State Examines Rebuilding Options in Waterbury

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The Shumlin Administration was hoping to demolish more than 20 buildings in the State Office Complex in Waterbury that suffered extensive damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

But now the Administration is considering the option of renovating many of these buildings and flood proofing them as much as possible.

If the state of Vermont doesn’t receive what it feels is an appropriate level of compensation from the federal government to deal with damage to the State Office Complex in Waterbury, the Shumlin Administration has several options.

It could go ahead with its comprehensive plan to renovate the Office Complex. It’s a plan that includes the construction of a new energy efficient office building and a new heating plant and the state could issue bonds to pay for the work.

A second option would be to drastically scale back the scope of the entire project.  Michael Clasen is the Deputy Secretary of Administration:

"If the FEMA funding is not forthcoming to the degree that we thought or led to believe that it would, then we’re going to have to look at alternatives on the Waterbury campus."

The Administration and the Legislature support moving the heating plant at the Complex to a site on the campus that’s much less prone to flooding. But Clasen says FEMA officials might not pay for this move.

"We may need to look at FEMA would likely provide funding to flood proof that building but keep the building where it is and have it provide its current functioning under a scenario where we bring the folks back to Waterbury."

Under the comprehensive plan, roughly 20 older buildings in the flood plain of the Complex would be demolished.   

Clasen says the lower cost alternative might include a plan to renovate some of these structures and not use the bottom two floors to mitigate future flood damage.

"It could be only demolishing some of them, looking at the functional use of some of those under another plan it’s really going to come down to what the funding levels are and what we can afford to do and what the Legislature would agree with us on."

Clasen says the state’s approach should be clearer in about ten days. That’s when FEMA officials are expected to make a decision about how much money it plans to give the state to rehabilitate the Waterbury Office Complex.

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