crowded bathrooms.JPG

The upstairs staff bathroom also serves as storage for air conditioners, extra dishware and cleaning supplies. (Kate Barcellos)

RICHFORD — The Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union will continue to share space with the Richford Post Office for the rest of this school year.

District personnel will be pleased to be out whenever they are able to.

The hope is that the Perley Block building at 366 Main St. in Enosburg Falls will have renovations finished by the beginning of the next fiscal year, FNESU business manager Morgan Daybell told the Messenger.

The current space has no room for visitors or breaks, no private rooms and limited parking.

The new building, meanwhile, has 19 rooms including nine bedrooms and seven bathrooms, and the lower level of the building could serve as a childcare center, with office space on the third floor and apartments on the second, Tim Smith, director of the Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation told the Messenger previously.

The new building will provide approximately 600 square feet of additional space, and ideally, it won’t have leaky ceilings and closet-sized offices.

District personnel probably won’t even have to store their air conditioners in the bathrooms for the winter.

Limited space

Courtney Fletcher, administrative to superintendent Lynn Cota shares her office with three other employees each in adjacent cubicles with little or no space for visitors, including families, students and teachers.

“It’s tough to have a meeting and have privacy,” said Early Education Director Melissa Wood.

The same is true for the business department office downstairs, where Daybell and others work at desks separated by cubicle walls in one continuous flow of rooms with little room between each desk.

With the district offices already busting at the seams, there is no room for itinerant workers who work at the building when they aren’t in schools. There’s also no proper break room for staff: the coffee and tea station for the offices upstairs is a table set in the hallway, the only spot available.

Space is limited outside, too, as Fletcher showed in walking through the parking situation.

FNESU has access to three parking lots: one main lot and two overflow lots located up the hill. When the parking lot fills up with employees from both the FNESU and the post office, any others have to park up the hill.

State of disrepair

In addition to needing more space, the FNESU also needs stable roofing and ADA-compliant stairways, entrances and bathrooms.

There is a black iron spiral staircase on one end of the wing that leads into the fallout shelter in the basement, and it is the opposite of wheelchair accessible.

Fletcher said there have been times when water would stream through the leaky roof in her office, which she shares with four other employees.

Sometimes the flow was so heavy that water soaked through the floor and into the offices below, Fletcher said.

“It gets pretty bad,” Fletcher said.

The fallout shelter in the basement of the building is a series of brick wall rooms storing Christmas decorations and boxes of files, but each box has to be stored on top of wood pallets so the papers aren’t damaged when the basement floods, Fletcher said.

A grant for renovating

The district has had its eye on a building in the Perley Block for months, Daybell said.

On Aug. 31, the Village Trustees of Enosburg Falls signed the letter and resolution for a $500,000 grant from the Vermont Community Development Program, and Smith said the grant would go toward the renovation of the building.

The projected cost of totally renovating and rebuilding the Perley Block is about $1.2 million, and FCIDC would foot the bill, Smith said.

Building owner Charles Mraz previously told the Messenger that he bought it in 2004 as an investment property but cannot complete the renovations needed.

“I’ve actually wanted to get out of it,” Mraz told the Messenger in March. “Problem is, I live in Middlebury, and I’m too far away to manage it properly, and I have another business, and it’s been kind of a thorn in my side a little bit.

“The nice thing about [this project] is I can get out in a way where I know there’s a great future for the building and for the town.”

Smith expects to hear whether the VCD grant is approved by November, he said.

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