State and local officials broke ground on a new municipal building in St. Albans Town Thursday afternoon, the latest of several recent projects along St. Albans Bay that officials say will make the town’s waterfront village more attractive to the public.
“Let’s get this thing built,” Selectboard Chair Brendan Deso said at the construction site, “and let’s keep this town marching forward.”
Town voters approved $4.5 million for the new town hall in March, about $2 million of which will come from cash on-hand; $2.5 million will come from a 15-year loan.
The 13,000-square-foot building will be on Georgia Shore Road about half a mile from the current town hall.
Town Manager Carrie Johnson said in an interview the new town hall will have a host of improvements over the existing one, which was built in the 1890s.
It will be built on just one level to improve accessibility and will have a much larger vault to store municipal documents. The new building will also have modern heating and cooling systems, which the existing building does not.
The new town hall is going up next to the former site of the town public works department, which was moved off the lakefront last year to a site on Brigham Road, Johnson said, making space for new, more attractive development.
The town has also made improvements at nearby St. Albans Bay Town Park in the past several years and plans to build more sidewalks around the new town hall.
“We’re excited to continue forward,” Johnson said, “and develop this into a nice recreational area — possibly year-round.”
In addition, Deso said St. Albans Town is committed to improving the water quality in St. Albans Bay. He noted the town instituted a stormwater utility fee this summer, which should help fund a slate of proposed stormwater management projects. The goal is to keep pollutants out of Lake Chaplain by limiting stormwater runoff in the Rugg and Stevens Brook watersheds, which state regulators classify as impaired because they fail to meet Vermont’s water quality standards.
“The quality of our water isn’t where we’d like it to be,” Deso said, gesturing toward Lake Champlain, which was visible just behind a row of houses and trees.
St. Albans Town officials also said Thursday they were encouraged by 2020 U.S. Census data released earlier this month, which showed the town’s population grew 16.5% in the past decade.
That means the town’s population has increased more than 30% since 2000, Deso said, which is notable, since many population centers in Vermont are losing people.
“I think as more people come here, we’ll have to expand some municipal services,” Johnson said. “We expect there to be some economic development, too, that comes with it that we’re excited to invite here.”
Other officials at the groundbreaking included Rebecca Ellis, the state director for U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and state Sen. Corey Parent, R-Franklin, who also is the town’s director of operations.
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