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  • 30 Jul 2015

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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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‘Opportunities lost’

To The Editor:


At the Monday, June 10, Waitsfield Select Board meeting and prior to a Maclay office proposal, the chair made a sudden motion to warn for a bond vote for new town offices on the Farm Stand site. Within 10 minutes the motion had passed and without mention two important opportunities had been lost.


The first opportunity was the public opinion survey launched by the board a month ago. The goal of the survey was to provide reliable information on alternative sites and obtain a townwide response to what people really wanted – prior to a select board decision. The survey committee worked diligently and the survey forms were close to mailing.


The second opportunity, as you might expect, was the Methodist Church and the chance to bring it back into public service within the village center. New offices for the town and the rehabilitation of a major historic building is a win-win situation.


The church opportunity has become more realistic in the past three weeks with architect Ellen Strauss working with me and the Maclay office and offering her concepts for good historic preservation practice. Preserving as much as possible of a building’s original fabric saves both expense and historic significance. “Recycling” a whole building is about as green as you can get. The church cost estimates are now down to the same level as the Farm Stand project.


Finally, the opinion survey would have been able to offer a choice between the two major alternatives, at the same price. The public would be able to choose in accordance to location, image, function, long-term value and other factors, rather than money. The church has never been given a fair chance at a townwide vote. The survey would have offered that opportunity.


The federal funding representative gave the board long, cautionary responses to the many questions. So I can understand their getting nervous. Money talks, but I think the big picture is being short-changed.


Bob Burley






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