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After the Waitsfield Select Board opted not to renew its option to purchase the Flemer Barns last week, the Flemer Barns Task Force will be surveying the residents of Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren asking yes/no questions of residents about how they feel about committing financially to the purchase, development and operations of a community facility at the Flemer Barns site. It also asks residents what sorts of facilities and programs they would like to see at the site.
A copy of the survey has been inserted into every copy of this week's issue of The Valley Reporter. Drop boxes (actually, large manila envelopes) for the surveys are located at many retail locations, as well as libraries and town offices.
The survey is also available online at flemerbarns.org.
In addition to the survey, the Flemer Barns Task Force is holding a public forum next Tuesday, July 23, at Waitsfield Elementary School from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The Flemer Barns Task Force was originally formed in October 2013 by the Waitsfield Select Board "to explore options and solicit public input for the use of the site and the barns to enhance the community and the historic Waitsfield Village."
Last week, the Waitsfield Select Board formally voted to not extend the option to purchase the property. The deadline for extending the purchase option is July 31, 2013, for a cost of approximately $6,378, which would extend the purchase option to July 2014.
The decision not to extend the option was due, in part, to a lack of understanding by the select board as to where the taxpayers stand on the issue of purchasing the property. For this reason, the select board asked that the task force move forward with a valley-wide survey to gauge interest in investing in the site purchase and development as a multi-town effort. Based on the results of the survey, the select board may choose to explore another purchase option for the property.
Another reason the select board did not move forward with the option is because there is strong interest in the property from Open Hearth Community Center, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2002 dedicated to supporting the youth and families of the Mad River Valley with quality multi-generational programs and recreational facilities. Open Hearth is interested in spearheading the development of a community center at the Flemer Barns location and has stated a willingness to negotiate a purchase option on their own.
Some believe that a public-private partnership of Valley towns and nonprofits working together to purchase, develop and operate the Flemer Barns property is the right way to go.
"We need to get a better idea where people stand on financial investment in the Flemer Barns property. Whether you support the Flemer Barns purchase and development or not, now is the time to make your voice heard. Community leadership, such as the town select boards, needs to know how residents of all of The Valley towns feel about committing financially to the Flemer Barns development. This includes all The Valley towns, including Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren," said Stan Ward, chair of the Flemer Barns Task Force.
A public forum will be held on Tuesday, July 23, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Waitsfield Elementary School gymnasium. Information about the Flemer Barns site and its potential development as a community resource will be presented and there will be plenty of time for questions and answers. This will be a great opportunity to answer any questions residents may have.
Also look for a short informational interview to be broadcast on MRVTV in the coming days.
To learn more about the Flemer Barns see the website: flemerbarns.org. To contact the Flemer Barns Task Force, call chair Stan Ward at (802) 595-3232 or send a message to the Flemer Barns Task Force group via the web form on flemerbarns.org.