Vershire to vote on long-awaited town garage

  • Vershire Road Foreman Alan Lyford takes a call in his office at the Vershire Town Garage on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in Vershire, Vt. This summer residents will be voting on a bond to build a new garage. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • Town trucks are parked with little room to move around them at the Vershire Town Garage on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in Vershire, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Vershire Road Foreman Alan Lyford closes up the Town Garage for the day on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Vershire, Vt. Vise-grips are used on the doors so they can not be pried open. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • After a 10-hour day working on the Vershire road crew, Doug Stone heads home on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Vershire, Vt. The garage, built close to the road, will be the subject of a vote next month when residents decide whether to approve a $1.53 million bond for the construction of a new town garage on another property the town has purchased. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/19/2022 9:55:22 PM
Modified: 5/19/2022 9:53:36 PM

VERSHIRE — After two decades of searching for a way to replace the town garage, Vershire may be poised to do just that should voters approve a $1.53 million bond in a ballot vote next month.

The Selectboard unanimously approved sending the question to voters on June 12 at a meeting last week.

“We’ve been, since 2007, looking for an opportunity to move,” Selectboard Chairman Vern Stone said. “Since 2007, prices have gone crazy, and then COVID. It’s probably not the ideal time to do what we’re doing, but it’s got to be done. We can’t put it off any longer.”

If voters approve the project, the town would move forward with plans to build a new four-bay garage at 815 Vershire Center Road. The new structure, slated to be built on land the town bought in 2019, would replace the town’s current garage at 608 Vershire Center Road that was built in 1969.

The faults of the current building are myriad. It was built for smaller trucks than the town currently uses. In order to get some of the town’s larger trucks into the garage, workers have had to take their lights off.

Then, “when you get everything packed in the garage, it’s a maze to get through it,” said Stone, who is also Vershire’s road commissioner.

In addition, flooding from Hurricane Irene in 2011 caused part of the garage floor to sink. When snow melts, water has a tendency to run through the floors, sometimes resulting in ice. The foreman’s desk is located in the work area next to the trucks. For environmental reasons, the town also needs to move its salt and sand piles away from the headwater tributary of the Ompompanoosuc River where they currently sit.

The “state’s inspected stuff,” Stone said. “They really would like that salt shed away from the river. It’s understandable.”

The proposed design of the new garage has been drawn up by West Glover, Vt.-based Coe & Coe Architecture and is based on the design of Glover’s town garage. The town also has worked with the Colchester, Vt.-based civil engineering firm of Krebs & Lansing to develop a site plan for the garage property.

Town officials have sought and continue to seek grant funding for the project, but so far they’ve been unsuccessful.

Town Clerk Gene Craft said one source of frustration is that federal money available to towns through the American Rescue Plan Act is focused more on broadband, wastewater and water supply projects, not on roads.

In a small town like Vershire, the “infrastructure is our roads,” Craft said.

The town, which includes some 700 people, has navigated many obstacles to get to this point.

“It’s been a really difficult road,” Craft said.

About 15 years ago, Vershire voters defeated a measure that would have allocated $220,000 to purchase a commercial construction garage to replace the town garage, Stone said. The following year, the town’s fire department, which is not a town entity, purchased that garage for its own use.

“Too bad it wasn’t our town garage,” Stone said. “Everything was there already.”

After that site failed to get voters’ approval, town officials set their sights on a location on Durgin Hill Road, but the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources told them that site included wetlands. There was no way to build a driveway and include the required buffers for the wetland, Stone said.

The town purchased the property for the new garage from Susan Sargent in July 2019. It has since gotten wastewater and stormwater permits from the Agency of Natural Resources.

Stone said he understands the project comes with a hefty price tag, though he wasn’t sure what impact it would have on taxpayers.

“It’s a lot of money, but it is what is,” he said.

The town is scheduled to hold an informational meeting on the bond vote at 6:30 p.m. June 7 online and in person at the Town Center. The bond vote is scheduled to take place June 12 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Town Center, 27 Vershire Center Road.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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