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Moretown town offices coming along slowly

Currently, the town has submitted all but one item required for the project's environmental assessment, which is pending approval by the state. Once approved, Moretown can put the construction of the new local government building out to bid.

The environmental assessment, which was completed by Ross Environmental Associates, was a requirement of the $700,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Moretown received last summer to build the new town offices, which will be located in the village on the current site of the Moretown Elementary School playground.

This week, Moretown Town Office Committee chair Clark Amadon said the environmental assessment "seems to have taken an extraordinarily long time," in part because the town was waiting on students from the University of Vermont to conduct an archaeological review of the site to ensure there were no pre-Columbian artifacts.

In the end, "they didn't find anything," Amadon said of the students, and now he's working on one last item required by the environmental assessment in which the town must show that it considered other locations before deciding on one that falls within the 500-year floodplain, "albeit with mitigation to raise it out of the floodplain," Amadon clarified.

Moretown Town Office Committee first came together in December of 2011 to conduct an all-inclusive survey of sites on which to rebuild, ultimately selecting Moretown Elementary School playground as the best option. In the meantime, Moretown established temporary town offices at Kaiser Drive on Route 2 in a building the town leases from Moretown Landfill.

Last November, Moretown residents voted 118 to 30 to approve up to $40,000 in short-term borrowing to construct the new town offices, which will cost an estimated $865,286. The town's out-of-pocket expense will be offset by the $700,000 CDBG, over $120,000 in insurance money and $25,000 from the town's Deeryard Fund, which is dedicated "use for children" and will pay to construct a new playground on the other side of the school.

Taking into account this available funding, the town's out-of-pocket expense for the new town offices comes in at about $5,000, and Moretown Town Office Committee asked the town to approve up to $40,000 in short-term borrowing to allow for overrun costs of a little less than 5 percent of the total cost.

Once the environmental assessment is approved, funds from CDBG will be made available to the town. Because of the time it's taken Moretown to do the assessment "starting the project this calendar year is unlikely," Amadon said, but he suspects construction of the new town offices will at least go out to bid by "early or mid-fall."

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