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Not the best solution for the community

07/19/2007

By Claudia Becker

I am responding to the article about the town pond drainage issue. I was surprised by the tone and inaccuracy of some of the comments made at the select board meeting.

The issue of drainage and stormwater runoff goes way beyond what was addressed in that meeting. Water drains into the pond from Mad River Green, Shaw's parking lot and the other Winter Park businesses. From the wetlands program perspective, the pond is man-made, and is functionally treating stormwater.

Whether that is the best way to deal with runoff is another question. Before I purchased the theater one and a half years ago (not two and a half as claimed by the select board) there were several catch basins in the parking lot that directed runoff into the pond -- unfiltered.

In the effort to address the issue on a broader level, Big Picture submitted two proposals
that not only re-created the original appearance of the town's portion of the land but also provided a more progressive approach to the issues of runoff in general.

The Big Picture has committed itself completely to serving this community and is doing so in the most conscientious ways possible. The Big Picture has no gain in pursuing either of the proposed solutions: just filling in some dirt is the cheapest and easiest solution for us.

But this seemed to be an opportunity to address the actual problem of runoff from impervious surfaces by developing innovative ways of filtering these waters. As long as parking lots are present there will be polluted runoff. The best solution to this problem would be to bioswale within the parking lots themselves via depressions planted with contaminant-absorbing plants such as bulrushes, cattails and various sedges. This would have the double effect of beatifying these large parking lots, keeping it cooler, adding wildlife habitat and many other services as well enhancing the storm runoff.

This could have been an opportunity to talk and think about new approaches to a longstanding problem. The Big Picture will comply with the select board's decision but is not in agreement that this solution is in the best interest of the community and the environment.


Becker of Waitsfield is the owner of the Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield.
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