Montpelier now has enough money to move forward with its planned transit center at One Taylor Street, to be located on the former Carr parking lot. But there are still a handful of rights-of-way issues to be cleared up before construction can begin.
The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has awarded the project $850,000, which City Manager William Fraser says will close enough of the budget gap to proceed with construction once the remaining rights-of-way are secured.
A construction cost estimate completed last summer revealed a $1.4 million shortfall in funding for the project, which includes building a transit center and privately-owned rental housing as well as a new bike and pedestrian path from Taylor Street to Main Street, across a new pedestrian bridge over the North Branch of the Winooski River.
"Obviously, the receipt of this grant is big news," Fraser wrote in his weekly report on Friday. He noted last fall the city received a $250,000 grant for stormwater improvements to the site and $128,000 in sales tax reallocation funds.
He added, "Therefore, we now have secured an additional $1,228,000 for the project. While not quite the $1.4 million we think we need, we believe we can make this work through small changes during the design process. Or there may be additional sources of funds we come across in the next year that could fully close this gap. In the meantime, we believe we have enough funding committed to move forward."
Mayor John Hollar commented in a press release issued on Thursday, “This is an exciting day for a project that will provide better transportation options in our community and offer much-needed new housing, as well as improve a key entry to our downtown. With the funds in place to redevelop this parcel, the only obstacle left is securing the final rights of way for the proposed shared use path. We began talks with the two remaining property owners in December and are hopeful that we will reach agreements with them soon.”
In his weekly report of Friday, Fraser mentioned four parcels where the rights-of-way are still in play. He said he anticipates "reaching an amicable sale/swap agreement" regarding the M&M Beverage property, which the city attempted to secure through eminent domain. Fraser also said the city has "reached agreement on the Heney easement" which is expected to be approved by city council on March 23.
"We are also in active negotiation with the Basharas and Jacobs on the remaining two easements," Fraser wrote. "For our grantors to authorize us to move forward with design and permitting, we must 'clear' right-of-way or have agreements in place for all of these parcels."
While some site work is expected to happen this construction season, Fraser said major construction won't start until 2017.