The City of Montpelier began an aggressive strategy to improve the economic vitality of its downtown and its riverfront areas in 1993. A major component was the redevelopment of the Winooski East Rail Yard, a particularly derelict and under-utilized area of Montpelier's downtown riverfront, into an active place to shop, eat, enjoy the riverfront, and appreciate the city's heritage. Between 1997-1999, the city constructed basic infrastructure along Stone Cutters Way to support the commercial redevelopment of the land and buildings with federal, state, and local funds.
A Phase I environmental assessment was done at that time. During the design phase and through later stages, the public was clear about its expectation that public access to the river (visual or actual) must be provided.
The land is owned by the State of Vermont, through the Agency of Transportation, Rail Division. The city executed a lease agreement encompassing the state-owned portions of the Stone Cutters Way project area (road, bike path, sidewalks). The remaining areas were made available for private sector redevelopment.
Throughout the project, the city maintained its intent to create a public park, an area along Stone Cutters Way specifically reserved and designed for public use and enjoyment with the turntable as a centerpiece. The park development was delayed partly due to lack of design funds, but more due to the unexpected shift in the Washington County Railroad operator's intentions for their future use of the Turntable. Consequently, the Turntable site was removed from the city's lease area for Stone Cutters Way and remains under the jurisdiction of the Agency of Transportation.
The site is located along the north bank of the Winooski River and consists of approximately 0.27 acres of land, which was part of the historic and presently active railroad corridor for the Washington County Railroad. It is bounded by the Winooski River to the west, Stone Cutters Way and the Winooski East Bike Path to the east, the former Salt Shed to the southeast, and a new office building to the northwest.
The adjoining former Salt Shed, owned by the Pyralisk Arts Center, has been approved for a 11,490 square foot community arts center. On the parcel to the northwest, controlled by Railroad Associates, Inc., a 3-story, 30,000 square foot office building office building is currently under construction.
Other Site Information
The rail line along Stone Cutters Way adjacent to the bike path remains
in active rail use, though much less so now with Bombardier in Barre
having been shut down. The site is in the 100 year floodplain. It is
also in the Riverfront Zoning and Design Control Districts. The
Turntable is eligible for listing as a contributing structure on the
Montpelier National Register District, entered on the National Register
on November 3, 1978 and "...is a significant, rare, example of a