New Haven officials have found a new home for their historic train depot, bringing anend to months of discussion over whether the 170-year-old building would face a wrecking ball in the name of progress.
The brick depot has been in jeopardy since Amtrak deemed it to be a safety risk— it sits less than 12 feet from the track — and determined that it must be removed ahead of the long-awaited resumption of passenger rail service between Burlington and Rutland. That route is expected to restart by early next year and will send passenger trains past the station at speeds of up to 59 miles per hour.
After considering several alternative sites, the New Haven Selectboard voted last month to move the building from its current home at the junction of Route 7 and Route 17 to a three-acre plot on North Street near the library and town offices, the Addison Independent reported.
The local historical society now plans to occupy part of the building, while the town hopes to offset upkeep costs by renting out the rest to a private business.
The new location was not the preferred choice, according to selectboard chair John Roleau, who said many in town had hoped to find another spot along the tracks. But since the town already owned the property and could take advantage of existing infrastructure there, "it was kind of our only good option," he said.
The state, which owns both the depot and the land it sits on, is now working with New Haven officials to determine how to pay for the move. Estimates for the project have ranged from $430,000 to $630,000.
The state has set aside up to $400,000 in its transportation budget, and the town is hoping to receive a $350,000 grant through a state-federal partnership known as the Northern Border Regional Commission. State and local officials are also pursuing several smaller grants to ensure there's enough money left to renovate the building once it's moved.
Officials say work to prepare the new site could begin this summer, while the move itself would likely take place sometime in October.
"We didn’t ask for this problem — it was kind of thrown on us," Roleau said. "But under the circumstances, I think it worked out as best as it possibly could, and I'm glad with where we're at."