By Luke Baynes
Contrary to a May 29 Burlington Free Press report, Maj. William Sheets, executive officer for the Vermont State Police, said the state is not considering moving its Williston barracks strictly because of traffic congestion on Vermont 2A.
“We’re not moving a public safety facility just due to traffic,” Sheets told the Observer during a June 1 phone interview.
Instead, Sheets said the state legislature appropriated $50,000 for a feasibility study for potential improvements to all 12 of the state’s barracks facilities. An advertisement asking landowners along the Interstate 89 corridor in Richmond and Milton about the availability of parcels for a new barracks was part of that study.
Sheets said the state’s top priority is consolidating its Brattleboro and Rockingham barracks into a single facility in Westminster—a project originally approved for fiscal year 2012 but cancelled after Tropical Storm Irene. The feasibility study, which has a Jan. 15, 2013 deadline, will look at the state’s other barracks.
“What we’re trying to do is look at those remaining facilities and come up with a prioritized plan,” Sheets said.
Sheets added that there are no imminent plans to move the Williston facility.
“We could be talking about a (relocated) Williston building as early as five years or as late as 20,” he said.
While landowners in both Richmond and Milton listed properties in response to the advertisement, Sheets said the state police would prefer a Richmond location because of its closer proximity to the current barracks. A key consideration for any potential location, he said, is the ability of the state police’s microwave-based radio system to function without interference.
In addition to Williston, Brattleboro and Rockingham, the Vermont State Police has barracks in St. Albans, Middlesex, Derby, Bradford, St. Johnsbury, New Haven, Rutland, Shaftsbury and Royalton.
Sheets said a community forum will be held at the Williston barracks to solicit feedback prior to the completion of the feasibility study. He said the forum could occur as early as mid-September or as late as the end of November.