Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Progress slow on Rockville transportation hub

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
August 18, 2006

VERNON - The federal grant allocated for an "intermodal transportation center" in downtown Rockville section of town will be about $1.2 million less than originally expected.

The latest estimates put the grant at about $5.3 million, which is significantly less than the $6.53 million award announced last summer by U.S. Rep. Robert R. Simmons, R-2nd District, and other members of the state's congressional delegation, Mayor Ellen L. Marmer said Thursday.

That money was part of a $286.4 billion transportation bill signed into law by President Bush last summer.

Although she would have liked to see the town receive all the money that had been announced, Marmer said, reductions in federal grants are not unusual.

Meanwhile, the town is still developing a plan that would allow it to begin receiving the grant money, according to Marmer.

Officials are close to wrapping up negotiations with the Greater Hartford Transit District, which town officials hope will serve as the grant's administrator.

If the transit district agrees to work with the town, they will act as a conduit for receiving the funds from the federal government and passing them onto the town.

Marmer said she hoped the negotiations with the transit district could be completed within "a couple of weeks."

With a grant administrator in place, Marmer said she would then appoint a committee of various downtown stakeholders to oversee planning for the project.

Among the committee's responsibilities would be the hiring of a planning consultant to develop a site plan and concept for the center.

Past ideas for the center have included a multi-level parking garage with an enclosed bus stop. Officials have considered placing the structure on land now occupied by the parking lot of 33 W. Main St., home of the new adult education center.

But no site has been formally selected as home of the new center.

Marmer said representatives of the Rockville Downtown Association and Rockville General Hospital would be a part of the planning committee.

The subject of the transportation center came up at a recent meeting of the downtown group's board of directors, with some board members expressing concern about the scope of the group's role in the project.

"There is no disagreement as far as I'm concerned," Marmer said of the RDA. "They will be part of it as far as a group that has a vested interest. They certainly cannot run the project."

Attempts to reach RDA officials for comment today were unsuccessful.

The federal grant will be distributed to the town in phases over a period of five years. The town will also be responsible for providing a 20 percent match to the grant, which will break out to about $212,000 a year.

Marmer said funding to match the grant has been included in the town's capital improvements budget.

Because of the bureaucratic "red tape" that still needs to be cleared to receive the funds, Marmer said, there is no timetable for the completion of construction.

"In terms of the bureaucracy, I'd settle for getting it started," Marmer said.

©Journal Inquirer 2006