Shaftsbury town garage project complete

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SHAFTSBURY — After years of conversations, an effort to build a new town garage is complete.

"In the last few weeks, the final little details were taken care of at the garage," said Tim Scoggins, Select Board chairman, when reached Wednesday.

The town is in the process of moving operations over to the new garage, as time permits.

"We're leaving it up to the foreman," Scoggins said of the timeline. The town has had to a lot of "scrambling" lately, because of all the rain, he said.

"We're doing a lot of catch-up on the roads," he said. The town hopes to hold an open house in the new location in July — a lot of the equipment should be moved by then, he said.

The new garage is on North Road. The completion marks the end of an effort to replace the old building on Buck Hill Road that was thought to be approaching the end of its life about nine years ago.

The project also included a new, open-air transfer station facility, and the demolition of the old transfer station building. The new transfer station, which is on the same property as the new garage, has been operating since the beginning of the year, Town Administrator David Kiernan previously said. Voters approved pursuing a $1.1 million bond to fund the construction of the garage in March 2017. That proposal passed 469-401. Total project costs were $1.45 million; the town had saved about $375,000 that they used toward the project, Kiernan previously said. The town had been grappling with the need to replace the old garage, which was built in 1969, for years.

In 2015, the Select Board toured the new town highway garage in Rupert, and asked Morton Construction, which had designed that building, to design a garage that would meet Shaftsbury's needs.

The effort to replace the old building began in 2010, and the issue was discussed in the early 2000s as well.

Two previous bond votes for a new garage had failed in March and November 2013.

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"It was, essentially, just rotting away," Scoggins previously said of the old garage. "The structural strength of the roof was not up to code anymore, so it did not support the snow load that modern code requires."

The building also wasn't big enough for the equipment, and it was in the middle of town, near the school.

"The current garage is in an industrial zone, on land that the town owns," Scoggins previously said. "All of the trucks and dust and noise will now be out of the village center."

The new building will enable workers to load up trucks with salt and gravel and park them inside, ready for plowing.

Kiernan previously described the old garage as "totally inadequate for any kind of operation."

The building was far too small, and wasn't designed for larger modern trucks. It also had terrible facilities and lacked proper ventilation, he said.

"It's just an old, tired building, and it makes it very difficult to get anything done," he said. "It's just a cramped, difficult environment to work in."

The new location was always a candidate for the garage site. When a previous Select Board thought about building a new garage, they considered keeping it in the same place as the old one, Scoggins previously said. But, "For a variety of reasons, it was decided that the better location was out of town — out of the middle of town," he said.

The bond vote did not raise taxes, as the town had previously approved allocating $75,000 annually to a reserve fund to pay for the building, Kiernan said. Now, that yearly allocation is being used to pay back the bond, he said.

Bond repayment is about $75,000 per year for 20 years, he said. Repayment started in 2018.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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