2021 Update #38
See You Downtown!
For the past six years I’ve had a front row seat to one of the most complex construction projects ever undertaken by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, one that has transformed our downtown landscape.
That unique vantage point gave me an opportunity not just to share the story of this project with you from the onset but to help build the kind of partnership and common purpose between the state and the town that would be needed to manage through the inevitable hardships and challenges of a project on this scale.
I also had a front row seat to our town government and town leaders in action and to the spirit that animates so much of our community and that gives me great confidence in our ability to deal with whatever comes our way. And a lot has come our way recently!
Our key institutions—the Middlebury Selectboard, the Better Middlebury Partnership, Town Hall Theater, St. Stephen’s, and the National Bank to name just a few—are run by strong leaders who believe in the power of community and our ability to manage change. They rose to the challenge of this project and made it better as a result.
We’ve talked a lot over the years about Neighbors Together and how this all-volunteer group representing all the key organizations and businesses in Middlebury, including Middlebury College, committed itself to managing the impact of this project on our community. It bears repeating that this exceptional demonstration of the power of volunteerism led directly to the Agency of Transportation providing the Town with a $300,000 grant to invest in promoting our businesses and sustaining the vitality of downtown during the construction project.
And while to many the downtown construction was an inconvenience that cost a few minutes here and there, others had to live with the project day in and day out for four years.
Our downtown business community, and especially those located in the heart of the construction downtown—Sabai Sabai, Sweet Cecily, Main Street Stationery, IPJ, Edgewater Gallery, the Vermont Book Shop, the Middlebury Post Office, and the Marble Works business community—deserve to be recognized and thanked for the hardship they endured for the greater good of the community.
So, too, do the residents of Water Street, South Pleasant Street, the Battell Block, Seymour Street, the Marble Works, and elsewhere around town who are now (I hope!) sleeping more peacefully at night.
Finally, thank you for your comments, questions, concerns, and support throughout this project. It’s been a remarkable and rewarding experience. If there any further updates, I’ll be sharing them with you and I’m still here to answer any questions you might have.
Your (Final?) Weekly Construction Update
Lafayette was in town this week to put in the final section of steel railing fence at the platform. And if you were in town on Thursday, you probably noticed a VTrans crew drilling one of two monitoring wells on the Town Green (the other is behind the Seymour Street fire station). Those will be used to monitor groundwater levels in central downtown.
That’s all for today. See you downtown.