Architects Sketch Out Four Options For Waterbury Work Force

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(Host) A long awaited report concerning the future of the state office complex in Waterbury has been released. 

Although some of the options would return more than eleven-hundred state employees to Waterbury, other options would bypass the community completely.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) More than 1,500 state employees were displaced when Tropical Storm Irene flooded most of the state office complex in Waterbury in late August. Most of these employees were then relocated to space in Washington and Chittenden counties.

The consulting firm of Freeman, French and Freeman was asked to conduct a feasibility study concerning the future of the state office complex.

Their report lists four options:

— Renovate the existing buildings in Waterbury.

— Renovate the historic buildings, tear down the rest and build a new office building at the site.

— Build a new office building in Montpelier.

— Construct a new building somewhere else in central Vermont.

This last option is the least expensive. It would cost $108 million. Totally renovating the existing buildings in Waterbury is the most expensive option, at a cost of nearly $143 million. The report says it would take roughly three years to complete any of the options. Jesse Beck is one of the lead authors of the report.

(Beck) "We were hired to not make a recommendation or decision but to deliver the facts."

(Kinzel) And Beck says it’s possible to protect the Waterbury options with flood mitigation steps.

(Beck) "By getting things out of the floodway and excavating to make sure that the flows if this does happen again will flow through here unimpeded. You don’t want anything to get in the way to stop that flow of water or to distract it to go elsewhere."

(Kinzel) Lt. Gov. Phil Scott says he felt "sticker shock" when he saw the cost of the four options.

(Scott) "It’s great that they came and put something on the table. But these are from my standpoint, out of reach in terms of dollars at this point. We can work with one of them if we can move in that direction."

(Kinzel) And Scott says lawmakers must select an option before the end of the session.

(Scott) "It is imperative that we make a decision sooner rather than later. I think that there are some who thought, maybe in the Legislature, that this could go into the summer but from my standpoint I think we have to make this decision now."

(Kinzel) Scott says he thinks the best option is to renovate the historic buildings at the Waterbury site and then connect them to a new state office building that would be constructed nearby.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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