State and federal officials have reached a deal on the post office annex in Rutland, but the city would like to see the project move a little faster.
The West Street building has the distinction of being one of the few Art Deco terra-cotta structures in the state. As such, the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation took interest in repairs the U.S. Postal Service was making there in 2008.
The project came screeching to a halt, leaving scaffolding in place around the building and creating what local officials consider a massive eyesore at the gateway to downtown.
At issue was whether repairs to the facade would preserve the historic terra-cotta exterior.
Correspondence over the last week or so between the state and postal service show the agencies have agreed that the postal service will fabricate new terra-cotta bricks to match the existing ones on the facade.
The project also calls for the replacement of broken glass panels and refurbishment of steel frame windows, which will involve removal of lead paint and asbestos. The estimated completion date is late next year.
Noelle MacKay, commissioner of the Vermont Agency of Commerce, said last week that Historic Preservation found that acceptable and that she hoped to find ways to promote local appreciation of the building’s historic significance as the project goes forward.
However, in letters to the relevant parties signed by Rutland Redevelopment Authority executive director Brennan Duffy and forwarded by Mayor Christopher Louras to the Board of Aldermen, the city indicated it would not be satisfied until the work was done.
“It has been the City’s position that we are more interested in the repairs actually being completed in timely manner than the material utilized,” Duffy wrote. “That said, we have tried to wait patiently while this matter was resolved between the Postal Service and VT SHPO.”
Duffy went on to call 14-16 months “excessive” and to note that the timeline was qualified as “barring unforeseen complications.”
“This phrase, considering the history of this project, does not instill any comfort,” he wrote.
Duffy concluded by requesting a detailed explanation of why the work could not be finished this year and written assurances that the project would get the “full attention” of the Postal Service.
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