Brattleboro Municipal Center: Town, state in talks about sharing building space

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BRATTLEBORO — A plan between the town and state could mean the "complete modernization and overhaul" of the Municipal Center, according to Select Board Chairman David Gartenstein.

"There's been very, very exciting progress that's been made with respect to the potential future of the Municipal Center," Gartenstein said Wednesday at an informational session for Representative Town Meeting. "We have been actively in negotiations for a significant period of time, earnest negotiations with the state of Vermont. We don't have final commitment at this time and the details of the plan are not a point where they can be shared."

Bill Laferriere, director of property management, leasing and buying and sales for the state, told the Reformer that no letter of intent had been executed and the two parties were involved in "very preliminary discussions."

The building, he said, is "certainly of interest to us."

"If there's renovation and opportunity for space, we would like to at least hear about it," he added.

There had been questions over the future of the Municipal Center as the Select Board considered then approved of budgeting for improvements to bring the building up to life-safety standards and address energy efficiency. And Town Meeting members last year approved the police-fire project that will see the police department moving out of the building and into 62 Black Mountain Road. The two fire stations also are being updated.

During public meetings, Select Board members had briefly mentioned two entities being interested in leasing or purchasing space in the Municipal Center. On Wednesday, Gartenstein said the board has been meeting in executive sessions with Town Manager Peter Elwell and representatives from the state.

"I am very pleased to be able to report that the state of Vermont is interested in potentially becoming a long-term tenant in the Municipal Center and taking a very significant amount of space there," Gartenstein said. "So if that all works out, and there's work that needs to be done in order to get there, we would be able to have a long-term partnership with the state of Vermont at the Municipal Center, hopefully with shared capital improvement costs. And we would be able to work together to have a real functioning government state and municipal campus at the north end of town, running from the Municipal Center into the State Office and over into that courthouse over in the triangle."

Existing tenants would remain at the Municipal Center in the current plan, according to Gartenstein. But those groups could move to different spaces within the building. The status of the meeting room, where the Select Board and others hold meetings, is the same.

Gartenstein said the board could not promise the project would happen. He stressed that there's still a lot of work to be done.

"The plan won't really be ready to be presented back to the town in any more detailed form probably until the summer," he said, receiving applause from Town Meeting members and other attendees.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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