Town of Middlebury to buy conservation land

MIDDLEBURY — At their meeting Tuesday, members of the Middlebury selectboard discussed a proposed municipal budget (see story on Page 1A).
In other action on Tuesday, the Middlebury selectboard:
•  Authorized Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay to close on a deal to buy 38.3 acres of conservation land off Washington Street Extension near Chipman Hill. The land, previously considered for a housing subdivision, will be purchased for $150,000 with money on hand in the town’s conservation fund.
•  Learned that a committee charged with recruiting and hiring the town’s business development director has interviewed two of three finalists in anticipation of recommending a hire to the selectboard on Feb. 12. The business development director will be responsible for, among other things, bringing new business and jobs to Middlebury and helping existing enterprises grow. The director’s salary will be paid from a new fund approved last year (for five years) by Middlebury taxpayers and features a substantial contribution from the business community.
“I think we are all feeling confident we will get the right person,” said Selectman Nick Artim, a member of the Middlebury Business Development Fund Advisory Board.
•  Received a progress report on efforts to replace the railroad overpasses on Merchants Row and Main Street in downtown Middlebury. Former Middlebury Town Manager Bill Finger is serving as the town’s project manager. He has identified some engineers wanting to take on the job, the first step in working with state and federal rail authorities to get funding for what is to be a locally coordinated project.
•  Awarded a $2,750 contract to Engineering Services of Vermont to complete an assessment of the municipal gymnasium’s antiquated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. This assessment is part of the town’s effort to establish the scope of work needed to make the municipal gym more energy efficient and usable for the long term. Town officials want to retain the gym but replace the adjacent town offices with a new building that they believe would be the first energy-neutral municipal building in the state.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@add

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