Friday October 12, 2012

NEAL P. GOSWAMI

Staff Writer

SHAFTSBURY -- Vermont State Police are hosting a public forum next week concerning the potential relocation of the Shaftsbury barracks.

The Vermont State Police and the Department of Buildings and General Services are undertaking a comprehensive review of VSP facilities across the state. The studies aim to outline the agency's needs, deficiencies within existing facilities, potential land for new sites and estimated program costs. The facility studies will be combined to generate a long-term plan to determine how to best provided services to Vermonters, VSP spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro said.

BGS began a search over the summer for 6 to 10 acres of land between Bennington and Sunderland along the Route 7 corridor. The land would ideally have easy access to Route 7 and Route 7A, according to state officials. The state was seeking responses by Aug. 9.

A similar search for land is taking place throughout the state for other VSP locations. Vermont State Police Maj. William Sheets said the Department of Public Safety is searching for sites as it looks to develop a plan to replace or consolidate 12 main VSP barracks and two smaller substations. A report from DPS is due back to the Legislature on Jan. 15.

Four barracks -- Derby, New Haven, St. Albans and Royalton -- have already been replaced. DPS is now focusing on possibly consolidating other barracks.

Consolidation of the Brattleboro and Rockingham barracks is likely to be next, according to Sheets. He said that project was funded by the Legislature, but issues developed that prevented a closing on a land deal. That money is not available until the 2014 fiscal year, if the land issues are resolved.

DPS is also looking at consolidating the Bradford and St. Johnsbury barracks.

The four remaining barracks -- Williston, Middlesex, Rutland and Shaftsbury -- are likely to remain by themselves, according to Sheets. Officials will look to prioritize which barracks to upgrade first after reviewing land proposals, he said.

The public forum will be held on Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Arlington Fire Department. The public is encouraged to attend and provide feedback from people in the Shaftsbury area.