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To The Editor:
For the past 20 years, our family has spent the week of Christmas/New Year's in Waitsfield enjoying the many beautiful sites and "Vermont only" activities we do while there. It usually begins in August that our grandchildren start asking and dreaming of their winter vacation. However, there have been some changes during the past few years that have caused us some concern and disappointment, with this year being quite disturbing. Let me begin.
Upon arrival in Waitsfield, our 15-year-old grandson saw that his and our favorite family restaurant, The Den, was closed and for sale. Where would we go to have their great food and ambience of energy -- what happened? We then proceeded to the Skatium to check the hours of opening as that same grandson has skated there with local kids playing ice hockey with them. To our great surprise it too was closed with no signage as to why. What happened?
Just last year there was an article in this paper about some renovations that were being made, and the previous year we supported a raffle the Skatium held to raise funds for such needed work. We had bought two books of raffle tickets and very luckily, same grandson won a two free dinners coupon at The Common Man! Well, when we called to make a reservation, the recording said it was "closed for the winter." What do they mean, "closed for the winter" -- isn't that your busy season? What happened?
So, not to be deterred, our son-in-law promised to take the two grandsons to Burlington Mall for the day and ride the bumper cars there. You guessed it, the business isn't there any longer (and it seemed so popular and busy in the past). What happened? We're so happy it snowed! What happened there, too?! (We did luck out on that one, though.)
I have been a subscriber to this paper for several years now and have read about the concerns of many business owners and their shrinking sales, etc. Well, I can tell you that unless some serious consideration of what the visitors/tourists want is given and implemented, I'm afraid we and others will winter vacation elsewhere. As our younger grandson so eloquently said even before leaving home for Vermont, "I like going to Vermont (Waitsfield) but, it's too darn relaxing." There once were more choices and liveliness in The Valley than we have now. What happened?
Regarding the Skatium, I know there's a rink in Waterbury and our grandson has skated there, but we felt good supporting a local business and truly liked the outside atmosphere of the Skatium over an inside rink. With all the money that has been put into Sugarbush, couldn't some have been donated to the Skatium as a goodwill gesture for the townspeople? Couldn't the owners of Sugarbush even purchase and run such a small somewhat related activity for locals and tourists? Please consider this a serious request.
Why wasn't any news about the Skatium's recent troubles in the paper? Did I miss it? Can anything be done to save it?
As we stay in the village rather than the mountain, we would support the wishes that many townspeople have expressed regarding the establishment of places for the young: an indoor recreation center with pool, basketball court, rock climbing wall, etc. with daily, weekly rates for out-of-towners. The return of a renovated Skatium with info on how we can contribute money, time, etc. even while on vacation. We are invested in many ways in Waitsfield and we want to continue vacationing there and bring family and friends with us without them asking, "What happened?"
Christine Danser and family
New Jersey and Waitsfield