts to review and discuss at a later council meeting.
BARRE — A Williamstown man is accused of selling a rare saxophone that had been stolen from a home in Plainfield.
Raymond William McKinstry, 35, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Washington County criminal court to felony counts of possession of stolen property and conspiracy to receive stolen property valued at over $900. If convicted, McKinstry faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He was released on conditions.
Trooper William Phelps, of the Vermont State Police, said in his affidavit a burglary was reported in Plainfield on Oct. 3. Phelps said he met with the homeowner who reported he came home to find his things had been rifled through and items were missing. The homeowner told Phelps the items missing included power tools, batteries and a rare saxophone.
Phelps said he later learned the homeowner had been searching for the saxophone online and found it on the online marketplace eBay. The homeowner told police he knew the saxophone up for sale was the one taken from his home because of certain damage and markings it had on it.
Phelps said an investigation showed the seller was from Graniteville. He said police contacted the seller and asked for the serial number, which the seller provided and matched the serial number of the stolen saxophone.
Phelps said the person selling the saxophone told police he had obtained it from Country Thrift Store and More in Barre. Police then went to the store and asked the store’s owners about how they got the saxophone and they reported McKinstry had sold it to them, according to court records.
Phelps said he spoke to McKinstry on Nov. 12 who reported he got the saxophone from Sean Stearns. He told Phelps he picked up Stearns and Stearns put a large amount of items in the back of his vehicle. McKinstry told Phelps they then went to Country Thrift Store and he sold the saxophone because Stearns didn’t have identification on him. Phelps said McKinstry told him he didn’t take any money from the sale and Stearns gave him $20 for the ride to the store.
Stearns was scheduled to be arraigned on multiple charges Thursday, including the Plainfield burglary. He failed to show up and an arrest warrant was issued with bail set at $2,500.
He is already facing several burglary charges for allegedly breaking into homes in the central Vermont area.
BARRE — City councilors want to meet with the owners of two local drinking establishments before deciding whether to renew their annual entertainment licenses.
In a rare move councilors this week deferred action on a pair of pending requests – one for Mingle Nightclub and the other for The Alley Cat. Both were part of a longer list of license requests that were stripped out at the urging of Councilor Jeffrey Tuper-Giles.
Routinely approved without any discussion as part of the council’s weekly consent agenda, Tuper-Giles suggested the renewal application for Mingle and The Alley Cat, as well as the entertainment license Studio Place Arts was requesting for its annual April fundraiser be taken separately.
Tuper-Giles explained his latter suggestion was designed to allow Councilor Sue Higby, who serves as executive director of SPA, to fully participate in the discussion of the other two applications.
Councilors passed Tuper-Giles’ motion and then swiftly approved the entertainment license for SPA with Higby abstaining from both votes.
That left a couple of typically innocuous entertainment license requests that Tuper-Giles said shouldn’t be considered until after the owners of both establishments appeared before the council.
“I would like to have them both come in,” he said, prompting Councilor Michael Boutin to wonder whether the unanticipated delay would be problematic for either establishment.
City Clerk Carol Dawes said it wouldn’t. Both establishments filed their renewal requests before Dec. 31, as is required, and were free to continue operating their businesses as usual unless and until the council denied those requests.
That didn’t happen Tuesday night and it might not happen at all, but with Mingle facing potential suspension or revocation of its state liquor licenses stemming from a series of alleged violations late last year and Tuper-Giles raising vague concerns about The Alley Cat, it is possible.
At a minimum, securing entertainment licenses will require in-person appearances that weren’t required of owners of several other establishments whose requests were collectively approved without a word of discussion Tuesday night. That list included Gusto’s, Ladder 1 Grill, Quarry Kitchen & Spirits, Mulligan’s Irish Pub, Espresso Bueno, the American Legion Post #10 and the Barre Elks Lodge.
The council recently learned that Mingle is in jeopardy of losing its first- and third-class liquor licenses. The North Main Street dance club, which opened less than a year ago and is now listed for sale, has a hearing state Liquor Control Board next month.
Councilor Brandon Batham said he assumed that was why Tuper-Giles wanted to hear from Mingle owners Scott and Connor Mears before issuing the entertainment license. However, he wasn’t certain why the license for The Alley Cat was being held up.
“Can you explain the reservation?” he asked, prompting a cryptic response from Tuper-Giles.
“There’s just been a lot of incidents that seem to go on there that never are able to be captured on film unless it benefits them,” Tuper-Giles said, presumably referring to security cameras at the Keith Avenue nightclub.
“When it doesn’t, all of a sudden there’s no footage,” he added. “There’s a lot of subversiveness and I just want to know why?”
Councilors agreed to invite owners to attend a future council meeting, while reserving action on the entertainment license request. Local liquor licenses for both establishments are good through April 30 and renewal requests have not yet been received.
In a Talk of the Town in Thursday’s edition, we misstated the medal World War II veteran Al Besser received from Rep. Peter Welch. It was the Congressional Gold Medal. We regret the error.