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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Montpelier Sets Sights On Transit And Welcome Center

The City of Montpelier has big plans for the lot at 1 Taylor Street, where the old Vermont Transit bus station used to be. Plans call for a multi-modal transportation center, a welcome center, a bike and pedestrian path, and public access to the Winooski River. The city has secured partial funding for the project through the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. One thing the city did not have, up until this point, was the land.

The primary parcel in question, known as the Carr Lot, belongs to Allan Carr. Carr currently leases the land to the state for parking. And after years of discussion, Carr and the city have agreed to the terms of a sale. Montpelier announced the specifics in a press release:

  • Purchase and Sale agreement signed immediately. City will have right to access the property for preliminary site development work consistent with the existing lease.
  • Final closing will occur on January 2, 2014.
  • Total sale price is $1,400,000. $5,000 deposit will be paid now. $995,000 will be paid at closing. $400,000 will be paid over the next 15 years with no penalty for early payment. Interest will be at 4.5 percent initially with market adjustments after 5 and 10 years.
  • Environmental liability and responsibility issues have been addressed.
  • The city will continue leasing the property to the state through, at least, the next legislative session.

The property was appraised in 2013 for $920,000. The press release stated:

The City Council agreed to pay a higher amount to allow the project to move forward in a timely manner, to avoid the uncertainty and delay of eminent domain litigation, and in recognition of the significant rental income that Mr. Carr receives from the State of Vermont.
This agreement will enable the City to move forward with the acquisition of three other parcels which are also involved in the project.

In 2001, with intentions to purchase the property, the city of Montpelier secured a Brownfields Assessment Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to a 2004 VPIRG report on brownfields in Vermont, assessments in 2001 and 2003 revealed the following contaminants:

  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • surface and subsoil containing: polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and metals (including arsenic, chromium, and lead) above EPA Preliminary Remediation Goals
  • surface soil with elevated petroleum hydrocarbons (in the vicinity of a former above ground storage tank)
  • groundwater samples with: VOCs, perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and metals in excess of VT Groundwater Enforcement Standards.

As a result, the site was placed on the state’s hazardous sites list and the city enrolled the lot in the state’s Redevelopment of Contaminated Properties Program (RCPP) and took responsibility for cleaning up the site.
According to the VPIRG report, the lot has a long history of serving as a transportation hub:

In the 1800s, the site was used as a marble yard, train depot, train maintenance facility, and agricultural warehouse. In the 1900s, it was used as a stonemason’s shop and transportation depot, and as a scrap metal salvage and processing yard from 1945 until the early 1980s. The City began to consider redevelopment potential in 1998, and in 2001 the City Council formed an official Carr Lot Redevelopment Committee.

Montplier's press release stated  the purchase and sale agreement will now enable the city to move forward with the acquisition of three other parcels which are also involved in the project.