The list of repairs and renovations is daunting: Utility installation; paving; landscaping; masonry; structural metal framing; carpentry; waterproofing; new doors and windows; acoustical ceilings; toilets; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; a complete electrical system; telephone and data lines ....
That’s just a short list of what will need to be done to make the Archery Building on Depot Street usable again.
In 2006, Brattleboro bought the building as part of the ongoing Union Station project, which is expected to be finished sometime this summer.
The project is meant to clean up the blight along Brattleboro’s waterfront and give those riding the trains a better impression of the town. A long-term vision for the location includes a small park, access to the river and perhaps a walking trail.
For 20 years the town has been looking at ways to improve the location.
Several years ago it got a large sum of money from the federal government for its multi-modal project, which included construction of the parking garage between Elliot and Flat streets and work on Union Station.
The plan for the train station called for renovations to the current waiting room, the restrooms and the office. It also called for a glass canopy over the platform.
But five years ago, the project was put on hold while the FTA conducted an audit of how the money was being spent. Though no wrongdoing was found to have
Now the town is just finishing up landscaping and installing a bus turnaround and parking spaces on the site.
And while several decrepit buildings on the site have been torn down, the Archery Building, which was built in 1849, haunts the location with its ramshackle appearance.
Because it’s considered an historic building, Brattleboro can’t just knock it down without jumping through hoops. Even though the town owns the building, funds to rehabilitate the property are scarce, so it’s looking for a private partner to fix it up and do something ... anything ... with it.
Recently, Brattleboro issued a request for proposals and is looking for someone with a solid business plan, reliable funding sources and ideas for what might make the best use of the building once it’s fixed up.
What that might be is unclear, but in its 160 years it has been used for railyard storage, the Chicago Meatpacking Plant, Swifts Choice Beef Mutton Pork and Provisions, a beer and wine warehouse and the Archery and Outdoor Outfitters.
Despite how long it’s taken, and how much longer it might take, the desire to clean up the area and make it comfortable for all is a noble one.
It’s a wonderful location, in close proximity to the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center, the Marlboro College Graduate Center, the new Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery and the sparkling new Brattleboro Food Co-op.
And, of course, it’s just a short jaunt to all the wonderful shops on Main Street.
So we hope that whomever decides to take on the inimitable task of rehabilitating the Archery Building, they keep the character of the town in mind and have a vision as grand as the river rolling by.
We look forward to the day when the entire site is cleaned up and ready for anyone who wants to spend a few minutes there.