Friday July 26, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The state is putting off its planned move back into the Main Street office building due to construction delays.

Workers from five state departments were going to move over from their temporary offices this weekend but project manager Lauren Washburn said the state was not able to get its certificate of occupancy this week after a fire and safety inspection. Washburn said, in addition, some damaged equipment was delivered to the site and had to be returned and other materials were delayed, pushing back projects that were lined up behind.

"There are too many things still left to do and we decided that the best thing to do would be to delay the move until it is totally completed," Washburn said. "I think everyone will be happier in the end if we complete the work and don't try to do it piecemeal while people are in the building."

The state started the $2.3-million project on the 20,000-square-foot building in April 2012. The inside of the building is being completely renovated, with all new systems being installed. The 35-year-old building is also getting energy upgrades that will improve its efficiency.

The opening of the state office building at 232 Main Street was already delayed about three months when the former contractor, Baybutt Construction, declared bankruptcy. Local subcontractors walked off the job in February because they were not being paid and it took the state a few months to sort through the mess and get a new contractor on site.


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Work started again in April and just two weeks ago the state made an announcement that staff members would be able to move in the weekend of July 27 and 28.

Washburn said at that time she was hoping that the deliveries and projects would move along smoothly, but she said Thursday that a number of different delays made it impossible to get the certificate of occupancy in time for this weekend's move.

The building houses the Department of Labor, Department of Heath, Department for Children and Families Economic Services and Family Services Division and Health Access, the Agency of Human Services Field Services Division and the Department of Vermont Health Access Chronic Care Initiative.

Most of those staff members have been in temporary offices in the former Linden Lodge and Washburn said the state extended its leases at the temporary offices for another month. The temporary offices were supposed to be cleaned out this weekend, with workers returning to the new offices Monday.

She said the state has not set a new occupancy date yet but hopes to have staff in by the end of August.

"We hoped to be able to be in this weekend, but there are still too many little things left to do," Washburn said. "Everyone will be glad when we are able to get back in."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.