I write to support the City of Montpelier’s acquisition of the M&M Beverage property. This acquisition enables our City to locate in the right place a new multi-purpose path across the North Branch and a two-way vehicular access to the parking area behind the so-called Dickey Block.
Construction of the multi-purpose path and the vehicular access are part of the One Taylor Street project in which a new transit/visitor center and 40 units of market rate housing will be located on the site of the former Carr Lot junkyard. A transportation path will be extended from Taylor Street to Main, facilitating a future connection to the other portion of multi purpose path extending easterly along the Winooski River from Sarducci’s Restaurant.
The multi-purpose path between Taylor and Main links two ends of what has functioned until now as a more linear downtown. People will be able to walk directly from the Statehouse to businesses on Main Street near Barre crossing the North Branch near Shaw’s safely without illegally crossing on the railroad bridge. A new two-way access for cars to the parking area behind the Dickey Block facilitates the use of that parking area and allows its future expansion.
The new transportation path and two-way car access can be located without acquiring the M&M Beverage property, but doing so is shortsighted. In general, streets and major driveways should be lined up to face each other across main roads. Barre Street cannot be lined up across Main Street to the new transportation infrastructure unless such infrastructure is located on the M&M property. The continued location of access to the M&M building in its current location will also interfere with the new four-way intersection.
If the City locates the new intersection on the M&M property, land next to the Drawing Board will be available for construction of a new building. The new building could complement the look of our historic downtown rather than detracting from it.
Finally, the City’s acquisition of the M&M site resolves a potential problem for combined commercial use at that site. VTrans can prevent cars from accessing most of M&M’s parking as they do now across the railroad right-of-way.
The One Taylor Street project grants totaling more than $7 million represent an enormous gift to our City. We should use them to best advantage without seeking to preserve the M&M building in the wrong place in our downtown.