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2018 Update #25

More Blasting; Work Begins in Riverfront Park; What’s Neighbors Together Up To?

Hope everyone enjoyed the near-perfect early Summer weather this weekend.

This week gets underway with more blasting of ledge in Printer’s Alley on Monday and Tuesday, followed by a day or two excavating the fractured rock resulting from this first round of blasting.

Late Friday Kubricky received clearance from the Agency of Transportation to begin work in Riverfront Park (that’s the formal name of the park in Marble Works overlooking Otter Creek Falls). The job here is to construct a temporary roadway that will allow the construction team to access an area just above Otter Creek in order to build the “outfall” for the new drainage system.

The temporary roadway will extend from the lower section of the paved pedestrian pathway that runs from the Marble Works across Otter Creek, then along the lower ledge above Otter Creek to a spot below the National Bank’s parking lot. I’ll have more detail on the sequence of work as we get underway.

Work on the Water Street temporary access road will begin as work in Riverfront Park winds up.

The Neighbors Together Story

Let’s turn our attention now to a different kind of construction project, this one concerned with building community and support for Middlebury businesses. Here the lead “contractor” is Neighbors Together. You may remember that Neighbors Together ran the Info Booth in Cannon Park during last summer’s temporary bridges project.

Recently I sat down with Nancy Malcolm, co-chair of Neighbors Together, and Karen Duguay, marketing director for the Better Middlebury Partnership, for an up-close look at what Neighbors Together has planned in 2018.

For those who may not be familiar with the Better Middlebury Partnership or with the Neighbors Together community action group, would you give us a brief overview of the two organizations and tell us how they are working together this year?

NM: Neighbors Together was originally formed by members of St Stephen’s Episcopal Church with the sole purpose of helping the community survive and thrive throughout the Rail and Bridge Project.

It was immediately apparent that partners were needed to better achieve our goals. Partners willingly came on board and to date they include: St Stephen’s, the Better Middlebury Partnership, the Town of Middlebury, the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, Middlebury College, Town Hall Theater, Middlebury’s Downtown Improvement District, the National Bank of Middlebury, the Addison Central Supervisory District, Porter Medical Center, the Sheldon Museum, Addison County Teens, and members at large. The Better Middlebury Partnership became a lead partner and has continued in that role.

KD: The Better Middlebury Partnership is a nonprofit organization in Middlebury that works to create a vibrant Middlebury community through events like WinterFest, Midd Summer Music and Movies, Very Merry Middlebury, Spooktacular, and the Vermont Chili Festival as well as through advocacy, the building of community partnerships, and community development.

The BMP is a lead partner of the Neighbors Together group and has been hired by the Town of Middlebury to manage the efforts of Neighbors Together volunteers to market and promote the community.

We’re just underway with a three-year construction project in the heart of downtown Middlebury. What do you hope to achieve during the course of this project?

NM: We are here to support our community throughout this challenging period with the goal of coming out with some improvements that will help us go forward after the project is completed. We recognize that this is not easy and we are not naïve to the challenges that we face. It is apparent that we need the backing of the community to be successful.

KD: In 2018, our goals are 1) to drive local business revenue with marketing and promotions, 2) to invest in the infrastructure needed to support Middlebury’s business community throughout and beyond this project, 3) to use this year to help us evaluate the effectiveness of our 2018 initiatives for future investments and planning for the next two years, 4) to increase the vitality of the community, and 5) to promote stronger community partnerships.

What funding do you have work with?

KD: We are currently budgeted to spend $115,000 in 2018. That represents a $75,000 grant from the Agency of Transportation to the Town of Middlebury to market Middlebury’s business community and a $40,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promote Middlebury businesses using digital media. The USDA grant includes a local contribution from Middlebury’s Downtown Improvement District Commission.

What is the one most significant investment you’ll make this year in supporting our downtown businesses and organizations? Why is it important?

KD: One of the most significant investments we’re making this year is in a Shop Local rewards program called “Midd Money Match.” With this program, you, as a customer, will pick up a rewards card at any Middlebury business. Each card has ten blank spaces. Your card will get one stamp when you have spent at least $10 at a local business. When your card is filled with 10 stamps, you can turn it at the National Bank of Middlebury or the Town Office Treasurer to receive $10 in Middlebury Money.

We’re currently working on outreach to all Middlebury businesses to introduce the program, answer questions, and get them set up with taking Middlebury Money if they do not already. We’re anticipating rolling this program out in July. Look for more info in the next few weeks!

We’ll continue Part 2 of our interview with Karen and Nancy tomorrow. That’s all for today. See you downtown.

Please keep your comments and questions coming. Send me an email at and I’ll try to cover it in my next update.

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