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Plans to move Rutland Free Library fall through

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 4:43 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Renovations at the former College of St. Joseph campus in Rutland were scheduled to include a new home for the Rutland Free Library. But plans to move into the library space on campus are off.

Officials at the Rutland Free Library were notified they are no longer part of the deal which would have moved them to the former College of St. Joseph campus.

“We were full speed ahead trying to make this plan work,” said Randal Smathers, the director of the Rutland Free Library.

Smathers says they were going to purchase the space from Heartland American, the developers on the project. But neither party had a signed deal, so it was always possible for Heartland or the library to back out.

“We’ve been told that Heartland can’t have us because of Act 250 concerns,” Smathers said. “I don’t know what those Act 250 concerns are.”

Stuart Mills is a managing partner of Heartland American, located in Florida. He read a release from the library concerning Act 250 and told me on the phone the decision has nothing to do with the act.

“I read that release and found it to be highly inaccurate,” Mills said.

Mills says having the library on the former campus would not create enough revenue.

“It’s just there isn’t enough economic viability to make the numbers work,” Mills said.

Smathers says they spent three months reaching out to the community and had almost unanimous support from the Board of Aldermen, the mayor and city treasurer.

“It really felt like it was a go, like it was possible,” Smathers said.

The library’s board is reassessing issues like mobility within its current building, creating sound barriers around the children’s area, replacing historically approved windows and other maintenance issues.

An original renovation plan for the current building had a $7 million-plus price tag.

Now, the library will have to go to the city voters for a bond, pushing their plans out about a year.

“We pared it down to $1.5 million,” Smathers said. “At this point, we are really going to have to do a reconsideration about whether those plans are sufficient.”

The Rutland Free Library is still looking for community input regarding any possible renovations.

Related Story:

Rutland Free Library explores move to College of St. Joseph

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