After more than 60 years in their old town offices, Middlebury officials opened their new building on Monday.
Town manager Kathleen Ramsay says it’s the first net zero municipal building in Vermont. “Some of the electricity use is offset by a solar array,” she added.
The new brick two-story building has big windows which let in natural light. It sits across a traffic circle from the former town high school, which became the municipal building and town gym after a fire in 1950s. The aging structure was costly to heat and had outlived its usefulness.
“There were difficulties with the heat system, the structure of the building and the general condition of the building,” Ramsay said.
The $7 million replacement includes the new town office building and a new recreation center, but first there were some complicated land swaps with Middlebury College, which contributed $5.5 million toward the cost of the two buildings.
The college moved the historic Osborne House across Otter Creek to a town-owned parcel. Middlebury College exchanged the land where the new town office sits for the old town office parcel, and plans to build a park when demolition of the building is complete. The design process for that site is now underway.
The town’s new recreation center, built outside of downtown, opened in March.
The project was approved by voters in 2014, but it was not without controversy. Opponents of the plan also placed a measure on the ballot that would have called on the select board to rehabilitate the municipal building, but that measure failed.
“It’s been a tremendous project, so much community support, so many people chipping in to make this a reality,” Ramsay said. The town offices were closed last week for the move.
April 6, 9:45 a.m.: This story was revised to include Middlebury College's financial contribution to the project.