ST. ALBANS — On Town Meeting Day, voters will decide whether they want the city to bond for a brand new pool at Hard’ack, a new water tower and the beautification of Kingman Street as a part of the downtown redevelopment projects, according to St. Albans City Manager Dominic Cloud.
“Residents of St. Albans have been very supportive of past projects. ... My hope is that they understand the need for these in order for the city to move forward,” Mayor Tim Smith said on Tuesday.
“The biggest one is the pool,” Cloud said.
The community pool, which would be built at Hard’ack Recreation Area, was originally proposed as a $5.5 million collective project between the City of St. Albans and St. Albans Town, but when the amount was passed by voters in the city, it failed in the town.
So this week, a revised proposal was submitted to the City Council that reduced costs by about $750,000 for the pool and provided an allowance for renovations to be made, additionally, to Houghton Park recreational area.
Now the $5 million bond amount for the pool at Hard’ack Recreational Area will be put to the city voters alone, to build a brand new pool for city residents, with an annual debt service estimated at $300,000 per year.
“These payments will be made for city residents by the local option tax, and by non-residents through user fees. Construction costs will not be paid for by city property taxes,” the proposal said.
The local option tax is a sales tax on purchases by residents made both in the city and on the internet, Cloud said.
Cloud said it would be the largest ever investment in the park, and would serve to renovate and update the splash pad. The plan would also create and update a snack bar, restrooms, a free lunch site and even a community ride share that Cloud called the “Aqua Van,” which would transport city residents to the new pool at Hard’ack.
“(It will be a) city-owned van with a bike rack that will circulate and pick up kids with bikes and ride them up the hill,” Cloud said. “It will play good tunes...It’ll be cool to ride the van.”
Other investments include the street-scaping of Kingman Street to make the area more attractive and traffic-friendly.
The proposal states the remodeling of Kingman Street will involve new curbs and sidewalks, utility infrastructure and replacements, sineage and line striping.
Cloud said the plans may also include ornamental street lights, landscaping and banners welcoming visitors to that section of town, revitalizing the identity and sense of place in the heart of St. Albans.
“It’s’ sending a message,” Cloud said. “We’re investing in ourselves, and others should too...The city’s on a roll.”
“I think the general public and myself will be happy to see it look just like Main Street,” Smith said. “We expect that we can expand that traffic down Kingman Street, make it more walkable for visitors to the community. It will enhance and grow businesses that choose to relocate there.”
One million dollars in Tax Increment Financing was proposed for the Kingman Street project, and the total estimated cost of the project is $1.9 million, with 51% of it to be financed through TIF funding, according to the proposal.
Kingman Street is the last of four target streets to be street-scaped — Lake Street, Federal Street and Main Street were previously renovated — before Cloud said hopefully the city will begin the next phase of the project.
“We’ll start working with private property owners to fix up their property,” Cloud said.
City officials intimated the community investment in city street development is the result of longstanding collaboration between the city and its residents to create a community that reflects them: a great place to work, a great place to visit, and a great place to live on the largest lake in New England, just over a dozen miles from the Canadian border and outside of the hustle of Burlington.
The water tower
As far as the city’s new water tower goes? The city’s proposal detailed that the estimated project at completion would cost $2.3 million and is slated for completion in 2022 to replace the Aldis Hill storage tank originally built in 1953.
The tank holds approximately 1 million gallons, where the state regulations mandate 1.2 million gallons, but expanding the existing tank is not possible due to high system pressures, city officials said.
“(The water tank) is meat and potatoes: we need more storage capacity,” Cloud said. “There’s very favorable financing right now. This is the time to take care of projects like the water tower.”