Archery Building proposals go to Selectboard

Friday November 9, 2012

BRATTLEBORO - The fate of the Archery Building is now in the hands of the Brattleboro Selectboard.

At Tuesday night's Selectboard meeting the board set a date to interview representatives from the two groups that want to take over the historic building at 26 Depot St., along the Connecticut River near the Hinsdale Bridge.

The board will hold interviews at 5:15 p.m. before its next meeting on Nov. 20.

Those interviews will be held in open session.

A town committee that was set up to review the proposals has done its work, which includes commenting on the two plans, and the Selectboard will now consider both plans and decide which organization will get a shot at renovating and developing the property.

Fulcrum Arts, the group led by glassblower Randi Solin and ceramic artist Natalie Blake, and ArtsWorks, which is being led by Alan Steinberg of Brattleboro Clayworks, each want to lease the town's former train station and build studios, galleries and classrooms.

The ad-hoc committee that was set up to go through the plans made comments on how the proposals conformed to the Town Pan, how well the plan conformed to criteria the town set up for the project, as well as on the financial feasibility of the proposals.

The town has refused to release the plans, or the comments, but Selectboard Chairman Dick DeGray said Wednesday that the comments will be available before the meeting and he said the interviews will be open to the public.

"We will get the material before the interviews and the interviews will be held in open session. There was never any plan to interview them in executive session," DeGray said. "This has been a public process from the start and the board will look at both business plans and then make a decision and move forward."

Once one of the groups is selected, then the board will negotiate the lease behind closed doors, DeGray said.

The town has been working to redevelop the waterfront property near Union Station for more than three decades, and the parking area, bus stop and green space was opened to the public this summer.

The historic building was not torn down as part of the development, but the town does not have money to redevelop the structure so it asked the public to come up with ideas for its use.

While the Selectboard will have to negotiate the details with the eventual developer, it is believed that the town will lease the property for little money, but the developer will have to come up with all of the construction and maintenance funding.

About two dozen people showed up for a tour when the building was opened this summer, but in the end only Fulcrum Arts and ArtsWorks submitted proposals before the Sept. 12 deadline.

Fulcrum Arts wants to develop a high-end school and gallery.

Blake says the proximity of the train station, and of the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center would support the group's plans to draw artists and aspiring craftspeople to the site to take classes and visit the galleries. Their plan includes putting an addition on the building.

Steinberg from ArtsWorks has a vision of linking the Archery Building with the rest of Brattleboro's growing arts community, and of providing new gallery space for artists around Windham County.

Steinberg said his plan would highlight the town's access to the Connecticut River and would also strengthen the town's argument to have it designated as a state-approved craft center, which could lead to more grant funding.

Now the Selectboard will choose one of those two plans to determine the future of the riverfront property.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.


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