School Street in Stowe village will be partially blocked off for a month starting next week as the owners of the red building on the corner fix a wall that could collapse some day.
The owner of 144 Main Street, which houses Black Cap Café and numerous apartments, asked the town to allow workers to close down the School Street lane nearest to the building, between Main and Pond streets. Owner Carolyn Huerth intends to fix roughly 40 feet of the exterior wall abutting the street, saying it has “been deemed unstable and a potential collapse hazard.”
The select board approved the closure at its meeting Monday night. Work — and the closure — will start next week and take about a month.
Workers will install staging and barriers to create a safe space in case any of the building’s bricks come raining down.
Stowe police chief Don Hull and fire chief Kyle Walker — he’s also the town’s emergency management director — both emphasized the importance of being able to get their vehicles through a narrowed School Street.
“I’m just worried about making that turn,” Walker said about turning a fire truck 90 degrees onto a 12-foot-wide lane. He said coming in the back way, via Depot Street, isn’t any better.
Board member Morgan Nichols, whose family owns Cork restaurant next door, wondered how school buses would maneuver the corner, as well as any delivery trucks to Cork, the Stowe Reporter, Stowe Free Library and Helen Day Art Center or Xpress.
Town manager Charles Safford said the town could make Park Street two-way, like it used to be, if things get dicey. The problem there is it took drivers a long time to get used to Park Street being one way, and the lined parking spaces on it might have to be blacked out for the month.
“People still haven’t figured it out,” Walker said, noting he watched a car go the wrong way down Park Street just a few days earlier.
All traffic woes aside, town officials agree the building needs to be fixed sooner than later, for public safety’s sake.
Board member Willie Noyes, a mechanic, called the building “a ticking time bomb,” and worried it might fall into the road if not fixed.
“I drive by all the time and shake my head. I can’t believe it’s still standing,” Noyes said.
• The board authorized village booster organization Stowe Vibrancy to use the Village Green on Saturday nights for live jazz music. Starting Aug. 22, from 5 to 9 p.m., the organization will promote businesses staying open later and offering takeout food so people can dine, picnic style, on the green.
Volunteers would make sure there are never more than 25 people in any one area, and wear masks when not eating or drinking, said Aimee Green, Stowe Vibrancy executive director.
• The board warned a public hearing to discuss eliminating parking on the east side of Notchbrook Road, where overflow parking during busy times bring complaints to the police department and make it difficult for emergency vehicles, especially fire trucks, to get through. The hearing is scheduled for the next board meeting, Aug. 24. Meetings start at 5:30 p.m.