New elevator coming to Transportation Center

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BRATTLEBORO — A rust-damaged elevator at the Transportation Center, recently closed to the public for vandalism that left a telephone used for emergencies broken and where public urination is a cause for concern, will be replaced soon.

At a meeting last Tuesday, the Select Board authorized Town Manager Peter Elwell to hire Bay State Elevator to replace the elevator cab and associated operating fixtures/controls at the Transportation Center for $52,500. Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland said efforts would be made to keep liquids out of the elevator in order to prevent rusting.

"Unfortunately, I have to say we have a condition that occurs there," he said. "With somewhat alarming frequency, someone will urinate in the cab and that's not helpful. And it's beginning to have an impact on the integrity of the structure. So we're going to take the steps to ensure that is mitigated."

Moreland told the board one of the portable toilets recently installed around town can be found across the street and public restrooms are available inside the parking garage from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The elevator had been installed when the parking garage was originally constructed in 2004, according to a town memo. Moreland said it is outdoors, open to the elements and "subject to degradation from weather and from mistreatment by vandals."

The town contracts with Bay State Elevator for regular maintenance and repairs, according to the memo. Elwell wrote that an employee from the company had been concerned when "significant rust damage to the cab" was discovered in fall 2018.

"At the time, it was suggested that while the elevator would pass inspection, it likely would not pass inspection in the future," he wrote. "The 15-year-old cab would need to be replaced."

Town staff previously told the board about the issue when it was considering the fiscal year 2020 parking fund.

The elevator was taken out of service in early September for unrelated reasons, according to the memo.

"The telephone in the elevator was vandalized to the point of being inoperable and it is a violation of the applicable safety codes to operate an elevator that does not have the ability to communicate with emergency services," Elwell wrote. "Because the elevator is already out of service, and in order to avoid paying for a telephone that would be used only for a few months, now is the ideal time to move ahead with the planned cab replacement."

Part of Bay State Elevator's proposal calls for installing "vandal-resistant" items. The company expects the project to take about 120 hours to complete.

Board Vice Chairman Tim Wessel said residents have reached out with concerns about the Transportation Center but he does not share them.

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"The parking garage is probably not meant to be a beautiful, fantastic facility," he said. "There are all kinds of accusations of dirtiness that I didn't actually see when I walked through there today. The lighting is much better because we addressed that community concern."

Wessel called for thinking of the Transportation Center with "a standard of reality."

"I don't really think it should be something where people should walk in and expect to be able to eat off the floor or anything like that," he said. "It's a place where we park our cars. We have to balance our community funds against expectations."

Pete "Nick" Nickerson of Brattleboro asked whether it would be feasible to install a camera inside the elevator cab to "identify the urinators."

"I'm not sure what we would do after we identified them," said Starr.

"Arrest them," said Nickerson.

Elwell said people are not arrested for urinating in the parking garage or public spaces; they are disciplined in a civil not criminal manner.

Board member Elizabeth McLoughlin said she thinks more bathrooms would address the issue. Starr said through installing portable toilets around town, the town will be able to see where more permanent facilities may be needed.

Identifying individuals through security camera footage has proven to be difficult, noted board member David Schoales.

"We got a lot of pushback from people who are very much opposed to having cameras down here," said Wessel.

Elwell said cameras can be found almost everywhere now.

"If you're in a public space or a private space that the public is invited into, you should expect that you're probably on camera," he said. "And that is true to a great extent in the Transportation Center."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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