Brattleboro's Melrose Terrace will be demolished for flood mitigation
BRATTLEBORO >> The decision to demolish the Melrose Terrace apartment buildings was not made lightly.
"After extensive engineering, planning and analysis, we have determined that it is in the best interest of the entire community for the future use of the land at Melrose Terrace to be used for the [Whetstone] Brook and flood hazard area water storage," the Brattleboro Housing Partnerships Board of Commissioners said in statement during its regular meeting on Oct. 24.
Brattleboro Housing Partnerships Executive Director Christine Hart told the Reformer the board worked with town staff about what to do with the property. The plan includes removing 11 buildings, widening the brook and adding a box culvert to the George Miller Bridge. The entire housing complex will eventually be eliminated.
An application for Federal Emergency Management Agency pre-disaster mitigation funds to help with the project was submitted. Other avenues of funding are being explored.
Some Melrose Terrace residents will be leaving soon.
"We're moving 55 people to Red Clover Commons, our new building," Hart said, referring to the new complex at 30 Fairground Road, which should be ready for occupancy in November. "That's going to be starting in the next few weeks. By the end of the year, the worst four buildings will be empty here, then we'll continue to empty the buildings."
Red Clover has 55 units and Melrose has 80, meaning 25 people will need to be relocated elsewhere.
Tropical Storm Irene definitely affected the decision. But other flooding events did not go unnoticed. They were occurring more often with worse damage, said Hart.
"Being in the Whetstone Watershed, it's become more of a flood risk over the years," she said. "Now, it's really not a space that should be occupied by anyone."
Word on FEMA funding is anticipated some time next year.
Melrose has been around since 1965.
"We appreciate the public interest and suggestions that we have received about how to best use this land. We gave considerable and careful thought to your comments and suggestions in reaching our final decision," the board of commissioners stated. "We agree with all those who have stated that this population should not be in such a highly flood-prone area. We believe no should live in an area that possesses the flood danger this area now does. The future of Melrose Terrace is to play a significant and critical role in floodway management for the Whetstone Watershed and town of Brattleboro."
Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.
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