Middlebury eyes benefits from food co-op expansion

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op’s (MNFC) current expansion project could net some state funds to improve a nearby crosswalk and create a covered area for co-op shoppers to park their bikes, Middlebury Town Planner Jennifer Murray told the selectboard at a June 27 meeting.
The help would come through the Vermont Sales Tax Reallocation Program, which allows all of the sales tax generated on construction materials over $200,000 for a project occurring within a designated downtown to be reallocated to the community to build a municipal project that would benefit both the town and the co-applicant. Those improvements can be located either on public property or in the immediate vicinity of the qualifying project.
The MNFC expansion project has the potential to allow the town to recoup up to $48,000 for projects that would help the town and the co-op. Town and MNFC officials have mapped out two projects:
•  A pergola-type detached structure that would extend into the first two parking spaces at the existing co-op entrance, which would serve as covered bike parking and an events space.
•  Improvement of the existing crosswalk that ends in the MNCF patio area, including painting or “stamp treatment” of the crosswalk itself, and the addition of landscaping and benches within the public right of way on the south side of Washington Street across from the co-op.
Murray stressed the Vermont Sales Tax Reallocation Program is competitive, but officials are crossing their fingers that the application — filed by the June 30 deadline — will get picked.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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