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Regional Report: Middlebury Approves Town Office Project

Folks in Middlebury have been grappling with an issue that has divided the town: how to replace the aging town offices, and whether or not to accept an offer from Middlebury College to help with that project.

John Flowers is a reporter for the Addison Independent, and he spoke with VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb for our Friday Regional Report.

The issue was divisive because some were upset that the framework of the plan was laid out in meetings between Middlebury College leaders and just a few select board members. Some people disagreed with the plan because they wanted the town to rehabilitate the current town office building.

The project will cost $6.5 million. The college is contributing $4.5 million. The college gets to acquire the site of the current town offices and they’ll take down the town office to build a park in its place. The town will build a new office next to the library. The building on that property will be moved to a tow- owned property, to be given to the college. And a gymnasium/recreation center will be built on Creek Road, outside of downtown. Work will begin on all of these projects by the end of this year.

On Town Meeting Day, the Select Board Chair Dean George, a supporter of the project, was re-elected. Craig Bingham, a vocal opponent of the project was not re-elected. Of the two new select board members chosen, one supports the project, the other does not.

The project is just one of many that will transform the way Middlebury’s downtown looks in coming months. Construction will begin this spring to replace two railroad overpasses in the center of town, and another building at the entrance of the town’s Marble Works complex will also be replaced.