Opinion: BMP outlines its priorities for rail bridges project

For the past several months, the Better Middlebury Partnership has worked closely with town officials, the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, community organizations and local business owners to discuss the potential impact to businesses, organizations and the community during the proposed rail project, projected to begin preliminarily in spring 2016.
During this time, we have researched other communities in Vermont that have undergone large-scale projects with significant downtown impact, and connected with the downtown partnerships in those communities to learn how they supported businesses during the construction process. We have worked with the Addison County Chamber to develop a communications and outreach plan, brainstorming ideas that could be used to drive traffic to businesses and bring people into town, as well as possible ideas for combatting construction issues that will likely include confusion about parking as well as vehicular/pedestrian traffic flow.
The BMP has also worked with the town of Middlebury to help develop the job description for the “community liaison” position, which will be responsible for ongoing communication with businesses, organizations and the general public to keep everyone informed with day-to-day information during the project time period. In addition, we have been researching potential grant funds to help supplement marketing, events, promotions and other ideas that could assist businesses in both the short and long term.
At this time, the Better Middlebury Partnership recognizes that the downtown bridges over the railway are in need of fixing. We would like to see a project that addresses the immediate need for bridge replacement/repair while maintaining as minimal an impact as possible, both in duration and expanse, on the downtown and greater Middlebury community (residents, merchants, organizations, visitors, et al.).
As we continue to attend Local Project Management Team and other community group gatherings to stay updated and informed, the BMP will pass along our concerns, ideas and questions. We are open to input and questions from the businesses and community. Please be in touch with us via email at [email protected] if you would like to provide feedback.
To receive regular updates about this project from the town of Middlebury, sign up at: www.middleburybridges.org.
Lindsey Wing
President of the Better Middlebury Partnership
on behalf of the BMP board

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