Home Commentary Opinion Letters 5.15.14

Letters 5.15.14


An Invitation from Bill Kelly

To the Editor:
“I lost my youngest brother, Jerry, at age 30 to suicide 23 years ago. He had struggled valiantly with varying degrees of success, for six years after his first episode of bipolar mania and hospitalization. Despite our awareness of his challenges, his death shocked all who knew him. He was a good man, kind, generous, wise for his years, and a gifted artist with a compassionate heart. He chose to leave us behind, not out of anger, hatred or selfishness, but from a deep-seated agony that only he could imagine.”
The death of Bill Kelly’s brother, Jerry, has inspired Bill Kelly and others to organized a “Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group.” That Support Group is reaching out to anyone who has lost someone to suicide and encouraging that person or persons to participate with other survivors in sharing their experience with others who have experienced a similar loss.
Meetings of the Central Vermont Survivors of Suicide Loss Group take place on the third Tuesday of each month. The meeting in May is Thursday evening, May 20 at 6:00 p.m. in the downstairs conference room at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin. For further information, please phone Bill Kelly at 223-0924.

Berlin Pond

To the Editor:
It’s appalling that in the 21st century we still have to struggle to protect our water quality, but that is happening right now, right here. Two years ago a court case opened Berlin Pond, Montpelier’s only water supply source, to human recreation, ending 100 years of protection. The governor and the secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) want to keep it open, bowing to the demands for access by boaters and fishermen.
This raises huge questions: What research has ANR done to establish that human recreation will not impact the quality of Montpelier’s drinking water? What resources will they provide for such research? What is their plan for follow-up monitoring of the water quality? Will ANR provide funding for the costly upgrades of our water treatment plant that will be required if our water supply is contaminated by petrochemicals, human pathogens or excessive turbidity? These questions must be answered, and research from other water districts which have prohibited all recreation on their water sources must be addressed, before human recreation on Berlin Pond can continue. That’s the only responsible path ANR can take.
Clean water is the most critical requirement for life. Recreation is allowed on many other water bodies besides Berlin Pond. The human requirement for clean water trumps the right of people for recreation in that one specific place.
The group Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond has petitioned ANR to prohibit human use on the pond again. ANR is holding a public hearing on this petition May 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Berlin Elementary School. Please attend the hearing and lend your voice to those who are advocating for keeping Montpelier’s water as pure as possible. Write or call ANR and insist that they keep Montpelier’s water source clean. Public comment will be accepted until June 3.
Page Guertin, Montpelier

Trains at Carr Lot

To the Editor:
The long-awaited Carr Lot development in Montpelier centered on a transit center needs to be a platform ready to accommodate substantial commuter and intercity rail passengers.
While studies for commuter and intercity rail date from 1989, the decade-long Link commuter buses, now numbering 18 each workday between Burlington and Montpelier, give proof for an estimated 700-plus individual commuters making roundtrips using the Montpelier transit center each day. The estimated Montpelier rail boardings of 268 passengers each morning headed to one of nine stations from Waterbury, to Burlington, to Charlotte compares to about 90 boarding Links from Montpelier each workday. Even more passenger numbers come along when a natural extension of commuter rail to Berlin and Barre stations gets added into the mix.
With upgrades to 80 mph speeds from Montpelier Junction to Essex Junction already in place, and the arrival of Amtrak service from the Ethan Allen to Union Station in Burlington, within three years commuter and intercity services will really be near a tipping point. Car travel in Vermont and nationally is down among all age groups, driver licensing proportions are down 10 percent in the under-30 crowd, and Vermont and national public transit, bicycling and walking have grown rapidly. My presentation next month to the Canadian Transportation Research Forum of a small metro case study of Montpelier–Burlington commuter rail estimates (on/off passenger) concludes that commuter rail service is feasible today. Total Montpelier–Burlington Link commuter bus workday trips recently reached 450 trips (225 round trip commutes) with about 90 commuting round trip from Montpelier and about 135 round trip totals from Burlington and the Richmond Park and Ride.
Self-propelled two-car rail diesel units (DMU’s) can accommodate 150–175 passengers and a lot of bicycles, versus three to four times the capacity of a bus, and commuter rail travel times between Montpelier and Burlington are about the same. The commuter buses serve three stations, while commuter rail serves nine, including seven town and city centers. Commuter rail also provides direct service to IBM Technology Park.
The costs rest easy on the eyes: less than $1 million with federal support and half the cost (about $3.5 million a year for all capital and operating expenses) than the governor’s initial budget of $7 million for the two Amtrak trains for the coming fiscal year.
Commuter rail service can fit in with intercity and Amtrak services, provides almost 100 passenger miles per gallon of fuel, revitalizes the town and city centers and reduces car travel and urban congestion. It is rail service for all reasons!
It is time for the Montpelier transit center development and to bring on commuter and intercity rail—it is back to the future today!
Tony Redington, Burlington