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College to donate downtown parcel to town

Middlebury College will donate a piece of downtown real estate to the Town of Middlebury.

Middlebury College will donate a piece of downtown real estate to the Town of Middlebury. Eagle news graphic by J. Kirk Edwards

— Middlebury College will donate a piece of downtown real estate to the Town of Middlebury in a bid to fulfill its campus plans which include securing the triangle upon which the current municipal office building stands.

The college has expressed its preference that a new town hall be built on the Osborne House property located at 77 Main St. next to the downtown traffic roundabout.

The 1.4-acre plot, which is located near the Ilsley Public Library, will be given to the town, according to Middlebury Select Board Chairman Dean George this week. George also noted that the parcel fronts a section of Otter Creek.

According to a report prepared by Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay, George read a statement at the March 25 Select Board meeting which was prepared by Middlebury College announcing that the College Board of Trustees had approved a recommendation by President Liebowitz to donate the land it owns behind Ilsley Public Library, known as the Economic Development Initiative property, to the town to facilitate broad public engagement in determining its future use.

The Board has been blamed by some critics for brokering a deal with the college without seeking much public input leading up to the Town Meeting vote. The plan was narrowly approved in early March.

Howard “Skip” Brush, a member of the Middlebury Development Review Board, is circulating a citizen’s petition to bring the town hall and gymnasium plans to a revote sometime in the spring.

Brush’s plan includes purchasing the former Lightning Photo buildings at 105 and 111 Court St. (Route 7), building a small addition there for the senior center, and constructing a gym at the Sports Centers.

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