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New ACTR building in sight

MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Transit Resources officials this spring will roll out a public campaign to raise up to $700,000 to round out the financing of a new $4.2 million transportation headquarters in Middlebury that could be built by early 2013.
A new ACTR facility has been in the works for several years, as the county public transportation agency has sought to move out of its cramped quarters in the Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects Community Services building off Boardman Street. ACTR rents 1,000 square feet of space in the building for offices that must be shared by 27 full- and part-time workers.
At the same time, ACTR does not have adequate on-site space for its fleet of 16 buses. The organization dispensed almost 156,000 rides to area residents during fiscal year 2011, according to ACTR’s most recent annual report.
The nonprofit’s regular routes include a Middlebury in-town shuttle; a Tri-Town Shuttle that links Bristol, Vergennes and Middlebury; and a Snow Bowl Shuttle that goes through Ripton. ACTR is planning a new Route 116 service linking Bristol to Burlington, and collaborates with other agencies on buses from Middlebury to Rutland and Burlington.
A steady increase in demand for service and new routes have driven the need for a new headquarters in which the organization could maintain its vehicles under cover and better house its workers, according to ACTR Executive Director Jim Moulton.
The ACTR board, with the help of architects, drew up plans for a 14,000-square-foot facility that is to be located on the northern, undeveloped portion of land that is part of the Vermont Agency of Transportation property at 341 Creek Road.
Half of the building will be devoted to in-house vehicle care and maintenance, services that currently have to be farmed out to private providers, Moulton noted.
“The garage part is a critical component of controlling our costs in the long term,” Moulton said.
He added the new facility would also provide storage space for ACTR to buy vehicle parts in bulk — another way to reduce costs. ACTR currently does not have storage space to allow for bulk purchases.
“Right now, we can’t add anything else to our plate because we have nowhere else to function,” Moulton said.
The price tag for the new building — including equipment and furnishings — has been placed at $4.2 million. The organization has already secured 82 percent of that sum, in large part through a $2.85 million earmark secured by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., through the Omnibus Appropriation Bill of 2009.
Moulton last week sent a letter to potential ACTR supporters disclosing a remaining fundraising goal of $711,000. That number, as of Tuesday, had dipped below $700,000, according to Moulton, who has also been approaching foundations, state agencies and other potential revenue sources.
This April or May, ACTR will make a more public appeal for donations in an effort to reach the goal and pursue a project timetable calling for soliciting bids from contractors before the summer. Moulton hopes construction can start this summer, with completion of the building next winter.
“We are still reviewing drawings,” Moulton said. “We are really excited about the project.”

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