In 1965 Middleburg’s current Town Office opened its doors to serve the public. At that time, the Town employed six people full-time and one person part-time, and the population was roughly the same as it is today. The Town budget for that year was $678,000. In 2021 we find ourselves in a very different position. The Town employs 15 people full-time and three part-time with an annual budget of over $5M. Today Middleburg is poised to build a new Town Hall after 56 years. For me, at least, it’s an opportunity to build more than an office building; it’s an opportunity to build a community gathering place. Take a moment and imagine running into a friend or neighbor in a park in Middleburg. I love that idea, and I look forward to that reality. I welcome the day when we can host concerts and farmers’ markets on the town green. To think of community members gathering in a park and enjoying Middleburg in this way has me particularly jazzed. Surely that excitement is colored by our current pandemic circumstances, but that’s not the only reason I’m excited. We should all be excited about Middleburg’s new Town Hall project. This undertaking isn’t about space needs studies and what wall is placed where or whose office is which. In fact this project isn’t about walls at all (ok maybe it’s a little bit about walls). My point is this project is about our community. The Town Hall is about a lot more than office space. It’s about who we are and what we value. From one perspective, it’s about uniting your office staff with your Police in one centralized and easily accessible location. I posit, the objective of this project can only be understood in its aggregate. The sum is greater than the parts. The whole enterprise is aimed at serving you better now and in the future. It’s a project that will reflect the values of the community it serves. Each time the Council appropriates public funds, those funds should give back to the community. The truth is opportunities to give back at scale are rare. But this project is such an opportunity. I believe it is a chance to add value to Middleburg for generations to come. In talking through my thoughts on this topic, Jessica, my lovely patient wife, likes to remind me that I loath uni-taskers in the kitchen (gizmos that do only one thing and take up space most of the time) with the exception of a fire extinguisher. This is not a uni-tasker project. This is a Swiss army knife project. Seven years ago when the need for a new building was determined none of the supplementary features were written into any brief or plan on what this project would look like. The added benefits came from you during the Town’s public outreach sessions for the rewrite of the comprehensive plan. Your desires were heard loud and clear. The top three items requested were green space, attainable housing and public parking. It’s encouraging to confirm two of these items are included in this project. Town will gain not one green space, but two. We will have a large ‘Town Green’ to the North of the building. The space will be suitable for concerts, farmers’ markets, picnics, and the like. Beyond that space, the current Town Office building site will be converted into an ‘urban’ pocket park. The project will also add over 20 additional public parking spots accessible from Marshall Street. And that’s just on the outside. Inside the building, efficiently designed workspaces will allow for greater collaboration among staff and departments. This is especially true when considering we are finally combining Administration with Policing. Our public safety officers will be in our Town Hall, not in a rental space in the back of an office complex – the Police will be visible, accessible, and centrally located. The Council Chambers will adequately accommodate more visitors for all public meetings and events like voting.
Additionally, the building was designed to include conference meeting spaces that will be made available to the public. Middleburg’s small businesses and non-profits organizations will be able to use these spaces rather than seek out locations outside Town. All these enhancements add value to Middleburg. I believe at a scale rarely seen for a town our size. It’s essential to understand the full scope of this project and the impact of this comprehensive investment. We’re uniquely positioned to make this come to fruition after years of sound fiscal policy, dedicated conviction, and good old elbow grease by all. It’s important to remember that the entire community, citizens and businesses alike, contributed to the Town’s ability to take on this endeavor. That alone should bring pause and pride.
I look forward to seeing you in the park.