David Taube / Staff Photo Waterbury Select Board member Chris Viens, state Rep. Tom Stevens, D-Waterbury, and residents Hans Pfister, Bob Dain and Steve Van Esen discuss ideas for a proposed municipal complex at the Waterbury state office complex during a workshop Thursday night. The next workshop is March 25.
WATERBURY — Residents have been asking whether there’s enough community space in a proposed municipal complex, how much bonding would be needed and how much the facility would cost.
Last week, they began to help shape the answers.
Some 60 residents gathered Thursday evening at St. Leo’s Hall on South Main Street to give input on preliminary designs of a new municipal complex, breaking into six groups to share concerns and brainstorm ideas.
“If we listen early and often, then maybe we can avoid the pain and agony of multiple bond votes,” said Bob White, a principal with ORW Landscape Architects & Planners of White River Junction, whose firm was hired as a subcontractor by the Montpelier architecture firm hired for the preliminary work.
The complex is expected to house village and town offices, the village police station, municipal library and the Waterbury Historical Society.
Officials are looking at property at the Waterbury state office complex. Some designs reuse one or two buildings, and other proposals call for new construction.
The next design workshop is set for March 25 at 7 p.m. in St. Leo’s Hall at 109 S. Main St.
State Rep. Rebecca Ellis, D-Waterbury, who is the Select Board vice chairwoman, said the town could make an offer to the state for Stanley and Wasson halls this month.
Officials have studied and explored other sites, such as the flood-damaged municipal building at 51 S. Main St. and the current library, but Municipal Manager Bill Shepeluk said the community previously indicated that it wanted one building if that was possible. He said the state office site is the only location looked at so far that can fit all of the functions in one place.
The proposals mean the area could need to bond for $3 million to $5 million, according to officials.
During the meeting, each of the six groups wrote out ideas, then had a member of each group present them to the whole gathering. Many groups expressed support for a new construction model that from a top view looks like a boomerang.
“First and foremost was the cost from the state, which we can’t do nothing about at this point,” resident Roger Fraser said for one group. “You can’t pay $2 million for a building you’re going to tear down.”
Other groups raised concerns over building in a floodplain, and some town residents questioned why they’re helping support the village police department. One group representative, however, compared that issue to a bill in Congress that a leader may want to pass even though it also tries to address others’ concerns.
As part of the recommendations, one group suggested outdoor art installations and mixing traditional designs with contemporary elements. Another group wanted outdoor picnic tables and had a wish-list item of a rooftop patio.
Fraser’s group also suggested the complex shouldn’t have restrooms for every department, creating redundancy for a shared space.
Resident John Thumann, suggesting he was speaking for himself, said he thought the design should put the police station and library in different buildings or areas.
“The fact that police deal with criminals and the library is a sanctuary for children … the reality is I really don’t think they should be in the same area,” he said.
One group wanted less community space because there are places to meet in the elementary and middle schools, while another group felt more community space was needed.
Others showed considerable support.
“We want the library to be beautiful,” said Lyn Kasvinsky. “And we want the opportunity to make our town better with this.”
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