Let’s talk about Middlebury: Setting the stage for recreation facility

This week’s writer is Dean George, chair of the Middlebury selectboard.
Living and working in Middlebury has charming and enviable qualities apparent to both first-time visitors and long-time residents. Downtown Middlebury has many the attributes that as residents we enjoy: the ability to shop, conduct business at the post office or town offices, take our children to the library, stop in at one of our many fine food establishments, and perhaps have casual interactions with our friends and neighbors. As with many villages, downtown parking is at a premium.
In 2012, the town retained RSG traffic engineers to conduct a parking study, whose final report dated October 2012 can be found on the town website. The purpose of the study was to observe and inventory current parking patterns and capacities. The findings are generally consistent with what we all know to be true: Parking on or adjacent to Main Street is heavily used and Frog Hollow and other parking is underutilized. Their recommendations include: creating some short-term parking in strategic locations, adding signage directing people to Frog Hollow, and having area businesses request that their employees park in underutilized areas identified in the study.
The current proposal places the new town offices on the Osborne site adjacent to the Ilsley Library, which removes five existing parking spaces created with the construction of the Cross St. Bridge, three of which get replaced in reconfiguring the parking layout. An additional two spaces that are currently restricted for Osborne House tenant use will be transferred to public parking, therefore making the parking count the same as it is now. Several spaces in the lot behind the library and proposed town offices will be designated as 15- or 30-minute parking for conducting business in either facility. By committing to a downtown location, this proposal underscores the importance of Middlebury’s walkable downtown and is further reinforced by aligning the existing heavily used crosswalks with the proposed town office exterior plaza and main entry design.
The existing parking spaces around the present town offices, along South Main Street and College Street, as well as the 32 spaces at the municipal gymnasium will remain, while the recreation function will be relocated to Creek Road. This is important to understand that the functions associated with the gymnasium will no longer require parking in the downtown. It is also noteworthy that the town offices are moving approximately 100 yards from their current location and yet parking is not a concern at the current town office site.
Parking at the proposed recreation facility on Creek Road will be adequate for the proposed functions with approximately 124 spaces on site with additional overflow at ACTR and South Village. Most large events such as lacrosse tournaments are accommodated in this way and these existing functions represent a larger traffic volume than the proposed recreation functions. Additional pedestrian connectivity will be accomplished in 2014 because the town was successful in obtaining a grant for a sidewalk extension on Creek Road.
In summary, there is no loss of parking at the Ilsley Library and the existing parking will remain around the current town offices and gymnasium.

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