Middlebury waterfront to get a facelift

MIDDLEBURY — Work is scheduled to begin early next month on a project that will beautify and improve public access to the riverfront area of the Marble Works complex that fronts the Otter Creek Falls in Middlebury.
On the drawing board since 2007, the project that calls for, among other things, extensive landscaping throughout the riverfront bank; clearly defined pedestrian pathways, one of which hugs the Otter Creek and another that connects to the walkway leading in and out of the Marble Works; and a small “amphitheater” seating area for groups to congregate and perhaps stage small performances.
The plan also calls for four historic trestle markers with solar lighting, each of which will include interpretive signs; at least five oak and/or maple trees; river restoration plantings; and a rain garden located adjacent to the stone “Gas House” building at the foot of Printer’s Alley.
Middlebury Planning Commission Chairwoman Nancy Malcolm confirmed on Tuesday that boosters are closing in on a $35,000 fund raising goal to round out the project. Primary financing is being provided through a $100,000 earmark from the town’s conservation fund. Around $30,000 was used to gather the necessary permits (including an Act 250 OK received in January) and other related expenses.
“I’m feeling very positive right now that we can do this,” Malcolm said.
She anticipates an eight- to 10-week construction period that will not interrupt the Wednesday and Saturday Farmers’ Market events at the top of the riverfront slope.
“The disruption will be minimal, and it will be well worth it,” Malcolm said.
Supporters are appealing for donations toward the $35,000 goal. Marble Works businesses and residents have given to the cause. Two Marble Works businesses have agreed to host fund raising events to benefit the project. Both of those events will be held on May 9, at American Flatbread and Otter Creek Yoga.
Meanwhile, Middlebury’s Downtown Improvement District Commission voted last week to bankroll the four trestle markers for a combined total of $14,800, according to Malcolm. And Jan Albers, former director of the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, has agreed to write the text for the interpretive signs that will be placed on the trestles. Those trestles will be funded through a $6,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, Malcolm said. The signs will describe the power generation activities throughout the years in the Marble Works and falls area.
Four families have pledged a new tree each for the riverfront project. Those trees will be in remembrance of a family member and will bear a plaque to the effect, Malcolm noted. More tree pledge opportunities remain, according to Malcolm.
Anyone wanting to learn more about, or contribute to, the riverfront project should contact Malcolm at 388-6556.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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