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Frog Hollow area considered for park and ride, car charging station

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury selectboard has taken another step in making Frog Hollow a destination point by agreeing to establish an electric vehicle charging station at the municipal parking lot off Mill Street near The Storm Café.
The town will apply to the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development for up to $30,000 to create the station. A local cash or in-kind match of 25 percent will be required to leverage the state funds. Grant recipients will be announced on Jan. 27, 2014.
“(The town) is looking to partner with Addison County Relocalization Network, the Green Mountain Power Innovation Center and the Middlebury Downtown Investment District Commission on this,” said Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay.
Middlebury officials have already agreed to seek funds from the VTrans Municipal Park-and-Ride Program Fund for upgrades to the municipal parking lot in Frog Hollow. Specifically, the selectboard wants to establish a park-and-ride facility in the lot. The proposed $72,000 budget would provide for the installation of historic streetlight fixtures along the eastern edge of the lot, a walkway connecting the end of the sidewalk at The Storm Café to the parking lot, and directional signage. Addison County Transit Resources, which runs several public buses throughout the county, is also supporting the application.
Frog Hollow is already a magnet for tourists and shoppers, given its art galleries, shops and superlative views of the Otter Creek Falls. Having park-and-ride and electric vehicle charging facilities would make the downtown district an even bigger destination point, local officials have reasoned.
Two electric car charging stations already exist at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission offices off Seminary Street in Middlebury.
Middlebury is not guaranteed the electric vehicle charging station funds, however. Designated downtowns throughout the state can apply for a combined total of $200,000 available through the grant program. The funding cannot be used to make any improvements on private property. The stated purpose of the grants is to “support local downtown revitalization efforts and enhance historic downtown areas by allowing electric vehicle owners the opportunity to explore and enjoy downtown amenities while conveniently charging their vehicle.”
Upon their selection, the grant recipients will be expected to plan and install their charging stations within a year. Grant funds will be provided as a reimbursement once the installation has been completed and documented.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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