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December vote is likely on new Middlebury town office plan

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury officials and Bread Loaf Corp. have mapped out a tentative planning schedule that would culminate in a December vote on a new municipal building and community recreation facility.
The new schedule is being suggested by Bread Loaf, recently hired by the selectboard to draw up plans for the two new buildings. The timeline was set up to allow for considerable community input, according to a calendar and timeline unveiled on Tuesday by the ad hoc Town Offices and Recreation Facilities Steering Committee.
Officials unveiled the proposed calendar and timeline early this week. It calls for, among other things:
•  Steering committee meetings during the upcoming Tuesdays of Sept. 3 and 24; Oct. 8 and 22; and Dec. 5.
•  “Public progress meetings” on Thursday, Sept. 12; Thursday, Oct. 17; and Tuesday, Dec. 12.
•  Pre-bond vote presentations on Tuesday, Dec. 19. All of the aforementioned meetings will be open to the public.
•  Bread Loaf to develop conceptual design drawings of the new facilities between Sept. 3 and Oct. 4. This will entail, among other things, reviewing program summaries for both structures based on input from town staff and the public at large. Bread Loaf also expects to be able to provide some project cost estimates, mechanical systems options and permitting details.
•  Bread Loaf to produce a project schedule on Oct. 7 that will outline all the required activities and milestones for complete design, engineering, permitting, bidding and construction activities. Cost estimates will be expected to align with the $7.5-million budget.
During the final week leading up to an as-yet-unspecified December bond vote, Bread Loaf will also furnish a PowerPoint presentation, including site plan, 3-D images and a physical model, to help explain the two building projects and associated costs to taxpayers.
“We are really at the beginning of this process,” Selectman Victor Nuovo, leader of the steering committee, said on Tuesday.
The two new structures would replace the current municipal building and gym located at the intersection of College and South Main streets. As part of a proposed deal with Middlebury College, those deteriorating buildings would be removed and the land preserved as a new park. The town would move the college-owned Osborne House from its current location at 77 Main St. to a town-owned parcel at the intersection of Cross and Water streets. The college would in turn contribute $4.5 million toward construction of the two new buildings, with town offices to be constructed at the vacated 77 Main St. site and a “recreation center,” as it is now being described, to be erected in the recreation park off Mary Hogan Drive.
Middlebury College would contribute another $1 million for demolition of the current town offices/gym and relocation of the Osborne House. Local taxpayers would have to assume $2 million of the total $7.5 million project.
It is a proposed deal that has drawn a lot of public reaction. Supporters like the idea of receiving substantial aid, a new park, gym and new town offices that would remain in the downtown. Opponents have objected to the rapidity with which the concept has advanced; the notion that the town offices/gym would not be rebuilt on site; and concerns that the new town office building would not possess enough on-site parking, and might hamper the adjacent Ilsley Library’s future growth.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com

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