Rest in pieces

Deconstruction Works — the Bristol-based company that has been tearing down the building at 51 S. Main St. since February — cleared the final pieces of the building last week, opening up space for much-needed downtown parking.

It took nearly eight years, but the former municipal building devastated by flooding after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 has been removed, and just in time for construction on Main Street.

Last week, Deconstruction Works — the Bristol-based company that has been tearing down the building at 51 S. Main St. since February — cleared the final pieces of the building, opening up space for much-needed downtown parking.

“The final step we had left was the removal of the municipal vault,” said William Shepeluk, Waterbury’s municipal manager.

The space opened for parking during the weekend, and contractors were back this week to finish up, grading the surface to make it smooth for parking.

In some ways, the timing could not be better. This week, J.A. McDonald — which broke ground in April on the two-year, $21 million rehabilitation of 1 mile of Main Street — moved its work to the second segment of the project, between Stowe Street and Park Row.

Work began on the south end of Main Street, from Park Row to Demerrit Place, before moving north.

The move means the loss of on-street parking in the segment, but about 30 new parking spaces will be available on site of the former municipal building.

“It would have been nice to have the work completed before the construction began, but we faced several unexpected delays,” Shepeluk said.

When work began at 51 S. Main, Deconstruction Works discovered asbestos, and a specialty contractor had to remove it. In June, more asbestos was discovered; however, immediately finding a specialist to remove it was challenging.

“The companies that do that sort of thing, a lot of them are busy in the summer because they do a lot of work in schools, and summer is when school is not in session,” Shepeluk said.

In December, commissioners for the Edward Farrar Utility District authorized $36,300 for removal of the building. That did not include money for the most recent round of asbestos removal.

The total cost of the project was not immediately available.

The property had belonged to the village government; the utility district inherited it when the village government dissolved.

Municipal officials decided renovating the office building was not cost-effective, and Waterbury built a new $5 million municipal center at 28 N. Main St. that also houses the town library and the Waterbury Historical Society.

While the lot will alleviate parking congestion during the Main Street project, the long-term fate of the property remains unknown. Before the village government dissolved, village trustees had offered to sell the property to the town government. However, the town select board balked at buying the property, suggesting the village give the property to the town.

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