Transportation center may ease Brattleboro parking

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(Host) Brattleboro drivers used to circling the downtown area repeatedly in search of parking should be getting some relief soon. A new, five-tier parking center is scheduled to open soon.

VPR’s Susan Keese reports.

(Keese) The first few levels of the $9.6 million center could open for parking as early as the first week in October, officials told the group. The Transportation Center, as it’s called, was nearly 20 years in the talking stage. The project had to go through three town-wide votes before a $ 4 million bond issue was approved three years ago.

The federal government kicked in too. Senator Jim Jeffords has managed to find about $5 million in federal transportation funds for Brattleboro. Town manager Jerry Remillard says most of that is for the transportation center.

(Remillard) “And quite frankly we would have a very tough time getting the project done without his assistance. Also many other agencies have stepped up to the plate. So there’s been a great coordinated effort here, just a lot of people recognizing that we needed to take some very major investment that we could move into the future with. And that’s what we’ve done.”

(Keese) The center will house Brattleboro’s parking enforcement office, bus links, a lobby and retail space on the first floor. It will also add 300 parking spaces to Brattleboro’s business district. Local Merchant Bob Woodworth chairs the citizens committee that pushed the project forward. He says businesses have felt stymied by the lack of parking.

(Woodoworth) “I think Brattleboro’s really fortunate in that we don’t just have store fronts on the first floor and then empty buildings upstairs. So for us to fully utilize our downtown we needed to have more place for people to park.”

(Keese) Woodworth hopes the new garage will be used by people who work or live in town, so that visitors and shoppers can use on-street parking. Officials say the 24 hour parking area is designed for safety, with emergency phones, and video cameras monitored at the police station.

But Brattleboro historical society director Wayne Carhart thinks even more should be done. Because the project has been controversial, he says, the slightest incidence of vandalism may draw undue attention.

(Carhart) “I do think in the early stages particularly it is crucial that people feel their automobile is safe and that they’re safe walking to and from the automobile. I don’t think that’s a big demand to put on the people that are running the operation and I also think that’s what’s going to make it be successful.”

(Keese) Carhart said he’d like to see the gym that’s been proposed for town police, fire and other workers located on the center’s ground floor.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese in Brattleboro.

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