Letter to the editor: Diner makeover called ‘soulless’

The evisceration of the Park Diner by its conversion from the heart of working-class Middlebury to a tableau beside which the town’s elite can sip wine and eat from a prohibitively expensive out-of-town French restaurant ‘food truck’ while taking selfies against a colorful painted backdrop is a classist and insulting blow to our community.
Murals and artwork are of course time-honored traditions, but totally obscuring this building — a contributing structure to Middlebury’s downtown historic district — in swaths of sorbet color is more akin to another time-honored tradition, that of one tyrant smashing the noses off the faces of statues of the prior ruler to obliterate history.
Town Hall Theater’s A-list of trustees and directors clearly did not want anyone to continue to think of the Park Diner as the place where for over 80 years we all went in the morning to connect with local tradesmen and landscapers, held our non-profit, church board and high school team meetings, and drank a reasonably-priced cup of coffee.
Saving the decayed Town Hall building and converting it to a community performing arts space was a good idea — but its success has now passed the stage of blossom, and developed into a spreading rot of overblown gentrification, buoyed by high-priced opera tickets. Instead of supporting an authentic, functioning downtown (by, for example, leasing the diner to a nonprofit or school to operate during the day, then using it for events like dinner-with-the-director at night), Town Hall Theater has advanced Middlebury’s race to become a soulless tourist attraction. Perhaps they can engage Mr. Trump to build a hotel casino to complete their ensemble.
Cindy Hill

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