With the successful vote in Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston and Moretown to allocate $31,250 per town toward the purchase of the recreation fields at Mad River Park in Waitsfield, another important victory for the success of the fields purchase is secured.
The kids are the real winners here. But the rest of us win, too. We will be able to secure one vital piece of the infrastructure we need to provide kids with viable athletic and recreational opportunities. Athletics and recreation – we know – are important in raising healthy kids and setting them up for success as they mature.
Securing that piece of infrastructure also makes our community much more attractive to families with kids, which is exactly the demographic we need to attract to diversify and revitalize the population in our Valley.
The Mad River Valley Recreation District deserves credit for working tirelessly to make sure voters in local towns understood the financial structure of the deal, which includes $225,000 in grant funding, $210,000 in donations ($149,000 already committed) and now $125,000 in municipal funding. At $550,000 the fields are a good deal.
Another group has been working just as tirelessly on a much less sexy project – getting the Harwood Unified Union School District budget created and passed in all six-member towns. The budget did pass and this week’s Town Meeting marked the first time that individual schools did not discuss their budgets and annual reports one on one with town voters.
One Waitsfield voter found it sad that this was going to be the last time she attended her Waitsfield-specific annual school meeting. And in a way it is sad for all of our towns to lose that bit of individuality. Our schools are unique and amazing and we remain hopeful that merging all seven of the schools in our six towns will not homogenize us completely.
We all went into the Act 46 vote to merge our school boards early with our eyes wide open about what merging means and with a great deal of hope that we won’t lose our individual school’s characters and identities. We remain hopeful, because the kids also win in that scenario.