ST. ALBANS CITY — The St. Albans City Council held an unusually short meeting Monday night, not an unusual occurrence during the waning days of any given summer.
The agenda included an update regarding Taylor Park fountain restoration, approval of a façade grant, and a liquor license request from the new owners of Back Inn Time.
The council approved a $3,000 façade grant to Tom Murphy, to reimburse him for the work he has done on the Twiggs building and Maple City Candy storefronts.
Marty Manahan, the city’s director of business development, said Murphy had spent about $15,000 in façade repairs on the building. In addition to new awnings, Murphy installed an overhead door in one of the front windows, allowing for it to be used as a small stage for musical performances. There also has been about $3,500 in brickwork on the building.
Murphy, who purchased the locations of Twiggs and Maple City Candy, also has had the façade for the candy shop painted.
Ward 4 Alderman Jeff Young praised the impact Twiggs has had on the city’s nightlife, saying, “I’d give him $3,000 as a ‘thataboy.'”
“I think has really set the stage for other improvements,” said Mayor Liz Gamache.
The city’s public investment in the streetscape improvements to Main Street are “being followed closely by private investment,” said Gamache.
Young provided an update on the fountain improvements, saying the city is likely to hire Robinson Iron, one of the country’s premiere fountain makers and restorers.
However, financing is still an outstanding issue.
“One concern is to get to the price tag, and we’ve got to figure out the funding,” said Gamache.
Previous fundraising efforts have secured about $4,000 for the fountain restoration fund and additional funds will be coming in from the recent Kingman Street Klassic car show. Funds raised so far are a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated cost of restoration, which was initially placed at nearly $500,000. The city has been working to lower that amount.
As the Liquor Control Board, the city granted a liquor license to the new owners of Back Inn Time, the bed and breakfast on Fairfield Street.
Ronald and Karen Murray Pelletier have purchased the inn from Pauline Kray.
Karen Pelletier is an area native, who attended high school at Bellows Free Academy.
Kray, who continues to reside here, purchased the building in 1999 and restored it, said Young. “It became part of our landscape.”
Young asked that the council discuss the formation of a conservation committee at its next meeting. The committee would provide planning and direction for the city’s greenspaces, including the parks, and stormwater management.
The council declined, in a 3-2 vote, to designate September as Recovery Month.
Franklin County Caring Communities had requested the council make the declaration.
Ward 2 Alderman Jim Pelkey opposed the designation on the grounds that the city had previously declined a request to declare a Constitution Day. “I understand that was a little bit of a political football,” said Pelkey, citing the various interpretations of the constitution. “I think to be consistent, we have to deny this request.”
Ward 5 Alderman Ryan Doyle concurred, and Ward 6 Alderman Chad Spooner said he would prefer a mayoral proclamation.
Young disagreed, saying, “It’s a little different when we have a non-profit that’s been publicly supported within the city and is doing work we support.”
“I respect the council’s view on this, but I’m not convinced that just because we didn’t do this before we can’t do it in the future,” said Gamache.
Pelkey, Doyle and Spooner voted “nay;” Gamache and Young, “aye.” Two alderman, Aaron O’Grady and Tim Hawkins, were not present for the vote.