Vote Yes on Article 14
To the Editor:
This Town Meeting Day, Montpelier has an incredible opportunity that I urge voters not to let go. Purchasing the 138 acres at the former Elk’s Club property is an opportunity to invest in housing, recreation, community and social space, commercial enterprises, and open space that will benefit all residents of Montpelier.
Buying this property helps solve many of Montpelier’s challenges: providing much needed new housing, recreational facilities, and a community center with childcare. Look around — do you see any large parcels of undeveloped land in Montpelier for sale beyond this one? No, you do not. That is because large parcels of undeveloped land in Montpelier are very rare, and it is rarer still for these parcels to come up for sale.
Because they are rare, there is no question that if the city does not purchase this property, somebody else will. In that case, the city will have no voice in what is or is not built. If the city purchases the property, residents of Montpelier can have a voice in what happens on that land. Housing, recreational opportunities, and childcare have all been identified by the city as priorities, and this parcel of land has the potential to address all of them.
If purchased by the city, this property will be an asset to the residents of Montpelier for years to come. This is an opportunity that should not be missed. Please vote yes on Article 14!
Brad Watson, Montpelier
Elks Club Purchase Ensures Equitable Access to Recreation
To the Editor:
The public debate around whether to authorize the purchase of the country club property has been missing an important facet. The development of public recreation resources is fundamental to ensuring equity in access to the outdoors and recreation opportunities, especially for our children. As a long-time user of Montpelier’s current recreation facilities, both as a player and a coach, I believe they perpetuate inequitable outcomes.
Our parks and trails are exclusively located on one side of town. The real estate market reflects that access to nature. The expansion of the bike path up along the course of the old access road would bring new opportunities to residents who lack nearby access to recreational opportunities presently.
We also need to be honest about the inequitable investment in public recreation. The Recreation Center on Barre Street is inadequate for many reasons and fails to provide a safe place for kids to grow, learn, and challenge themselves. Vermont has a wealth of pay-to-play recreational opportunities that simply aren’t accessible for residents. Despite the efforts of the Recreation Department and volunteers to overcome these challenges, the affluent can provide their children opportunities others do not have.
In my professional capacity, I think a lot about environmental justice — ensuring equitable access to environmental benefits without inequitable impacts of environmental burdens. I do understand that adding more long-term debt feels challenging for residents of our community, but if we’re going to provide meaningful opportunities for all residents, we need to make our outdoor and other recreational activities accessible for all.
As we weigh this important decision, I hope we can bear in mind that public recreational resources are inequitably shared currently. I will be voting in favor of the purchase to improve recreational opportunities for all residents. We won’t get another opportunity like this.
Peter Walke, Montpelier
Keep Downtown Alive
To the Editor:
According to Montpelier’s City Council, one of their key policy priorities is improving “community prosperity.” A central piece of that goal has to be the health and well being of Montpelier’s retail district. Yet the city is now proposing a 9.7% increase in the General Fund budget, with a 6.8% increase in the tax rate.
Retail businesses on State and Main have never been more fragile. Jeff Bezos and company delivered a gut punch even before the pandemic. With COVID, the majority of these businesses have seen their customer base, largely state employees, erode over the last two years. Confronting increased wage costs to bring employees back to work, and heating costs that are 50% higher than last year, the future is daunting.
Whether our retail businesses own or rent their stores, they all pay the substantially higher non-residential tax rate (a rate that has been growing faster than the residential rate). And there is no income sensitivity and no rebates for their taxes.
On top of these budget and tax increases, Montpelier also proposes to spend $2 million “to purchase the current Elks Club property for future recreation use.” At a time when other communities are level funding their budgets to help businesses struggling to get back on their feet, Montpelier’s budget sends the wrong message to these businesses that are the heart and soul of the city’s strategic priority — ”improving prosperity.” Right now Montpelier would be much better off spending money simply to keep downtown Montpelier alive.
Dave Kelley, Greensboro (and former long-time Montpelier resident and commercial real estate owner)
Cell Tower Defies Town Ordinance
It is outrageous that Industrial Wireless Technologies, Inc., proposed a 200-foot tower on one of Worcester’s beautiful, pristine ridgelines. It would be a permanent eyesore for all future generations.
It would be visible from many distant locations, including Hunger Mountain, Worcester Mountain, and White Rocks. A 200-foot tower on Norton Road would immediately alter the scenic views for people living on the opposite side of town, people in the village and along Route 12, and people that view the Worcester Range from the Ellis-Bruce Trail. And it is being sited 300 feet from a residence.
What irks me and many others is that the proposed tower is more than 100 feet taller than it needs to be and the company can legally and totally disregard the town ordinance. Worcester’s 1998 town ordinance clearly states that such a tower “shall be not more than 20 feet above the average height of the tree line measured within 100 feet of the highest vertical element of the telecommunications facility.” It further states that the height should “not cause an undue visual impact on the scenic character or appearance of the area.” The proposed Industrial tower violates both of those requirements.
In their letter of advance notice, Industrial had the gall to state: “Industrial has designed the facility to minimize impacts on natural and scenic resources.” The truth is that they want a 198.8-foot tower, the tallest they can erect, so they can maximize its profitability and rent spots for “future carrier antennas” to other telecommunications companies. It’s all about profits and ROI.
It threatens to permanently change and disfigure the rural character of our town.
Any such tower needs to be sited and sized more in keeping with our town ordinance and town plan.
Peter Comart, Worcester
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