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Mischief makers disrupt Main Street construction work

BRATTLEBORO—It may be hard to resist the urge to make one’s mark on a freshly-poured concrete sidewalk, but officials from Lane Construction Corp. and the Vermont Agency of Transportation are hoping that people will rein in their artistic impulses as the Main Street project shifts to sidewalk reconstruction.

Sometime between 8 p.m. and midnight on Thursday, an unknown would-be artist scratched graffiti into just-poured sidewalk panels in front of Centre Congregational Church and the Gibson-Aiken Center. While the graffiti was not malicious or offensive, it will cost an estimated $2,500 to dig up the damaged panels and re-pour new ones, according to Dan Butler, project superintendent for Lane Construction.

“The [Main Street] project has been going smoothly, but now things are starting to happen,” Butler said. “We want people to stay out of the construction area and leave our equipment alone.”

AOT engineer Chris Barker said vandalism prolongs the time needed to complete the work, and that in turn prolongs the disruption.

“We’re doing [the sidewalk work] as fast as we can,“ Butler said, “but if things are moved or damaged, we’re going to have to stay there two more days just to correct any of the damaged areas."

The repairs will also cost the town directly, because the sidewalk work in front of the Gibson-Aiken Center is not part of the Main Street project, but is an add-on being done at the request of the town. The state will pick up the cost of repairs at the Centre Church.

The cool weather on Thursday night also may have played a role in the incident, said Barker, because it took longer for the concrete to harden. It was poured at 4 p.m., and workers left around 8 p.m. with the concrete still a bit soft.

Mischief makers also moved traffic cones and barrels in the downtown construction area early Friday morning. No damage was done, but Barker called it “a safety issue” that could cause pose a potential hazard to motorists.

Butler said the police had been notified and future incidents will be prosecuted. Anyone with information is asked to call the Brattleboro Police at 802-257-7950.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #67 (Wednesday, September 15, 2010).

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