I don’t know what comes next for Montpelier, Central Vermont, or the world. In Montpelier we have always reached high, but it seems to me, in these times, this overreaching is detrimental. I sing the age-worn song of “take care of our infrastructure.” In my view Montpelier has gotten far behind on the ABCs of municipal management and, unfortunately, during COVID-19 times, catching up financially is not realistically possible. Montpelier was my home and community for nearly 50 years. I recently moved to Adamant in the Town of Calais where we have delicious “free” well water, well-graded roads, no piles of messy salt melting materials in the winter, no exorbitant water/sewer bills, and more reasonable taxes, to name a few of the benefits. We do have mud season and black flies, but those are naturally occurring.
I miss my city life, my community down there and, most of all, being involved in trying to make Montpelier a better place. What I don’t miss is the politics and what I view as the inability to get basic things done that would improve the foundation of our downtown. For instance, good sewers, good stormwater runoff, well-paved roads, emptied garbage cans, a solution for the homeless, removal or monitoring of parklets that have become second homes and dumps. City residents do a lot to help others, but the hot lunches and dry beds are not the answer to the universal problem. Montpelier has become unaffordable to the low-income and middle class and start-up families. In times of COVID-19 this will not change or diminish as property values and taxes and water and sewer charges continue to rise.
I’m not sure what it is I want to say except that we are blessed to be here and not elsewhere in our nation or the world at this time. So I wonder if we cannot take this time to focus again on what is the right agenda for Montpelier and its future. I don’t believe it includes fancy stores, a big municipal garage, more parks, more restaurants. I believe we need to support what is here, the existing restaurants and retail shops, cleaning up the city’s environment and making Montpelier more livable, including a better solution to our terrible streets and sewers, our parking needs, and our homeless.
As I think about my community service to Montpelier over the years, I am struck by how many of the same issues have come back time and time again to go round robin in City Council and committee circuits, and then never get fully resolved. We have elected leaders but we don’t have the power of the majority. By that I mean, we need more of our voters and residents to take stands at elections and to volunteer for municipal needs. It can be as simple as picking up that piece of trash laying on the sidewalk as you walk by, or as big as running for Mayor or City Council. I never did the latter for various personal reasons, but there are many of you out there who can make a real “brass tacks” difference. Consider getting involved if you aren’t already.