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Royalton Fire Asks Voters To OK Bond

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/8/2018 11:35:44 PM
Modified: 8/8/2018 11:36:06 PM

South Royalton — After years of planning, Royalton Fire District officials are asking voters to approve a $270,000 bond to repair damage done to Lake John Dam by Tropical Storm Irene.

About 45 percent of that amount, $121,500, is expected to be covered by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant, with the remaining $148,500 resulting in a $7,095 annual debt payment.

That annual payment is expected to be largely offset by the expiration of an existing $6,900 annual debt payment, and so water rates for the district’s roughly 175 customers (some customers, such as the Vermont Law School, serve many people) will not increase as a result of the project, according to officials.

The expiring debt is the repayment of a grant to fund preliminary engineering for a different project, Victoria Paquin, the fire district administrator, said on Wednesday. Because that project never happened, the district is obligated to repay the USDA for the engineering grant.

“Altogether, the annual debt service that is paid by the fire district for the water system is approximately $60,000,” Paquin said.

With a vote scheduled for next week, Royalton Fire District #1 Prudential Committee Chairman Keith Grimes disseminated a summary of the Lake John Dam Improvement Project, which says the earthen dam, constructed in the early 1900s, has never been upgraded.

The 5.1 million gallons of water that are impounded by the dam serve as a secondary source of water for the town; the primary water source is the White River, out of which water is pumped to a treatment plant on Pluck Hill.

Significant damage during Irene in 2011 exacerbated an ongoing decline in the Lake John dam’s systems; an emergency repair was undertaken at that time, and the town has been seeking a long-term fix ever since.

With the dam’s outflow structure completely clogged and its emergency-outflow pipe damaged, the money would pay for replacing that system with a concrete spillway that would be able to handle the outflow in both normal and emergency situations.

The proposed project also would build a new water line to deliver water from the lake to the water treatment plant, reconstruct an access road and repurpose a portion of an existing water main as a drain.

The details of the fixes were identified after 2016, when the district received a $22,000 grant from the USDA Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program to do preliminary engineering and environmental impact assessments.

In June, fire district board members voted to forward the project after hearing from a USDA Rural Development representative, who advised that they move quickly because funding is available and interest rates are low, according to meeting minutes.

Paquin said that, while the interest rate has yet to be determined, officials expect it will be around 2.75 percent.

The lake is named for John Wellington Woodward, a painter and house decorator who owned a ho use below the lake after moving to the town in 1867, according to Mary Evelyn Wood Lovejoy’s 1911 book A History of Royalton, Vermont.

Woodward was a member of the Royalton Improvement Association, which leased the lakeshore for several years to use as the site of an annual community picnic, according to Lovejoy.

Woodward also was a member of the White River Horticultural Society, and was appointed the first master of the Rising Sun Lodge.

The Australian ballot voting is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the White River Valley School Cafeteria on South Windsor Street.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at mhonghet@vnews.com.




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