While the item was not on Monday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting agenda, Rutland City residents dominated the time allotted for public comment with concerns for the city’s Syrian refugee program.

Mayor Chris Louras made the announcement the city would accept 100 Syrian refugees on April 26th.

“Mayor Louras stated that Rutland City will be a refugee resettlement city until it no longer has the capacity to accept refugees.. Who provides that assessment?” Rutland resident Matt Howland asked.

Soon, city residents will see a new petition circulate. The petition calls for a special City of Rutland meeting and proposes the question, “shall the City of Rutland decline to participate in a refugee resettlement program at this time, and so advise the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, in accordance with federal law, or policies associated with the program?”

The petition needs at least five percent of registered voters in the City of Rutland, but petition organizer David Trapeni believes he will get “about 3,000 people to sign it.”

Other residents are embracing the program, such as the newly formed “Rutland Welcomes” community outreach group.

The group held its first meeting last Wednesday, with at least 175 members forming 17 committees to help with everything from finding an apartment, to orientation to public transportation.

“We were there to come up with ideas and strategies of how we could welcome these 100 refugees into our community and how we could provide Rutland style support to them once they arrive,” Rutland Welcomes organizer Carol Tashie said.

The Rutland City Board of Alderman’s Committee of the Whole will meet Wednesday, May 25, with the refugee resettlement as the sole agenda item.