Rutland begins review of rail yard plans

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(Host) For years the City of Rutland has had plans to move its busy rail yard out of the downtown area. Now, those hundred million dollar plans are firm enough to place before the political decision-makers beginning Monday night, as VPR’s Nina Keck reports.

(Keck) Rutland’s main railroad switching yard is smack in the middle of the downtown business district. A committee made up of local officials has been working for years to develop a plan to move the congested rail yard to a largely unused tract of commercial land south of the city.

That committee will present its plan tonight to Rutland City Aldermen and tomorrow night to officials in Rutland Town. Matthew Sternberg, head of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, has been spearheading the project. He says if the city and town both approve the plan, a joint public hearing will be held in December.

(Sternberg) “Following that public hearing, when we have all the comments from the general public and the planning commissions, we’ll formulate a final version of the plan which will be put on the town meeting day ballot in both municipalities in March.”

(Keck) While moving the rail yards and redeveloping the land will be costly, Sternberg says if approved, the project would likely be done in phases and would provide welcome new development opportunities for the city. While he says most local officials are very supportive of the idea, he says public support is also important.

(Sternberg) “That’s why we’re holding the hearing. These plans do need voter approval for implementation. We may very well in the public hearings hear something that would make us want to revise the plan before it goes on the referendum.”

(Keck) Sternberg says his office is putting together a series of public fact sheets to explain the project and its impact. He says copies of the actual proposal will be readily available.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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