Brattleboro has a lively downtownfilled with bookstores, antique stores, fine restaurants and cafes,upscale clothing shops, exotic import stores, hair salons and homefurnishings stores. It has a hotel and an art movie theater. But up tonow, it has suffered from its reputation as a town with no parking.All that is about to change. The new $9.6 million BrattleboroTransportation Center is getting ready to open in the heart of downtown,providing over 300 new parking spaces at affordable prices andfacilitating travel for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.”By mid-October there will be convenient, safe, affordable,weatherproof parking 24 hours a day,” said Tom Appel, projectmanager, at a community briefing of downtown landlords, employees andresidents at the River Garden. “It is expected that the first two levelswill be open for parking on Friday, October 3, in time to accommodatevisitors to the second annual Literary Festival and the Gallery Walk,among the other fall events coming up.”Brattleboro is dedicated to maintaining a safe, effective andeconomically sustainable multi-modal transportation center, said JerryRemillard, Town Manager.”For a successful downtown, you need people living, working andshopping in downtown, Remillard said. “This project facilitates that likeno other. The BTC links Brattleboro to the regional transportationnetwork providing travel options for walkers, bikers and drivers. Therewill be hourly parking, long-term parking, parking permits and travelpermits. The town bus will stop there, bike racks will be provided, andhandicapped vans will be accommodated.”The Center will have a positive impact on downtown businesses, culturaland sporting events, Gallery Walk and the various downtown parades andfestivals that take place throughout the year. Visitors and shoppers willbe sure of having a place to park. Amtrak rider ship is expected toincrease now that travelers will have a place to park their cars long termand undercover.There will also be public rest rooms, a lobby with an informationcenter, and 8,000-square feet of high-ceilinged commercial space onFlat Street.The project is the culmination of a long-time goal of the Town ofBrattleboro, which partnered with the Vermont Agency of Transportation,the State of Vermont Downtown Program, and U.S. Senator James Jeffords(I-Vt.) to bring it to completion. Jeffords was able to secure federalfunding for both the garage and the refurbishing of Union Station, whichshares a building with the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.”The Brattleboro Transportation Center is a wonderful example of how wecan bring vitality back to our downtown areas while at the same time makeimportant upgrades that will help residents and visitors alike,” Jeffordssaid. “Improving our public transit system is an essential step forstruggling downtown centers, and this project is a model for others tofollow.”The key to the center’s success will be the ability of employees andresidents of downtown to take advantage of it. That will free up most ofthe Main Street parking for people who want to come to town to shop.”We’ve lost some downtown businesses because employees didn’t have parkingavailable,” said Donna Simons of A Candle in the Night. “And parking hasalways been a problem for the residents of downtown.”The 120,000-square-foot building is located between Flat Street andElliot Street on the former Bradley parking lot site. It has entrances andexits on both streets and an elevator serving all four levels. This meansno more climbing a hill between Flat and Elliot streets. The area has alsobeen improved with safer sidewalks, attractive lighting and drainage,creating a more efficient and friendly route.A great deal of thought has gone into security. The space will beopen and well-lit, and have closed-circuit cameras that will be monitoredby the police station. Each level will also have two security phones thathook up with the police dispatcher. A fire detection system and asprinkler system have been installed throughout for additional safety.The Parking Enforcement Office will be located on the Flat Street side.Parking will be both by the hour through pay-and-display machines,and by the month with permits. Rates for daily parking (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.Monday through Saturday) will be: a $1.00 coin for 300 minutes (5 hours);25 cents for 75 minutes; 10 cents for 30 minutes; five cents for 15minutes.Open permit parking will be $25 a month. Reserved permit spaceswill cost $55 a month. This compares to $70 plus a month forcurbside/metered parking. Long-term parking will cost $5 a day withadvance purchase, excluding Sundays and holidays.Financing for the center came from a $4 million local bond, morethan $3.5 million in federal money, and $1.6 million from the VermontAgency of Transportation and the State of Vermont Downtown Program.The idea of a town parking garage was first proposed more than 20 yearsago. Various civic, business and town groups have tried to make it areality ever since. At one point, the Brattleboro Area Chamber ofCommerce went as far as pre-selling parking spaces to raise the money, butthe town voted down the project.The current facility is the result of the work of the DowntownParking Study Committee, a citizens group that was formed in 1997.”After nearly seven years of work by the citizens Downtown ParkingStudy Committee it is gratifying to see the project come to fruition,”said committee chairman Robert Woodworth. “We have believed all along thatthe Brattleboro Transportation Center will be the lynch pin project toBrattleboro’s future downtown viability.”The project was designed by the architectural firm of Wallace FloydDesign Group. The site was engineered by Stevens & Associates,managed by New England Management Company, and constructed by DEWConstruction.