Cost to fix Middlebury town gym higher than expected

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury selectboard members got somewhat of a jolt at their meeting last Tuesday when they received an estimate that it would cost $525,000 to bring the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems of the municipal gym up to modern working standards, an amount that is just $50,000 short of the $575,000 sum that officials had hoped would suffice in making the well-used building completely up to speed.
The “Gym Task Force” has been working for several months to size up repairs to the building, erected in 1939. The gym has fallen into some disrepair over the years. The town has been whittling away at repairs to the structure during the past decade, including installing a new membrane roof, a new fire alarm system and conversion of the facility’s light fixtures to more energy-efficient varieties.
But town officials have also mapped out a list of what they say are some additional necessary repairs, including:
•  Replacing all 10 of the large gym windows with energy efficient, low maintenance models that replicate as closely as possible the design and divisions of the existing windows. All other windows in the structure would also be replaced with more energy-efficient models.
•  Rehabbing or replacing the double doors at the west entrance of the building that have been closed since 2010, when the related outdoor stairs were removed to allow for construction of Academy Street.
•  Installing a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
•  Installing a security/access control system with two main entrances/exits.
•  Putting in basic men’s and women’s changing rooms, showers and toilets in what is now the girls’ locker room on the lower level.
•  Removing all the old bleachers and installing new, code-compliant bleachers on one side of the gym only.
Those upgrades would, of course, add to the $525,000 that Engineering Services of Vermont has now identified as being needed to fix the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
The next step in the evaluation of the gym will involve hiring someone to ballpark the costs of bringing the other essential components of the structure up to a contemporary standard, according to Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay.
Selectboard members have been proceeding with the assumption that the gym will be upgraded and preserved, while the adjacent municipal building will be razed and replaced with a new town office/community center.
In other recent action, the Middlebury selectboard:
•  Endorsed a resolution supporting the Addison County Community Trust and Housing Vermont’s application to the Vermont Community Development Program for funding to redevelop the affordable housing at 31-37 North Pleasant St. and John Graham Court. Ramsay noted the project consists of the rehab and energy-retrofit of three historic buildings, and the demolition and redevelopment of eight new apartment units in two buildings, which has been approved by the Middlebury Development Review Board. The grant application will be for $460,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding, which will be passed through the town and loaned to the project at no interest for 30 years.
•  Executed an agreement with New Haven for the maintenance of Cobble Road, which is located between Route 116 and Munger Street in the northeast corner of town. 
•  Reviewed a request by Agri-Mark/Cabot to increase its Middlebury cheese plant’s local wastewater discharge permit from 350,000 gallons per day to 450,000 gallons per day. Ramsay noted the plant is currently bumping up against the 350,000 limit set more than 20 years ago.
•  Acknowledged the impending retirement of Public Works Secretary Verna Watson after 33 years of service.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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