Click photo to enlarge
Aerial shot of the Reformer building at 62 Black Mountain Road.

BRATTLEBORO >> To be on the safe side, another review of the property to be purchased for police relocation will be done.

"The police station design work is continuing apace. But in the purchase, we have had a bit of delay," Town Manager Peter Elwell said at a meeting Tuesday.

At first, the environmental review of 62 Black Mountain Road did not include a suggestion to enter a second phase of assessment. But the consultant revised the recommendation after state officials provided feedback. Elwell said traces of materials used in the printing process were found in the sanitary sewer system. The building is home to the Reformer and a space will be partitioned off to house the newspaper during future renovations.

The state "acted in an abundance of caution," said Elwell, noting the potential for repercussions involving health and liability if a second study was not conducted.

"We don't anticipate finding anything in Phase Two but reassurance there is nothing on the site," he added.

According to Elwell, the property could be enrolled in the state's Brownfields Reuse and Environmental Liability Limitation Program and the town would be free of clean-up liability for environmental issues caused by historical uses of the site. Costs for the assessments and enrollment into the program would be covered by the town's brownfields grant, which is typically used for studies and site cleanups.


The next environmental review is expected to take three to four months to complete, pushing back the purchase of the property from Aug. 10 to sometime in October or November. Design work and permitting processes will continue as planned.

"We're going to get it right up to the starting line. I don't know that there will be any delay in construction," Elwell said.

Nov. 17 is the target date to start construction there.

Replacement of the West Brattleboro Fire Station is expected to come in under initial estimates. Originally, the hope was to have a price tag of $1.3 million or less.

"Then (Project Manager) Steve Horton and the contractor and subcontractor and architect and town staff all worked together to find ways the price could be brought down below the $1.3 million without sacrificing parts of the project," Elwell said. "We were able to improve the product while reducing the price."

The Select Board approved of a guaranteed maximum price of $1,293,800 for the construction of the West Brattleboro Fire Station. The recommendation came via the Police-Fire Facilities Building Committee, which is helping to guide construction of the two fire stations and relocation of the police department.

Removal of the existing West Brattleboro Fire Station was given a $55,000 price tag, which includes meeting conditions from the Development Review Board to make a new retention pond, pave parts of the property and demolish the building. But the figure was separated from the guaranteed maximum price. Several factors still need to be decided on.

The guaranteed maximum price is a contract form used by architects and other groups involved in construction projects, Horton told the board.

"The builder works with us to develop not only plans and specifications but cost management. Along with cost management is not only estimates but accounting," said Horton. "The idea is to monitor every line item and every cost so there's no wild or overrun costs."

Several years ago, he said, new construction in West Brattleboro was anticipated to cost about $1.6 million. The number came down to $1.4 million then $1.2 million.

Some items, like bronze plaques, were taken out of the estimate. But a plan for heating and air ventilation systems was revised. Officials said better energy efficiency and savings were a result of the switch.

The goal is to begin construction during the first week of August and conclude by Feb. 1. The town is still waiting on a permit from the state and the appeal period for the DRB decision to end.

More details on the bond payments will be available at the next meeting. But interest rates were forecasted to be higher going into the project, Elwell said.

"Right now, it's safe to say it won't be as high a cost each year," he said.

At upcoming meetings, designs for Central Fire Station and the police station will be presented to the board. Also, the board is planning to discuss the future of the Municipal Center again.

With the police moving out of the building, board member Dick DeGray said he would like to get the topic on the agenda. There has been talk of having new tenants join the other occupants to fill some space.

"I think it's about time to start that conversation," said DeGray.

Contact Chris Mays at or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.