It’s exciting to see the momentum and enthusiasm around bringing municipal wastewater to Waitsfield and Irasville.
There’s an incredible amount of volunteer work being undertaken by planning commission and select board volunteers as well as other community members, town staff and the planning district.
This time, it feels like we’re really going to see this critical piece of infrastructure happen. Incredible work is being done as everyone works double time to get the preliminary engineering report translated into actual costs and then a bond vote at Town Meeting that could lead to construction in 2025 and a wastewater system coming on line in 2026.
This project is made possible by the amazing federal infusion of pandemic relief funds and the hard work of local planners and those who served on the town’s water and wastewater study group. It’s also made possible by years of Town Plan work identifying the need for critical infrastructure to support appropriate growth.
And now that that work has done and the project has its own legs, there seems to be some reservations about letting the next group of workers take it further, or at least the next phase. At a planning commission meeting this week there were discussions about whether it is appropriate to be planning for future expansions of an as of yet unbuilt municipal wastewater system.
This is against the backdrop of the (new) wastewater working group working to understand future needs as part of the immediate project. This got push back from some who did not want to see a system have more capacity than they think it should have.
Determining wastewater capacity and need, and determining where growth and development occurs is absolutely a function of planning commissioners, but not exclusively and not alone. When people suggest looking at expanding the wastewater service area, sure, they have agendas, but that doesn’t make their contribution wrong or invalid. Their vision counts too.
No one gets to be the arbiter elegantarium of how and where Waitsfield should develop and under what terms. We all share that responsibility. We can continue reaching out to town staff, planners to express ideas and share concerns. We can attend meetings and articulate our vision for Waitsfield. Everyone’s input is valid.
There are real, valid reasons for working on the proposed system within proposed parameters of service area and capacity, but let’s never cut off future visioning work.