Letter to the editor: Rail bridges project could be turning point for town

Necessity is the mother of invention. Downtown Middlebury has been weak in the knees for some time now and the bridge project stands to serve the coup de grace. The bridge project will be remembered as the dark age and if Middlebury pulls itself together the dark age will be followed by a renaissance.
Middlebury is the Shire town of Addison County and home to educational and economic powerhouse Middlebury College. The guaranteed positive economic impact of the college has produced, in the past, a laissez faire attitude not shared by the once scruffy but scrappy neighboring towns. Middlebury long ago entered the doldrums, where an attitude of what was once good enough was deemed good enough. That attitude no longer is good enough and empty storefront windows popping up like dandelions in the spring is proof.
The bridge project provides the perfect stage for Middlebury to whiff the smelling salts, brush off the dust and get to work in earnest. There has been massive cogitation and brainstorming in days past and now is the perfect time to put thoughts into action. The amazing transformation of our own Town Hall Theater serves as perhaps the striking and clear example of ideas materializing to concrete reality. That same ethos could be used to address in earnest the parking issues downtown, complete the restoration of the riverfront, and spruce up the downtown among other much needed improvements. The forced economic idle of the bridge project is the perfect excuse and opportunity.
In my lifetime several neighboring towns in Addison County faced similar adversity and took on the challenge head on with striking success. Middlebury would be well served to look within for solutions. If it does so it can expect the same success as demonstrated in our travels around the county.
Anders Holm

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