This Week, Next Week; Livening Up Merchants Row; Imagining New Public Spaces
The Week’s Recap
A fourth and fifth blast took place in Printer’s Alley as scheduled this week on Monday and Tuesday, completing the initial round of blasting. The launch pit, that 40-foot-diameter centerpiece of the new downtown drainage system, now sits eight feet deep.
ECI then excavated rock fractured by the blasts, loading it into trucks that then transported the rock to Heffernan Brothers in Bristol, where it will be crushed and reused at a later date.
In Riverfront Park, the green space in Marble Works that overlooks Otter Creek Falls, work progressed steadily throughout the week on building a graveled roadway for the construction team to use in accessing an area above Otter Creek that will house part of downtown’s new drainage system. The roadway will be removed next Spring and our park fully restored.
Looking Ahead to Next Week
Maine D&B will be back in the launch pit on Friday, drilling in preparation for the next round of blasting, which will take the launch pit down another eight feet. You may remember that the plan is to reach a depth of 38 feet. Drilling will continue on Monday and Tuesday next week and then we will likely see three consecutive days of blasting starting Wednesday.
Kubricky expects to complete the gravel roadway in Riverfront Park on Friday or Monday. Next week we will likely see another subcontractor, Hayward/Baker, arrive to install “soil nails” to stabilize the steep slope that runs from the National Bank’s parking lot down to Otter Creek.
Also next week Kubricky plans to raise some manholes in the area along Otter Creek below Cross Street in preparation for constructing the Water Street access road that will connect to the Battell parking lot. Construction of that access road will now likely begin the week of June 18.
A New Gallery on Merchants Row
Earlier this week I published an interview with Neighbors Together highlighting the several initiatives underway to manage the impact of construction on our central downtown.
One of those initiatives arrived this week on Merchants Row in the form of “fence art” now on display on the chain-link fence panels fronting Triangle Park.
The first two “installations” are Kate Gridley’s Mondrian-inspired “Middlebury Boogie Woogie” and “Jardin D.O.” from our talented Diversified Occupations students at MUHS. Kate and her niece added some lively color to our downtown experience and it was great to see a group of high school students in town for most of the day, enjoying a day out. Thanks to our friends at Town Hall Theater for organizing this effort and adding some fun and color to downtown Middlebury. Look for more fence art in the near future!
Imagining Our New Public Spaces
Printer’s Alley, under construction for the next three years, is the essential gateway between central downtown and the Marble Works community. What will it look like when the project is complete?
Triangle Park, that central green space at the intersection of Main Street and Merchants Row downtown, will be four times its current size when the Agency of Transportation leaves town in 2021. What will it look like?
Some 35 local citizens gathered this past Tuesday at the Town Offices to begin to answer these questions. The public meeting, organized by Middlebury landscape design firm LandWorks, was a collaborative, blue-sky session designed to put ideas on the table for consideration. Two additional public meetings in July and August will evaluate how these ideas come together into a design plan.
Two of the more interesting ideas to surface at the meeting were 1) bringing our Farmer’s Market back downtown to Triangle Park and 2) creating a Trail In Middlebury (TIM), similar to our Trail Around Middlebury, or TAM, that connects our public spaces, businesses, and places of interest downtown. Public restrooms, bike racks, chess tables, and a playground were just some of the many other ideas to surface.
I’ll keep you posted on the timing of the July meeting.
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.