During the past decade, Middlebury College has engaged with the local community on a number of landmark initiatives:
The College and the town renegotiate a “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) agreement in which the College will make an annual contribution to the town, the sum of which is tied to the performance of Middlebury’s endowment. (In 2013, this payment was $251,617.) Middlebury annually pays around $690,000 in taxes on property being used for purposes not directly tied to the mission of educating students.
The College pledges $1 million to complete the renovation of the Town Hall Theater (THT), an ambitious community effort to renovate and restore a 19th-century building—which once housed the town hall and later an opera house—in the heart of Middlebury. The $1 million pledge, on top of an earlier $250,000 gift, capped off the $5 million project. With this partnership, Middlebury students are afforded the opportunity to work with community members on theater productions, while THT also commits to working College productions—including summer Language School performances and a winter term production—into its seasonal lineup.
The College pledges $9 million to help fund the construction of a new in-town bridge, which will provide a second major crossing of Otter Creek. Designed to ease traffic congestion and provide an additional route for emergency vehicles, the new bridge carries a cost of $16 million; with the College’s contribution, the project is fast-tracked, ending more than 50 years of stalled efforts to construct a second in-town crossing. The bridge opened in 2010.
The town and the College reach an agreement to jointly fund the construction of a new town hall and town recreation facility, with the College contributing $5.5 million toward the $7.5 million project. In addition to the new construction, the College and the town agree to swap land parcels. The new town office will be built adjacent to the Ilsley Library on land once owned by the College. The College will acquire town land at the intersection of Main and College Streets, turning this area into a triangular public park and green space. The town of Middlebury voted to approve this proposal in 2014.
The College and town finalize a project in which the College acquires and conveys to the town an empty building on Main Street, which will be razed and turned into pedestrian access to the town’s Marble Works commercial district.
The College conveys to the town more than an acre of riverfront property behind the Ilsley Library, which the town will join with its own land holdings to develop future retail, commercial, and residential projects.
The College renegotiates its PILOT with Ripton, agreeing to a 10-year deal to pay the municipality $157,000 annually in recognition of the nontaxable property the institution owns there. In addition, Ripton schoolchildren are to be provided free ski lessons at the Snow Bowl and Rikert Nordic Center.