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By Craig Keown
On Election Day, the voters of Waitsfield will revisit the issue of a town water system for the third time. Like the original vote at last Town Meeting, we have the opportunity on our national election day to have a large number of town voters participate in deciding once and for all whether this important, contentious and very expensive piece of town infrastructure will go ahead. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:
• When the proposal was originally voted down, those who voted against were portrayed as being uneducated on the issue and in need of more information. After more meetings, a rewriting of the proposal and a media blitz presumably paid for by all of us, the measure failed yet again with some embarrassing voting irregularities. The question is, are we going to be subject to democracy by attrition? Will a third vote to go ahead really reflect the democratic will of the people or will we all have been worn out by the dubious process?
• For many reasons, there are those of us who are very skeptical of the estimate of the true cost of construction of the project. We all know that prices go up, things change and new problems are encountered when confronted with a project of this scope. The select board can't guarantee otherwise. How old is the estimate?
• This is a huge project that will need constant maintenance, insurance and oversight. Do we have a realistic down-the-road effect that this will have on the town taxpayers, including those who don't directly benefit? The answer is no.
• It is obvious that many of those who voted against the proposal did so because they did not want to be associated with the perception that the water is being taken from a taxpayer without her consent. This is an unsettled issue that needs to be resolved. If the project were to go ahead, what is there to stop that taxpayer from tying the town up in legal loopholes and expense for the next who knows how long? This needs to be resolved first; the town needs to cease being so litigious and our decrepit roads need fixing now.
• Since the conception of this project, taxes have gone up, the economy has plunged and the burden has become onerous. This is not the time to take on a further burden of this massive scale.
There are many more points, questions and reasons why this project is poorly conceived and repeatedly rejected by the voters. It's time to reject it one last time for the good of us all.
Craig Keown lives in Waitsfield.
Editor's Note: The project, as proposed, will use water from a well located on town property. It does not take water from any individual. It does require an access easement from two Waitsfield property owners.