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Satori space could be perfect for Ilsley, if it weren’t for the cannabis odor

SATORI VERMONT OPERATES out of the former Connor Homes building at 1741 Route 7 south. Independent file photo/William Haig

MIDDLEBURY — Ilsley Public Library supporters are still on cloud nine following Middlebury voters’ recent, overwhelming support of a $17 million makeover of the historic library building at 75 Main St.

Things got even better earlier this week when the town and the National Bank of Middlebury signed an agreement that will allow for basic library services to be delivered in a portion of the bank’s Duclos building while the Ilsley is under reconstruction.

The proverbial cherry on top of the sundae would be the offer of a temporary storage spot somewhere in town for the bulk of the Ilsley’s book collection while the library project is underway.

As recently reported by the Independent, Satori Vermont — a cannabis company operating in the former Standard Register complex at 1741 Route 7 South — has offered up (for free) a climate-controlled, 3,000-square-foot storage spot for the majority of the Ilsley collection. Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay on Tuesday presented the selectboard with a draft “letter of intent” between Satori and the town mapping out each party’s responsibilities for the temporary storage arrangement.

But it appears increasingly likely the town will politely decline Satori’s generous offer.

The reason: Satori’s cannabis operation emits an unmistakable, pungent smell that can linger.

“It’s a beautiful space that would work in a lot of ways, but there is a significant drawback,” Ilsley Director Dana Hart told the board at its Tuesday meeting. “There’s an odor that permeates the facility and that’s something to consider when storing books, which are made of organic material.”

Library officials recently put the space to a smell test, leaving a couple of books in the proposed storage spot for “a few weeks, to see how much a smell they picked up,” according to Hart.

Officials retrieved the books and gave them a whiff.

“Some people noticed (the cannabis scent) and some people didn’t,” Hart said, adding, “I don’t know if we would end up going forward with Satori, although we are extremely grateful for their generous offer. But it’s the most promising option we have right now.”

She noted the letter of intent with Satori allows the town to withdraw from the agreement if the “town secures suitable alternate arrangements for temporary library storage space.”

Hart said she has two other leads on possible temporary storage locations for the library’s collection.

Selectboard members asked if Satori or the town could take measures to mitigate the cannabis odor.

“That’s a good question; I think we would have to look into that,” Hart said. “There are just so many unknowns, still. It’s hard to say whether it would work out or not.”

Joe McVeigh, a library trustee and member of the Ilsley 100 Project Team, said he believes the town should take a pass on the Satori offer.

“I’m appreciative to the Satori folks for coming forward with this very generous offer; in many ways it’s a perfect space. It’s dry, it’s well-lit, it’s climate controlled, it’s nearby, it’s free. But to me, the potential odor on the books is an absolute deal-killer,” he said.

“I don’t think we should spend $17 million for a brand spanking new library, and then bring into it a collection of books which smell like weed. There might be a few adult readers who would enjoy the hit, but we’re talking about kids’ books, as well,” McVeigh added.

Anyone in Middlebury with 3,000 square feet of dry, climate-controlled space should contact Hart at [email protected].

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