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Selectboard seeks residents’ input on Police-Fire Facilities Project

Residents have until Jan.18 to return survey

BRATTLEBORO—Residents with burning opinions about the Police-Fire Facilities Project can file their input with the Selectboard through a new questionnaire until Monday, Jan. 18.

The board has created a survey for residents that details different aspects of rehabilitation plans for the town’s three emergency stations.

The survey, conducted both electronically and in print, details estimated project costs and asks questions such as, “Do you believe this work should be done at this cost?”

Conversations about the buildings’ challenges started in the late 1960s. Attempts to correct life-safety challenges, fix structural issues, and bring the buildings into the current century have gone around and around in Brattleboro in earnest since the 1980s.

Selectboard members are considering three alternatives for the project. One of the alternatives includes moving the Police Department to Black Mountain Road.

Project costs range from $5.4 million to $11.8 million. This range includes the $5 million borrowed in 2013 before the project was put on hold by the board after a town-wide budget referendum.

Project supporters characterize the buildings as unsafe and not meeting the departments’ needs. Supporters also feel that it’s unfair of the town to expect its emergency responders to work in substandard and dangerous buildings.

Opponents argue that while safety of town employees is important, the multi-million project itself would require tax increases that would put an unfair burden on residents.

At the board’s Jan. 5 meeting, Chair David Gartenstein voiced his support for keeping the police station at the Municipal Center.

In his opinion, the benefits of moving to Black Mountain Road do not justify the project costs.

“I was never sold on the Black Mountain Road alternative since it first came up,” Gartenstein said.

Vice-Chair Kate O’Connor agreed.

“I’ve not been keen on the idea of moving to Black Mountain Road,” she said.

But, O’Connor continued, “We have to do this project.” She said that finding a way to do the project that’s affordable and palpable to taxpayers is also important.

Board member David Shoales said he wasn’t sure about the minimum rehabilitation alternative Gartenstein supported for the police station at the Municipal Center.

This option might not resolve all the building’s issues and could require additional work within 20 years, he said.

A third, more-expensive, option would keep the police at the Municipal Center but also make more substantial changes to the building.

Residents should submit their surveys by Jan. 18.

Town staff will publish the survey results on the town’s website (www.brattleboro.org). The board will discuss the survey at its Jan. 19 meeting.

To obtain a copy of the survey, go to the “News” section on the right side of the website and choose one of two links: “Police-Fire Facilities Project Questionnaire (Survey Monkey)” at www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFSF6R5) or a printable PDF version through “Police-Fire Facilities Project Questionnaire.”

One may also contact the Town Manager’s Office at 802-251-8151 or via email at townmanager@brattleboro.org, or pick up a copy at Brooks Memorial Library or the Town Clerk’s Office.

Residents can submit a survey electronically through Survey Monkey or via email to townmanager@brattleboro.org. They can mail or hand-deliver it to the Brattleboro Town Manager’s Office, 230 Main St,, Suite 208, Brattleboro, VT 05301.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #339 (Wednesday, January 13, 2016). This story appeared on page A3.

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