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Monkton office project to begin Aug. 1

MONKTON — The Monkton Town Office and Library building project is taking shape, despite the pandemic, and construction could begin ahead of schedule this summer.
“Our target is Aug. 1, but we might be able to move that forward,” said Monkton selectboard chair Stephen Pilcher. “It would be nice to reach a point in the construction where the building can at least be enclosed for the winter.”
Monkton voters approved a $1.7 million bond for the project on Town Meeting Day. 
The two-story building will be located next to the Friends Methodist Church, which is located at 77 Monkton Ridge, and will include municipal offices, records storage, three public meeting rooms and a greatly enlarged library.
Since the bond was approved, Bellwether Architects has made a few design improvements, Pilcher said, and the top-level design process is almost a month ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile, the construction manager, Naylor & Breen, has begun lining up building and engineering contractors.
“Currently the project is in the Construction Documents phase where the architects and engineers are finalizing the drawings and specifications so the Construction Manager can use these documents to obtain competitive subcontractor bids,” wrote Monkton officials on the town website.
Construction in Vermont, like other sectors of the state economy, has ground to a halt over the past couple of months, because of the pandemic, but Gov. Phil Scott recently issued work and health guidelines that would allow some projects to resume.
Monkton officials are crossing their fingers.
“While COVID-19 continues to be a concern, especially when it comes to construction season, early portions of the construction will take place outside with small crews,” Monkton officials said.
The project was estimated in February to cost Monkton property taxpayers about $46 annually for every $100,000 of property value.
But a lot has changed since February and a few Monkton residents have objected to proceeding with the project. Some have called for an “emergency re-vote” of the bond measure.
Carolyn Fogg brought the issue to the May 11 selectboard meeting, which was held online, noting that the “economy is tough right now,” according to the meeting minutes. The discussion, which was stymied by technical difficulties, will continue at the board’s May 25 meeting.
However, the selectboard does not anticipate entertaining any requests for a “re-vote” or a reconsideration of the bond, Pilcher told the Independent.
“I’m not inclined to overturn an election to satisfy a relatively small group of vocal citizens who object to the project,” he said. “There is a 30-day period after any election to petition the selectboard for reconsideration of the vote. After that period the vote stands.”
Monkton property taxes would actually increase in 2020 if the bond were canceled. The town expects to pay about $12,000 in interest on the project this year, but that will be more than offset by rolling $40,000 in prior project expenses into the bond, which will reduce General Fund spending.
Still, the town is sympathetic to the issue of property taxes, Pilcher said, and the selectboard is working on ways to lessen the burden for struggling residents.
Discussion on that topic will also take place at the board’s Monday meeting.
For more information about the Monkton Town Offices and Library project, visit monktonvt.com.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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