Trustees talk $6.2 million bond for deficient infrastructureBy Jason Starr The Essex Reporter
Essex Junction’s most pressing road, bridge and waterline needs have been identified by a citizen committee that prioritized a list of roughly 40 potential projects.
The committee recommended five projects totaling $6.2 million to the Village Trustees earlier this month to be completed as soon as possible. The projects and cost estimates are as follows:
- School Street: Leaking water lines ($725,000)
- Main Street: Bridge replacement over Indian Brook; sidewalk rebuild from Educational Road to Athens Drive; curb and drainage improvements ($2.7 million)
- Hillcrest Drive: Drainage improvements ($275,000)
- Briar Lane: Road and sidewalk replacement; waterline rebuild ($2.2 million)
- Algonquin Avenue: New waterline installation ($193,000)
The village annually contributes roughly $390,000 to a capital fund for infrastructure projects, “so there’s a (funding) gap — modest one,” trustee Andrew Brown understated when he presented the list to his fellow trustees. The $6.2 million estimate says nothing about the other 35 projects on the list of needs that the committee was working from. The committee continues to meet to discuss potential funding sources.
“Input so far is for bonding instead of a new tax,” said Brown. “So we’ll keep that in mind as we go forward.”
Village president George Tyler said a $6.2 million bond to cover the five priority projects “would catch us up, but we still have a significant backlog.”
“We also need to get into the conversation about what it is we are okay living with,” Brown said.
The five priority projects were chosen based on a set of criteria including health and safety, economic development, grant availability and linkages to existing village infrastructure. From leaking water lines to a compromised Main Street bridge, Tyler said the village can’t live with existing conditions in the chosen areas.
“These are things we have to get done,” he said.
“We’re going to need much more than the usual ($390,000) infusion of cash we transfer from the general fund every year (for capital improvements),” Tyler continued. “That’s something we’ll have to ponder. And if we are going to put a bond out there, we’re going to have to get it ready for April.”
The Annual Village Meeting in April is when voters would have a chance to approve or reject a bond request.