It was a good week for weather and a good start to the next phase in building the new drainage system in central downtown.
Today’s update also features information on how you can contribute ideas to 1) where we locate our rail station platform for Amtrak service and 2) what Triangle Park and Printer’s Alley will look like after the project is complete. And I’ll introduce you to the new town employee who will be responsible for enforcing our parking regulations downtown.
First, the news.
As planned, Maine Drilling & Blasting mobilized into Printer’s Alley on Monday and immediately got to work. You’ll remember that last week ECI excavated the area down to marble bedrock. Maine D&B’s job now is to construct the launch pit that will serve as the center point of the new drainage system. This is a 40-foot-diameter pit that will extend 38 feet below the surface.
The first order of business is for Maine D&B to drill approximately 130 six-inch-diameter full-depth holes around the perimeter of the launch pit (full depth = 38 feet deep). The purpose of these “relief holes” is to keep much of the vibrational impact of the blasting that will follow within the launch pit. I’m gathering info on the how and when of the blasting and will share that with you as we get closer to that part of the project. In the meantime, we’re looking at another 2-3 weeks of drilling to prepare for the first round of blasting.
ECI remained in Printer’s Alley this week, preparing the construction area for the arrival of a crane in a few weeks. The crane’s job will be to lower Maine D&B’s drill (a smaller version of the one currently at work) into the launch pit as the work progresses further below ground.
The drilling taking place is fairly loud and I wouldn’t advise, as I did, standing a few feet away from the drill to watch it in action without a good set of ear plugs. The good news is that, from my conversations with folks who work in the National Bank, the Post Office, and Marble Works, the noise from drilling is not nearly as disruptive as we feared.
What’s On Tap the Week of May 14
Next week is all about drilling. All work will be contained within Printer’s Alley.
All sidewalks remain open, and no road closures are planned. The pedestrian pathway connecting Main Street to Marble Works through Printer’s Alley remains open. Please do pay attention to the flaggers as you walk through the area.
New Town Hire To Enforce Parking Regulations Downtown
On Thursday I had an opportunity to meet the newest town employee, Heidi Lacey. Heidi starts work next week monitoring downtown parking and enforcing our two-hour limit on parking.
The Middlebury Selectboard knows that the loss of parking spaces in central downtown has had an impact on the Post Office and on the downtown business community. Members of the Selectboard and Town employees have heard from many about the parking crunch and that some individuals park their cars for hours at a time downtown. To help, the Selectboard and Town Manager took action by working with Police Chief Tom Hanley to bring Heidi on board.
A Middlebury resident, Heidi will patrol our downtown parking areas from approximately 10 AM – 3 PM six days a week. Her presence downtown should help with more timely turnover of parking spots, particularly in front of the Post Office and on Merchants Row.
Those Parking Spaces Alongside Triangle Park
In other parking news, several people contacted me this week about the five parking spots that sit alongside Triangle Park on Main Street.
As I mentioned previously, although the contractor has the right to take those five spots now, we worked out an arrangement whereby they would remain open to the public until construction begins in Triangle Park.
This week we had to adjust that arrangement and provide some parking for contractor vehicles. The new arrangement shares the spaces, with two spots set aside for contractors and three remaining open to public parking.
That will remain in place for about another two weeks, at which time those five spots will be fenced off for the foreseeable future to allow safe contractor access in and out of Triangle Park. Thanks for your patience as we adjust to life with full-time construction downtown.
Upcoming Public Meetings
Last week I sat in on the first meeting of the Steering Committee that will work with the Town, the Regional Planning Commission, and engineering firm VHB to perform an analysis of various locations and recommend a site for the rail platform that will serve as the Middlebury stop for Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Service to NYC.
I’ve read the Front Porch Forum posts, and I know there’s considerable interest in this issue. A public meeting will take place in the next few weeks to gather your ideas. Watch for an announcement from the Town, and I will relay that information once I have it in hand.
While we’re on the topic of public meetings, later this month we will be convening the first public meeting to collect ideas on how we envision using the expanded Village Green and Printer’s Alley once we cross the finish line with the Bridge & Rail Project. At this meeting, we’ll learn what are the “givens” for these spaces, and you’ll have an opportunity to join in on the public reimagining of our downtown green space.
That’s all for today. See you downtown.
Please keep your comments and questions coming. Send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll try to cover it in my next update.