WESTMINSTER — The Vermont State Police will have to wait just a little while longer before moving into a new barracks due to stormwater issues.
"The building is ready to be occupied," said Bob Rea, director of facilities and operations for the state's Buildings and General Services. "A certificate of occupancy has been completed. The equipment has been moved in so that when (the Department of) Public Safety does get ready and we can give them the go-ahead, they can start functioning as a public safety facility. From our standpoint, because Public Safety wanted to be in by June, now they'll be happy if it's July."
The newly constructed $6.2-million, 16,600-square-foot police barracks, located on Westminster Heights Road near Exit 5 of Interstate 91, will be home to troopers currently stationed in Brattleboro and Rockingham.
Westminster Town Manager Russell Hodgkins said the facility originally was designed to have a retention stormwater permit, meaning the water would stay on the site and soak into the ground. He had worried the plan would not last for the long term and expressed that concern before construction began. He said he was assured by engineers the pond would hold up in a 100-year-flood event.
But project leaders are now working with the town to address a portion of the stormwater running off the barracks' land onto adjoining property owned by the town after material was taken off the barracks property and disposed of illegally. The town was named in a notice of an alleged violation issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
"Water that used to run off our property ran off in various ways but there was one water course that was used. By dumping the material there, it kind of redirected the water," said Rea. "Our original design called for all water to be retained on the site but the water did not percolate into the ground as originally anticipated so the design had to be changed to a detention pond."
When notified of an alleged violation, Hodgkins said the town did not know it owned the land in question. The property was acquired when it gave up a right-of-way to Green Mountain Power.
"The water came over the bank and washed over a pretty big gouge of natural land and trees," said Hodgkins. "We've been negotiating for a good two months about who was responsible, what's going to happen eventually and who's going to be in charge of paying for the new fix to their problem. The state has stepped up and said they would take care of all of it."
The town has been waiting on a new design, according to Hodgkins, who said he has offered input on what the town would like to see. The project will be heard at a Development Review Board meeting on June 6.
Plans are being changed so that a stormwater detention pond will be constructed rather than a retention pond. Rea said the state will maintain the pond.
Site designs had to be resubmitted to the town and state. Rea said construction of the pond can begin once permits are obtained.
"We're waiting on an amended Act 250 permit. We're also waiting for our construction permit, which expired on May 15. We're waiting for that to be renewed. With everything going on, that permit expired. We had expected to be done with everything," said Rea. "We want to be good neighbors with the town. We told the town we'd be responsible for putting the remediation in even though we didn't dump the fill in there. Water's coming from our site. We don't want to shackle the town with this responsibility forever."
On Wednesday, District 2 Coordinator Stephanie Gile said she received an application for the Act 250 permit but did not have a chance to review it.
"We're on the mend and looking forward to putting this to rest," said Hodgkins.
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.