At the last two meetings of the Waitsfield Select Board there has been discussion about what portion the town will pay for the Winter Park decentralized wastewater system.

That system, in the works for almost two years, is required to fix a failed system that serves the Big Picture Theater, Allen Lumber, Valley Rent-All and Wood and Wood Signs and Designs.

It is funded via a revolving loan fund that Waitsfield was able to create which converted almost a million dollars of potential federal debt into funds accessible to fix wastewater issues. The federal funds stemmed from a late 1990s attempt to create one large municipal wastewater system for the town. The money had to be allocated for projects that addressed wastewater, stormwater and water quality issues or the full amount would become debt for the town.

The Winter Park system was to have been funded by users. When it was announced two weeks ago that Lawson’s Finest was planning to purchase property joined to that system, the town received the information that a pre-filtration system will be required to handle the effluent from a brewery.

That meant that the town’s portion of the costs went to $43,000 – a sum the select board discussed at its May 2 and May 9 meetings. The town made the decision to support the businesses by shouldering that sum – which adds $2,000 to the amount of money the town needs to pay back to the feds over 20 years.

Members of the public questioned the town spending taxpayer money for this project which is an absolutely fair question. The select board members’ responses to the question were also absolutely fair and spot on.

Waitsfield enjoys the unearned reputation as being unfriendly to business – as does Vermont in general. In this instance, the select board took the longer view of what it means for Waitsfield and The Valley to have a thriving brewery to go with our movie theater and restaurant (and lumberyard and sign shop) and took the necessary step to make sure it becomes a reality. Thriving businesses create jobs and thriving business owners and thriving towns.

This is not money ill-spent. It is a solid investment in the commercial viability of the town.