West Brattleboro Fire Station site plans approved


BRATTLEBORO — Site plans to replace the West Brattleboro Fire Station were given the green light Tuesday.

"It looks very similar to what you saw last time around," said Town Manager Peter Elwell, referring to when the project was approved but was then delayed due to the budget being defeated by a town-wide referendum in 2014.

The local permit for the project has expired and town regulations on land use have changed since then. The upgrades are being made to address health, safety and storage concerns. Officials hope construction will begin there in August.

Brattleboro Planning Director Rod Francis showed the Select Board sketches of the overall design proposed at the facility. Adjustments may be made to address code requirements. But the plan was recommended by the Police-Fire Facilities Building Committee and the design team hired by the town. And most of the recommendations around energy efficiency coming from Efficiency Vermont, the town's Energy Committee Chairman Michael Bosworth and the town's Energy Coordinator Paul Cameron were also approved.

Parking at the facility was modified from previous plans.

"You can see there that the apron, where the fire engines would come out, is nearer in the proposed construction to Western Avenue than what is currently existing," said Elwell. "At the end of construction, the intent would be to demolish the existing storage building and create a parking lot."

In other drawings, vehicles would come in from South Street and park perpendicular to that street. That would not meet the town's recently updated land-use regulations, Elwell said.

A permit application will need to be submitted by May 27 in order for the Development Review Board to look at it in June.

"We're hoping to finalize details tomorrow," said Francis. "I don't expect there to be any trouble with the DRB."

Upgrades at Central Fire Station downtown and the Reformer building on Black Mountain Road, where the police department will relocate, are also being planned in an altogether $12 million project.

The town will be going to the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank to join a group whose bonds will be issued in July. The idea of going for a bank loan was explored but ultimately not recommended.

"We learned that the only way for the town to achieve overall cost savings through a bank loan would be to pay substantially higher payments of principal and interest at the beginning of the payback period. This alternative would cause us to exceed our fiscal year 2017 debt service budget by $427,000 and our FY18 property tax increase would be higher than previously estimated to Representative Town Meeting and the public," Elwell wrote in a memo. "Even then, the overall savings are estimated to be only about $117,000 over the 20-year life of the debt."

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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