Middlebury plants seeds for downtown block party

MIDDLEBURY — In addition to supporting a local tax holiday during the peak of construction during the downtown rail bridge replacement (click here to read that story), the Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday also backed a plan aimed at giving a bump to local merchants by bring more green downtown.
The panel OK’d a second annual “block party” on Wednesday, Aug. 15, that will close off a portion of Main Street for a series of family-friendly activities and extended shopping hours from 5 to 8 p.m.
The event will follow the same pattern as last year’s downtown block party, but with a major new twist: Sod will be laid on the closed portion of Main Street to create a temporary green space as a way of promoting outdoor play for children and families.
Organizers are calling it the “Green Street Challenge,” part of a North American program called “Come Alive Outside.” Rutland has participated in the Green Street Challenge; it’s already garnered a substantial following among Canadian cities. Its main mission is to get people to live healthier lives outdoors. Ten Canadian cities and three U.S. communities hosted the Green Street Challenge last year.
Karen Duguay, a member of the Neighbors Together community group, and Come Alive Outside Coordinator Andy Paluch said a landscaper has agreed to provide the sod for free. The town will look for volunteers to help put down the sod and pick it up. Public works officials have offered a street sweeper to clean up the area after the event. Duguay estimated Main Street would be closed from 2 to 10 p.m. for the Aug. 15 block party, which includes set up and clean up time.
The block party will encompass Main Street from its intersection with Merchants Row, to just north of Bakery Lane.
The Independent will report more details on the block party and the Green Street Challenge as the event draws closer.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]

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