While the town has not heard officially from the Vermont Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) agency, unofficially the town has heard that it will get at least another $150,000 in funds toward its town office.
Waitsfield has previously received a CDBG grant of $750,000 toward construction of a new town office. Voters authorized an additional $650,000 in bond funds and the town received a donation of $100,000, the price of the Farm Stand parcel at the north end of the village where the office is to be built.
CUTS TO THE PROJECT
The town had requested an additional $230,000 in grant funding after the bids came in higher than expected and after the initial design of the building was changed to include a finished second story and $84,154 in additions and alterations. The total cost of the project was anticipated at $1,646,935, $230,000 more than the total funds the town had available.
The select board had previously discussed what cuts to the project would be made if no further grant funds were received and will now revisit that discussion. The final amount of additional grant funding will not be known until June 15 and the town has until June 18 to accept or reject the low bid.
The select board discussed the project at its meeting on May 18, but not before hearing from residents and voters about another prospect for the town office, the People’s United Bank building which will be vacated and sold after the bank closes that branch in July.
CONVERT THE BANK
Marie Leotta read into the record her objections to the current town office plans and her skepticism about architect Bill Gallup’s initial assessment of how much it would cost to buy and convert the bank into a town office.
Leotta also suggested that the Farm Stand site had been the location of a fuel spill and that it was contaminated and would take over a half a million dollars to clean up. Town administrator Valerie Capels explained that as part of the environmental review for the project the soils had been tested and found to be clean.
“Are you asking the select board to reopen this discussion?” asked resident Chessie Stevenson.
“Yes,” Leotta said, before the board reminded her that getting complete financial costs associated with the bank is the town’s intention.
ASK BANK TO DONATE BUILDING
Resident Michael Sharkey urged the board to contact the president of the bank to request that the bank donate the building to the town, or sell it for a nominal fee, like a dollar, to generate goodwill.
“I’d like to make People’s United Bank a partner to helping us come up with the cheapest solution. Write them a letter and explain that we have a 45-year relationship with them,” Sharkey urged.
Town administrator Valerie Capels said she would continue compiling as much information as she could before the select board’s next meeting on June 1. She also said that while the additional $150,000 would get the project over the hump, it would mean that some of the add/alts were not viable.
CLERK OF THE WORKS
She told the board that the CDBG people were OK with the town saving $22,000 by using Maclay Architects as a clerk of the works rather than hiring a clerk of the works.
The board discussed further when they should ask the town office design committee to decide where cuts would have to be made.
“Let’s ask the design committee to start working on this so it’s ready to go when we get the official word on how much additional funding we’re getting,” said board member Logan Cooke.
“I think we’ve already done that with the add/alts,” board member Scott Kingsbury said.
“We could take out the parking lot paving. We could take out a lot of things,” he added.
“Why delay this? If we delay we’ll waste a month kicking around ideas,” Cooke said.
After further input from Sharkey and Stephenson who urged the select board to write to the president of People’s United Bank, Kingsbury made a motion to have the two residents write such a letter and present it to the board for review at the June 1 meeting. The motion passed.