Future of Center Rutland divided
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | November 08,2012
Vyto Starinskas / Staff FILE Photo
Flory’s Plaza in Center Rutland is shown earlier this year.
Rutland Town Select Board Chairman Stan Rhodes sees the future of Center Rutland as being a tale of two sides of Route 4A.
One the south side, Rhode foresees a new $2 million fire station — approved Tuesday night by a 1,262-969 vote — as a big improvement over the existing station built there in the 1960s.
Right across the street on the north side of the highway, the selectman said he believes the scenery familiar to motorists for decades will remain unchanged due to the voters’ decision on Tuesday not to spend up to $250,000 to clean up the properties comprising Flory’s Plaza. A plan to level the motel, gas station, former Poultney Pools building, the diner and the old plaza on that site failed by a narrow 1,127 to 1,150 vote.
“The voters have spoken so we’re not going to do anything to clean it up,” Rhodes said. “The way I see it we’ll have one side of the road with a beautiful new fire station and on the other side we’ll have what we’ve had there.”
The long vacant property has been called an eyesore and inspired calls for the town to act if the owners — eight members of the Flory family — would not.
The plan put forward by the Select Board called for razing the buildings and leaving the land open and ready for potential development.
But the plan to get involved in the rehabilitation of private property was opposed by many, including one of the property’s owners, Tony Flory.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s private property and the taxes are paid,” Flory said.
That said, Flory said he too is eager to see something done with the property and he hinted on Wednesday that some kind of change was possible.
“Things are in the works,” he said.
A 30-day window to seek a recount on the narrow decision remains open, but Rhodes said the work of the Select Board on the issue is done for now.
Rhodes said he also planned to use the vote as a guide when putting together the town budget two months from now.
“They voted their wallets and when it comes time to put the budget together I plan on informing the department heads that I’ll be looking to level fund again,” he said. “The message I’m getting from this vote is ‘spend conservatively.’”
But while voters refused to spend $250,000 on Flory’s property, they were willing to invest in a new fire station.
The new station has a number of features the present facility — slated for demolition — lacks including an indoor maintenance area for vehicles, more equipment storage and a training room for members. It would also include a sprinkler and exhaust system, a kitchen and both men’s and women’s bathrooms.
The station is expected to add about $14.72 per $100,000 of assessed value a year to each homeowner’s tax bill for the 20-year life of the bond. Planners hope to begin work on the new station in the spring with work scheduled for completion before the end of 2013.
“I had several calls today from firefighters and members of the public who said they were happy about the vote,” said Town Fire Chief Joe Denardo. “Myself and the members of the department would like to say ‘Thank you’ to the voters.”