MIDDLEBURY HAS AT least a dozen storefronts that have become empty for a variety of reasons. Here's one on the end of the Battell Block. Independent photo/Angelo Lynn
MIDDLEBURY — The Better Middlebury Partnership (BMP) is looking to beef up its annual budget locally and through contributions from six neighboring communities as it works to help downtown Middlebury rebound from the impacts of a massive rail tunnel project and an eight-month-old COVID-19 pandemic that is currently surging. Karen Duguay, executive director of the BMP, recently presented the Middlebury selectboard with a fiscal year 2022 request for $30,000 in town funding, up $5,000 from this year. In addition, the BMP will ask for $1,000 each from the towns of Bridport, Cornwall, Ripton,...
MIDDLEURY — The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the community’s new downtown master plan, a 138-page blueprint showing how the core village area could grow and flourish during the next decade and beyond. “It’s exceeded my expectations,” selectboard member Lindsey Fuentes-George said of the document, which includes more than 130 recommendations on how to promote the ideals of orderly growth in housing, retail, green spaces, the local arts scene and other downtown assets. “It’s obviously aspirational — thinking big,” she added. “It gives us a framework for talking about...
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday got its first look at a proposed development playbook for the community’s downtown, a 138-page document that suggests areas where housing, artistic endeavors and a thriving retail/restaurant scene could flourish with the right investment and foresight. The “2020 Downtown Middlebury Master Plan” has been three years in the making, a product of many hours of public testimony and the collective efforts of the town’s planning commission, Director of Planning & Zoning Jen Murray, and a consulting team that included Town Planning & Urban...

VERMONT SECRETARY OF Transportation Joe Flynn cuts the ribbon before the ceremonial first train traveled through Middlebury's new rail tunnel on Friday. Independent photo/Steve James
MIDDLEBURY — More than four years of planning, dozens of often contentious meetings, a 10-week burst of around-the-clock construction and $72 million in state and federal funding all came down to a seven-minute train ride on Friday, Sept. 18, that ceremoniously signaled the completion of a massive new rail tunnel and the reopening of downtown Middlebury. Scores of facemask-wearing spectators lined the route of the “first train” with eight rail cars that hosted various municipal and Middlebury College dignitaries; representatives of Kubricky Corp., VHB Engineers and the Vermont Agency of...
While I appreciate the Independent’s effort to highlight the grit on display by downtown Middlebury businesses in John Flowers’s Aug. 6 article, “Middlebury shops tough it out,” I take exception to the statement that, “not all downtown stakeholders have taken a grin-and-bear-it attitude toward the construction,” and, “a few businesses have remained closed rather than try to gut it out amid the project turmoil.” First, let’s name those businesses, as anonymity itself suggests stigma. They are: Sabai Sabai, Kiss the Cook, Main Street Stationery, Danforth Pewter, and — my own — the Vermont Book...

THIS SUMMER’S AROUND-THE-CLOCK construction in downtown Middlebury is taking a toll on those who reside and do business there. But most merchants contacted by the Independent this week said they’re getting by thanks to loyal customers, and they’re looking forward to the conclusion of the heaviest work by mid-September. Independent photo/Alexa Lapiner
MIDDLEBURY — Downtown Middlebury is taking some uppercuts during its summer-long battle with a once-in-a-lifetime construction project. But those on the front lines — the downtown merchants, residents and shoppers — continue to pick themselves off the canvass and remain committed to going the full 15 rounds. And prevailing. That’s the general takeaway from a series of interviews with property owners, residents and local officials who are literally living with the cacophony of noise, dust, nighttime lighting, detours and other inconveniences of a $72 million rail tunnel installation project...

THE TOWN OF Middlebury recently concluded a five-day “Planapalooza” to create its first-ever downtown master plan, which will include ideas on how development could responsibly occur in a downtown that is already substantially built out. Seen here is the notion of a “pocket neighborhood” surrounding St. Mary’s School off Shannon Street. Graphic courtesy of Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative LLC
MIDDLEBURY — A “pocket neighborhood” surrounding the former St. Mary’s School off Shannon Street and a reimagined economic development initiative off Bakery Lane are just two concepts for the future of downtown Middlebury as brainstormed by participants at a flurry of recent planning sessions. Middlebury officials and a town-hired consultant will spend the coming months processing a variety of comments and concepts offered by dozens of residents during a five-day “Planapalooza,” a series of events aimed at shaping the community’s first-ever downtown master plan. A draft of that plan — which...

MIDDLEBURY — For the first time in its history, the Better Middlebury Partnership (BMP) is asking for out-of-town donations to help subsidize the special holiday and recreational events — like the annual Spooktacular and WinterFest — that county residents have come to enjoy through the years. The BMP’s financial crunch has become more acute in recent years because it has had to drop a few popular fundraising events that have been key in underwriting its annual slate of activities. Chief among the fundraiser casualties was the annual Vermont Chili Fest, which attracted 40-50 chefs and...

DOWNTOWN MIDDLEBURY HAS been a beehive of construction activity this week as workers prepare the rail corridor for a tunnel that will replace the Merchants Row and Main Street rail bridges. Independent photo/Steve James
MIDDLEBURY — Both pedestrian and vehicular traffic in downtown Middlebury was slower than usual this week, as work on the $72 million rail bridges replacement project jumped from the train corridor to Main Street. Main Street traffic was relegated to one lane beginning on Monday as two Kubricky Construction crews excavated several feet below the blacktop to install two new sewer manholes, one directly in front of the National Bank of Middlebury’s Duclos Building and the other at the top of Printer’s Alley, according to Jim Gish, Middlebury’s community liaison for the rail bridges project....

COLIN GRAY OF Ferrisburgh’s Good Companion Bakery makes a sale on Thursday afternoon at the Vergennes Farmers Market on the City Green. Gray estimates that daily sales are up about 75 percent this year thanks to the market being back downtown and to effective promotion by organizers Chris and Sandy Reck. Independent photo/Andy Kirkaldy
VERGENNES — Loaves of bread, croissants and pastry were moving steadily off Good Companion Bakery’s table not far from the monument on the Vergennes City Green this past Thursday afternoon. Manning the table was Colin Gray, who said he had been with the Ferrisburgh bakery since 2012 and working the Vergennes Farmers Market for the past several of those years. This season, with the market back in the city’s downtown park after a two-year absence, has been very successful for Good Companion, Gray said. He estimated the bakery’s take at the market is up by about 75 percent. “Since we’ve come...

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100