ST. ALBANS TOWN – A simple redesign of its abutting salt shed has brought the St. Albans Town garage project back within its voter-approved budget.

Displayed to the public for the first time during the town selectboard’s regular meeting last Monday night, the salt shed’s redesign sees the shed look less like the four-trussed barn originally shown to voters and more like a house.

Along those same lines, the concrete pads beneath the outdoor storage sections on the shed’s wings would be replaced by cheaper asphalt.

That redesign, according to overall project manager Matt Young, brings the project’s costs – as well as its contingency budgets – in line with those originally approved by voters on Town Meeting Day.

“What’s nice about this design is we didn’t compromise any of the height requirements,” Young said. “We didn’t compromise any of the covered area here, but really drastically reduced the costs of trying to frame up this wall here.”

As previously reported in the Messenger, an estimate for the town’s salt shed shared by Young with the selectboard had run almost $300,000 beyond what the town originally pitched to voters on Town Meeting Day.

Those swelled costs would have eaten through all of the contingency funding set aside for the whole garage project, not just those for the salt shed.

At the time, Young had warned the selectboard that those costs weren’t final and that it was entirely possible the project would come in below those estimates.

With this redesign, however, the town garage’s estimated overall cost once again falls below the project’s voter-approved budget. Without even touching the contingency budget, construction costs were still estimated to sit well within the town’s garage budget.

Young also told the selectboard that, while other estimates are done in order to comply with the Vermont Agency of Transportation grant funding much of the salt shed’s costs, he expects building costs to trend downward rather than rise above those estimates.

The redesign of the town’s salt shed, pictured here, reduces costs for the shed while maintaining the same amount of storage space. (Courtesy of St. Albans Town)

The shed’s new design, according to selectboard chair Brendan Deso, was almost a last-minute pitch courtesy of the town’s public works director Alan Mashtare.

“We were literally sitting in a project meeting… and most folks had left,” Deso said. “Alan drew out a very rough sketch and showed it to Matt, and because of that, we went from being tens of thousands of dollars beyond our contingencies to being $100,000 to $110,000 within our total budget.”

“We didn’t compromise any square footage,” Mashtare said. “I think the taxpayers will be happy, because whatever they voted on is what they’re going to get.”

Young told the selectboard he anticipates regularly meeting in person with the board as the town garage project moves forward.

Currently the town expects ground to be broken on the town’s garage sometime in early May.

In the meantime, the town will be updating residents on the project through a tab on their website at https://stalbanstown.com/department-of-public-works-dpw-garage-project/.

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