ST. ALBANS CITY — Although portions of Ferris Street running through the Bellows Free Academy (BFA) campus are closed to vehicular traffic, they are still technically the property of St. Albans City. At Monday night’s meeting the city council restarted the process of turning those sections of the street over to Bellows Free Academy.
The council also authorized the use of $275,000 in reserve funds to begin purchasing replacement filters and other equipment for the Fairfax water.
“It’s not a discretionary project,” said city manager Dominic Cloud of the water plant issue. “The filter is beyond its useful life and we need to replace it.”
The project is ultimately expected to cost $700,000 and the $45,000 in anticipated annual bond payments has been added to the city’s water fund budget, beginning with the current fiscal year.
City voters will be asked to approve the bond for the water filters this fall. However, Cloud asked the council to approve use of the reserve funds to begin the process of purchasing the needed equipment directly from suppliers. According to engineers working on the project, direct purchase will save the city money.
“If the bond fails, we’ll have to go back to the voters or some other projects won’t get done,” said Cloud.
The council unanimously approved the use of reserve funds for the equipment purchase.
The city and BFA began the process of shifting the ownership of portions of Ferris Street in 1997, but never completed it, explained engineer Peter Cross.
Because of safety concerns, the high school is now seeking to gain control of the land between its two buildings, according to Dave Kimel who spoke for BFA. “This step was really instigated by the St. Albans Police Department,” said Kimel. Ownership of the land will enable the school and police to enforce the school’s safety regulations on that property.
Under the arrangement, the city would transfer 0.25 acres of street, beginning at the northeast corner of the Miller’s auto shop building and continuing east to the cul-de-sac driveway to the school, explained Cross. The city would retain the right to access below ground infrastructure.
In return the school would transfer two smaller sections of the cul-de-sac and what appears to be a catch basin to the city.
The arrangement would formalize current practice, with sections used by the public being transferred to the city and sections used by the school going to the school, suggested Kimel.
Asked about neighborhood residents who walk the closed portions of Ferris Street across the BFA campus to get downtown, Kimel said there are no immediate plans to close the campus to the public, but such steps could be taken in the future.
“There’s a possibility someday the school will block that property,” said Kimel. “It is by no means contemplated at this time.”
The council voted to begin the process of discontinuing that section of Ferris Street and making the property exchange with the school.
The council also approved a $14,600 Dept. of Justice grant for the purchase of communication equipment by the police department. The city does not have to supply any matching funds.
On Monday, the council also approved a $14,600 Dept. of Justice grant for the purchase of communication equipment by the police department. The city does not have to supply any matching funds.