Montpelier Council Hears Concerns Regarding An Economic Future

IMG_0090.JPGBy: Chelsie Firestone
THE VILLAGE REPORTER

Following the approval of the agenda, April Minutes, and April 2015 Financial Reports at the May 11 Montpelier Village Council Meeting, members of the Montpelier Village Council heard from Chris Kannel of Kannel Insurance regarding concerns he has about the economic future of Montpelier.

In his addressing of council, Kannel noted several positive aspects regarding the Village of Montpelier; including a bustling manufacturing sector; new medium sized retail under construction; low unemployment; and an extraordinary group of graduating seniors with high hopes for the future. However, Kannel also noted that these positives are being offset by a sizeable number of small businesses being closed or sold, empty downtown buildings up for Auditor sale for back taxes, an increasing number of drug arrests and convictions, and more than 50% of students receiving free or reduced lunches.

Kannel explained his belief that “Our community deserves the benefit of an open and honest conversation about the difficulties that we face and a clear vision for how to move forward. It seems that the Mayor has made an effort to that end through his ‘task force’. However, these conversations have not been open to the public and the result of these conversations have not been publicly revealed. Three things have been missing: Many in our community who are deeply concerned about the course of our community have been excluded from these conversations, the opportunity has been lost to share the encouragement of an effort like this with community, the conversations – to my knowledge – have lacked a goal or objective to guide and focus the conversations.”

This need for a plan seemed to work as the center of Kannel’s address to council as he called on council to authorize a community needs assessment, to be conducted by a non-partial entity, and a comprehensive plan update. Kannel expressed his belief that, ideally, a 5 year short term and a 30 year long term plan would involve both stakeholders and civic groups. These stakeholders; including faith (Ministerial Association, Helping Hands, See & Do, Community of Faith), School (Board and Library plus academics, arts, and athletics), parks and recreation, development (planning commission, land holders, developers and industry), downtown (chamber and business owners), and infrastructure (council and administration) and civic groups (Rotary, etc…) could then work together and rely on one another to move Montpelier forward.
Kannel closed his address noting that “Since this effort involves – at its core – the Village of Montpelier, it should be led by the Village and so it is necessary for Council to deliberate and recommend heading in this direction. A ‘plan’ is not THE answer. However, without a plan and a method to work together, we will continue along the slow and difficult path to success that has been so challenging for us to date.”

After Kannel’s closing, Mayor Steve Yagelski addressed Kannel, explaining that Task Force has encountered the continual problem of conflicting schedules, which has made the meeting of those involved, including the Planning Commission, a difficult proposal at best.

Kannel’s request to investigate and perform a cost analysis of a Comprehensive Plan and a Community Needs Assessment did gain Council’s approval after some discussion. It is hoped that, once a cost of such work is established, that grant monies will be able to be found to help defray the cost to the Village. Qualifications of firms who perform this type of work will be sought out at the same time as bid proposals are requested.

During the meeting, council also:

•Commended the Montpelier Electric Department for their recent receipt of the APPA National Safety Award,

•Approved the Application of Adam Helms for the Montpelier Fire Department,

•Approved the renewal of property and liability insurance through V.S. Beck Insurance, and

•Heard the Income Tax Report

Council entered into Executive Session for the purpose of discussing personnel with no action to be taken.

The next meeting of the Montpelier Village Council is currently slated for Tuesday, May 26. However, there was discussion during the meeting that this meeting may be cancelled, unless pressing matters arise, due to the absence of some village officials.

Chelsie can be reached at
chelsie@thevillagereporter.com

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