It’s disingenuous and wrong for the Waitsfield Select Board to attempt to thwart the will of the voters, as expressed at Town Meeting in March on the issue of burying a conduit (and ultimately the power lines) on Bridge Street.
At Town Meeting this year, the issue of putting the power conduit underground while Bridge Street and the covered bridge were undergoing a significant repair project was the subject of passionate and extensive discussion. The voice vote from the floor was in favor of the project. After the voice vote, a request was made for a vote by a show of hands. The pro-burying vote was 116; the vote against burying the conduit was 45.
To suggest that the town could disregard the directive from the voters because of other town expenses is not fair to the people who went to Town Meeting – where these special articles are voted on by those present.
It is disrespectful to the people who went to Town Meeting and participated in the discussion and the vote to attempt to revise history from the perspective of expenses the town has not yet incurred.
Voters authorized spending up to $50,000 to put the conduit underground during this season’s construction project. That number was padded up by some $15,000 to avoid running out of money.
At Town Meeting voters also approved $50,000 for repairs to the covered bridge, $250,000 for repairs to the riverbank and stormwater drains and repaving Bridge Street, and $200,000 for a culvert project at the top of Tremblay Road.
And because the make-up of the select board changed by two members is no reason for board members who objected to the underground conduit project at Town Meeting to attempt to get a do-over with the new board members. That’s also not right nor fair. The make-up of the board was as it was on Town Meeting Day until the votes were counted when the polls closed that night.
If there are legitimate concerns about whether cost information was accurate, then that information can be found. Even then, it’s hard to fathom why, even if the power lines were not pulled through the conduit for 15 to 20 years from now, it would not make sense to seize the opportunity when the street is being completely dug up and reconstructed. Surely that’s what forward-thinking planning and leadership are about.