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Work to kick off on new Middlebury buildings

MIDDLEBURY — A group of Middlebury officials will gather at a now-vacant 77 Main St. site at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, to turn the first ceremonial spades of earth, thus beginning what will be a year-long effort to erect the community’s new municipal building.
Also this week, work crews will prepare for demolition of the former Middlebury American Legion building on Creek Road, a ramshackle structure that will be replaced by a new 11,500-square-foot recreation facility that will include a team-rooms addition for Middlebury Union high and middle schools.
The activity at both sites follows years of study, discussion and a bruising, at-times fractious public debate that led up to voter approval last year of a $6.5 million financing plan for the two new structures.
The project drew opposition from a number of residents who wanted to see the town rebuild its deteriorating municipal building and gym at their present location at 94 Main St., a site that will instead be cleared and converted into a public park under the ownership of Middlebury College.
Supporters argued that the collaboration with the college would still keep the municipal building downtown while allowing for the two new structures at a cost of only $2 million to taxpayers.
The college will be assuming $4.5 million of debt service on the $6.5 million project in return for the 94 Main St. site and a town-owned parcel off Cross Street. The college’s Osborne House was relocated last October by Bread Loaf Corp. and Messier House Moving & Construction from 77 Main St. to that Cross Street lot. In late January and early February utility companies buried some power and cable TV lines on the 77 Main property, and workers will now prepare the spot for the new, 9,400-square-foot municipal building.
Selectman Nick Artim is chairman of the Middlebury Town Offices and Recreation Facilities Steering Committee, a panel that has coordinated planning for the two new buildings. He is pleased to see work begin.
“It’s a thrill,” Artim said. “When you consider the fact that it’s been 23 years we have been trying to solve this problem, it’s almost surreal that (the start of construction) is here. It is a tribute to the perseverance and trying to find the right solutions.”
Officials from general contractor Bread Loaf Corp. provided the following schedule of project milestones that passersby will notice during the months ahead:
• Municipal building. Site work will begin the second week of April. Excavation, basement and building foundation are to be completed in mid-June. The building structure, siding, brick veneer and roof should be completed by early October. Trees and landscaping are to be put in place by late October. Interior work in what is to be a highly energy-efficient building is slated to start in mid-August and end in February. Officials believe the building will be ready for occupancy late next winter.
• Recreation facility. The site will be fenced off and prepared for work during the last week of March. Demolition of the existing Legion building is to occur during the first week of April. Foundation work will run through mid-June. Construction of the new recreation facility, including windows, siding and brick veneer and roof, should be done by the middle of October. Interior finishes, equipment and flooring are to be completed by mid-February. Occupancy is expected by early spring 2016.
Periodic updates on the project will be provided in the pages of the Addison Independent and at Middlebury’s website, www.townofmiddlebury.org.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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