Debate continues over Post Office facade
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | December 06,2012
State and federal officials continue to wrangle over the Post Office Annex, but an agreement on the West Street building could be in sight.
U.S. Postal Service spokesman Tom Rizzo said Wednesday that a decision on how to proceed with repairs on the building is expected in the coming month and that the Postal Service hopes work can begin in the spring.
“There are a lot of issues having to do with the material and the historic nature of the facade,” Rizzo said. “These issues are going to have to be discussed in earnest.”
Disagreement over facade repairs have held up the project for years, causing the prolonged presence of scaffolding that city officials considered an eyesore and annoyance.
That scaffolding recently came down, but the sidewalk along the building has been closed. Rizzo said new winter scaffolding will soon go up around the building and that it will be “a vast improvement” over the old scaffolding appearance-wise.
“I understand the scaffolding that was up was up for quite a while, so it was rusted and so forth,” he said.
The building, constructed in 1927 and originally a car dealership, is believed to be the only art deco terracotta building in Vermont and is on both the state and federal historic registries. Work on the building’s facade fell afoul of state officials because it did not follow historic preservation requirements.
“Over the Thanksgiving weekend, a specialist in terracotta working out of Boston put together a report that will be reviewed by all the involved parties,” Rizzo said.
Those parties include the Postal Service, the Rutland mayor’s office, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.
The report indicated that 20 percent of the terracotta tiles need to be replaced and 20 percent need to be repaired, Rizzo said, and the ongoing discussion centers on how those replacements and repairs will be achieved. He said historic preservation officials favored materials they felt would maintain the character of the building.
“The Postal Service would like to do that, but sometimes those materials might not be available or might not be financially feasible,” Rizzo said. “That’s just speculation on my part. ... I’m not party to those discussions. When those discussions take place, they always go more slowly than anyone would like, because they are thorny.”