The Waterbury state office complex is
a ghost town. Some 1,500 people used to work there-- it was the heartbeat of
state government. But almost two years ago, Tropical Storm Irene flooded the
complex. The Shumlin administration promised to rebuild, but got in a funding
battle with the federal government, leaving Waterbury waiting.
Hiata DeFeo owns Bridgeside Books in
"I know it has hit some
businesses very hard. The noontime traffic is not what it used to be,"
At the Statehouse, when asked by
reporters about progress at Waterbury, Gov. Peter Shumlin let big news slip.
"I just gave the story
away," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
The governor says the state just got
verbal approval from Federal Emergency
Management Agency to start demolition on some buildings at
the state office complex. The approval was needed to meet the timeline to
reopen the complex in 2015 and bring back about 1,000 employees.
Gov. Peter Shumlin: We want to get to
Reporter Kristin Carlson: So, you want
to-- when do you think that will happen?
Gov. Shumlin: We think we will be in
working in the next day-- I wish Jeb (Spaulding) were here-- or two, week or
two, very soon. We have been waiting for this authorization so we are ready to
Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding
was not there when the governor let the news out early and quickly arrived to
the press conference.
Gov. Shumlin: I was looking for you.
Jeb Spaulding: What did you tell them?
Gov. Shumlin: I told them you had it
all figured out.
Jeb Spaulding: This next piece will
allow us to start the wrecking ball in the next few months.
Gov. Shumlin: I said we'd start in a
couple of hours. You say a couple of months?
Jeb Spaulding: Uh... we are moving as
fast as we can. The letter could be here in a couple of hours-- or this week
Spaulding says the official FEMA
approval letter will arrive this week.
Kristin Carlson: Were you surprised to
hear the governor say that today?
Rep. Tom Stevens: Pleasantly
"I think when the buildings come
down people will get excited and realize that in a couple of years we will have
a whole new complex there," said Stevens, D-Waterbury.
"That's great news," DeFeo
said. "Great for Waterbury, great to hear."
DeFeo says progress at Waterbury will
help businesses hang on, knowing an end is in sight.
"I think it will make people feel
better to see that visually something is happening," DeFeo said.
One question that remains
is how much money the state will be reimbursed from FEMA for the $124 million project. There's been a lot of back
and forth and miscommunication. The governor says an answer is now expected in
the next few weeks and he is expecting good news-- that the state will get $40
million dollars, which is the
amount lawmakers have budgeted for.