The Waitsfield Select Board has named five people to the town’s newly created General Wait House Committee, charged with taking a look at the historic, town-owned property and investigating restoration and repair of the property as well as an expansion of current uses.
With the help of grants and fundraising, the town was able to purchase and renovate the home of Waitsfield founder General Benjamin Wait, opening it as a visitor’s center and offices in 1997. The property had been in need of repairs and restoration for at least a decade or maybe more when the town commissioned a study committee to explore what the best course of action was for the town.
That study results in a 2021 report that outlined three courses of action, 1. Restore and repair the structures; 2. Restore repair and look at new uses of the property and 3. Explore other ownership or management structures.
The select board and study committed discussed option two as the best course of action, but did not formally make that a motion until this week’s board meeting on November 13. Subsequent to that motion, the board turned to naming members of the town committee that will take up the work of option two.
The board received letters of interest from all of those who were named by the board. This week, the board named AnnMarie Harmon, Gib Geiger, Lois DeHeer, Marty DeHeer and Kathy Mehuron to the committee. Additionally, there will be a seat on the committee for a representative of the tenants of the General Wait House who have been meeting regularly to discuss tenant issues and needs.
“Honestly, I feel that the building has been sorely underutilized and it could be an amazing resource for the town. I have no interest in preserving the barns to be a museum to demonstrate “early homestead life” but to preserve the barns to demonstrate sensitive adaptive reuse. Of course, I would work together as a team player with the commission to achieve our joint goals as I have worked with the planning commission,” wrote Harmon in her letter of interest.
Gib Geiger wrote to the board, noting that he originally attended a select board meeting recently to offer up his services to repair things at the Wait House free of charge.
“I wasn’t planning on getting involved with another board of sorts. However, once I heard the goals of the future of the Wait House, I am interested, especially if you and Brian Shupe are on board,” he wrote, referencing requests for volunteers from board member Fred Messer.
“I am writing to let you know that I am interested in serving on your newly-formed Wait House Committee which I understand will work to repair and maintain the historic building. Built by our town’s founder, General Benjamin Wait in 1793, the structure is our
base line for our settlement’s history. Two years ago I retired from the classroom teaching of math and science and became a full-time writer. It was then I evaluated where I was most interested in serving my community with my varied skills and more flexible schedule. History—a subject that I was never good at before—suddenly fascinated me,” wrote Kathy Mehuron in her letter of interest to Messer.