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To The Editor:
I grew up in Waitsfield and have family members who still live here. So, while I am not a resident of the community and, therefore, have no financial stake in the issue of the town's new offices, I have been interested in the debate. It seems clear to me that the town officials have, from the beginning, rigged the process against the old Methodist Church option. According to a resolution adopted by the Waitsfield Town Office Task Force on January 17, 2013, a December 20, 2012, survey showed "a strong preference" for the church site. Despite this, and the task force's acknowledgement that the "ultimate decision" about which option would be chosen would be left up to the voters, they encouraged the select board not to give the voters a choice—and voted in favor of the Farm Stand site.
Funding proposals were presented to voters a number of times. At no time were they given the option of choosing one site over the other. Voters still won't get this opportunity during the vote on October 22. Prior to the last vote, voters were informed that a $750,000 Community Block Grant award would be at risk if the bond vote failed. Coincidence? I don't think so. When notice of the public hearing on the intended grant application was provided by the town in January 2013, it conveniently made no mention of the church site. That was the major reason the state refused to consider the church site as part of the grant application. The church site was also not considered because the town's application, according to the state, was insufficiently developed in comparison to the Farm Stand site. The town was made aware of these deficiencies, but no attempt was made to correct them.
This is just another example of public servants manipulating the system from behind the scenes to get the result they desire. Voters never got a choice. And now, with the announcement of an "anonymous gift" to support the Farm Stand proposal likely tipping the scales more in its favor, they arguably never will.