ENOSBURGH — The Old Enosburg Armory will see life breathed into it once again, this time when Enosburgh’s town offices move into the building in the spring.
Enosburgh Town Clerk Billie-Joe Draper confirmed the move — which will take place as early as June — in a call with the Messenger Tuesday afternoon.
The armory was built in the late ‘50s and was previously owned by the state of Vermont. It was used as a tank unit, but after deployment to Iraq in 2006, the state began using it as a base for 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment, as well as the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The town estimates that the 13,000-square-foot building will need approximately $22,000 in modifications. It’s been sitting empty — with the exception of a JROTC squad — since it closed near the end of 2020, and needs a few repairs.
“We need to do the rails, the floors and the new trolley cars that are associated with it. That is probably the most expensive item we would have,” says Draper.
When the National Guard moved out, Draper jumped at the chance to make it the town offices’ new home. The current office houses as many as six people at a time
“I made a few inquiries with people. With Felisha Leffler, the representative. They had some higher-ups call here to say do you think this is something the town would be interested in,” said Draper.
Rep. Felisha Leffler, R-Enosburg, says that the decision was made based on the fact that there were not enough people based out of the armory to draw down federal funding. They couldn’t maintain it, so she got to work.
“The transfer of the armory from state property to town property was something that I worked quite hard to do. It came down the pipeline right at the same time as COVID,” Leffler says. “Everything kinda went sideways in March when we had to figure out how to do legislation remotely.”
She notes that the gifting of the armory was complicated by the fact that there hasn’t been a state building gifted to a town in about 10 years.
“That’s a lot of running around the building and having lunches and trying to say, ‘Hey, can we talk about this issue ... it’s really important’ and they say, ‘Yea, sure.’ And I say, ‘But we’re also going to talk about an issue that’s really important to me,’” says Leffler.
A non-contested vote was held in the senate and signed by the governor. The move of town offices was confirmed at the end of December.
Draper says that typically when a building owned by the state closes, ownership will pass on to local entities. In the case of the armory, it was a gift from the National Guard and won’t be on the town ballot.
“We were gifted a very expensive building. This is a huge savings. We were going to start thinking about the day when we had to maybe find a place to put a building. That would be hard in itself but then the cost associated with it,” says Draper.
Regarding the current town office — which was built in the mid-1800s — Leffler says that there are a number of maintenance and repair needs.
“That building’s in an interesting position. Legally it was deeded to the town for use but it can’t be sold. Given the building’s maintenance and repair needs, as well as some of the other prevailing repair needs, I actually think it would be best used being converted to a parking lot for our library, which is tucked behind it,” Leffler said.
Still, she doesn’t write off the possibility that the library itself might be open to using the building.
“I know the library building is significantly newer than the town office building,” she said.
The Enosburgh Selectboard has been so overwhelmed with the budget and meetings that Draper says they haven’t had a chance to hash out the details of the move yet.
“We tried to keep it low-priced. It’s a nice building of brick and concrete, so it’s a very sturdy building but it does need some floor work and some bulk work. We’re very excited,” says Draper.