Editorial: Party on! Making the most of it

This Wednesday night in downtown Middlebury — along with the continous noise of construction crews — stores stayed open late, people milled around to shop, eat a bag of popcorn, listen to live music and enjoy what promoters were calling a Downtown Block Party.
The idea was to demonstrate that downtown businesses were still open and eager for business and that despite ongoing construction, the downtown was still a fun place to frequent.
 The Better Middlebury Partnership hosted the event, which also provided kids with the opportunity to have their photos taken at the wheel of a big construction rig, courtesy of Kubricky Construction, the primary contractor of the four-year, $52 million project, and a free outdoor movie night at the new college park later that evening.
 It will hopefully be one of many such events to attract shoppers to the downtown as merchants prepare for a long period of construction as the two downtown bridges are converted into one continue railway tunnel spanning from Main Street to Merchants Row. When it’s all done, the town will have reclaimed some land on the town green, buried a maze of power lines behind the National Bank buidling and Printer’s Alley (improving the line of sight down into the Marble Works Business District from Main Street), created safer railway tracks through the downtown, and hopefully will have sited a new railway passenger station somewhere close to the downtown. And with a little imagination, the project could be the spark that fans a river-beautification project on the Otter Creek from the Cross Street Bridge to the Pulp Mill Bridge.
What we’ve seen over the first several weeks of this project is a construction company willing to work with the town to make life as palpatable as possible, have a little fun, and keep the conversation open to new ideas. That doesn’t mean the next four years will be pain-free, but if town residents can adopt their thinking to believing it’s “tolerable,” then we can fill the next four years with beautification projects that make the town better, while also keeping it fun.
Angelo Lynn

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