Coffee shop struggles with St. Paul street construction

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BURLINGTON, VT – Perky Planet Coffee Shop is making a difference one cup of coffee at a time.

“People with disabilities are still people we can work just as hard and make just as good money as people without disabilities,” said Kate Bove, an employee at Perky Planet.

 Kate Bove is 31 years old and has a rare genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome.

“We are still equal. I feel really grateful that i’m working at a place where people understand that,” said Bove.

The coffee shop employs those with disabilities and has a mission of inclusion.

“We want to pay meaningful and competitively paid and inclusive jobs for people with disabilities. We also want to be a venue for our neighbors to come in and get to know, value, and respect our employees,” said owner Richard Vaughn.       

Perky Planet says there’s been one thing holding them back.

“With all this construction it’s been really hard because every day i’m like will my job still be here. I don’t want this place to go under,” said Bove.

Perky Planet is located on St. Paul Street. St. The street has been closed for over a year because of construction.

“I’ve had to portray this business as a victim of construction rather than a thriving business that happens to employ people with disabilities,” said Vaughn

Vaughn said the construction schedule has changed multiple times since they’ve opened.

“Originally, the schedule was that they were going to shut the street down last August until Thanksgiving.  Then re-open it as a temporary street until April and then shut it down and finish it up by Labor Day. They never reopened the street,” said Vaugh. “This was done in order to avoid doing full spectrum testing for contaminated soils.”

However, employees remain optimistic

“I hope it stays open and people continue to find out about us and the message we send,” said Bove.

Local 22 and Local 44 spoke with Spencer Chapin, Burlington’s Director of Public Works who says construction schedules were put out before they began working on St. Paul Street. He also said there are many complications that come with working on a street that is 200 years old. Chapin says many issues were not known until actual work began.

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