Home Commentary Letters Letters to the Editor, Feb. 22, 2023

Letters to the Editor, Feb. 22, 2023

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Sliding at Sabin’s Pasture

To the Editor:

I was pleased to see and read Paul Carnahan’s article “The Ski Tow on Sabin’s Pasture” in the Feb. 8 issue of The Bridge. I wanted to add some information to expand on the article. I lived in the neighborhood from 1968 to 1978, and when I wasn’t in school I spent the bulk of my time year ’round exploring Sabin’s Pasture. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point the rope tow was removed from the big hill across the stream and relocated to the smaller hill directly below the back parking lot for the college. I probably started my explorations of the pasture at age five or so, and there was no rope tow on the big hill at that time. However, the big hill was an irresistible destination for sliding (or, for flatlanders, “sledding”), and my friends and I were there quite a bit every winter. It was a pretty fast and exciting ride down that steep hill, and the question in our minds was always “When I get to the bottom, can I jump over the stream, or will I crash right into it?”

Thanks again for that piece of Montpelier history.

Carl Quesnel, Montpelier

XC Skiing and Housing Can Coexist

To the Editor:

I am concerned about both the affordability of housing in our area and maintaining public access to skiing at the former Elks Club property. Currently, the property is the primary Nordic skiing site for the Montpelier area, and the only area groomed specifically for skiing with other uses kept on separate trails.

 Why is it important to maintain skiing access at the Elks Club? It is important to what kind of community we are building and its livability. Skiing at the Elks can be amazing. People of all ages from babies being towed in pulks to seniors. It is the primary skiing site for both the middle and high school teams as well as a youth program. It’s part of the reason a former Montpelier middle school skier won a medal at the junior world championships as well as part of the reason three Montpelier natives have been to the Olympics. These programs, including grooming, are run by volunteers.

The other groomed trails have such heavy foot traffic that they are often unskiable. Maintaining skiing access at the Elks Club will require trail design to be built into the property development design. Those trails need to have a very limited number of road crossings. 

It is not a choice between housing or skiing — it is possible to do both. Skiing in Ottawa last year, for example, I found that the trail went through housing developments with minimal road crossings and good quality grooming. As an existing public use, including widespread community participation, a youth program, and middle- and high-school teams, skiing deserves as much consideration as other uses. It is possible to construct housing at the Elks Club in a way that maintains recreation.

Jason Serota-Winston, Montpelier

Work Together to Plan Housing 

To the Editor:

Before I went to the meeting on the proposed plans for the former Elks Club property, I wanted a lot of housing there. At the meeting I learned that although we bought the property with the promise that the city could do that, most of the land is too steep to build affordably. Also, the access road — U.S Route 2 — is already congested and there is no easy mitigation. There is also no reasonable route for a new road. Therefore, we cannot use the property for anything that causes many people to be entering or leaving at approximately the same time.

There are other areas closer to downtown Montpelier on which to build: Northfield, Barre, and Terrace streets. Therefore, our most economical way to get more housing is to purchase or permit land for housing on one or more of those sites and leave the Elks Club site mainly for recreation. For the same money we’d get both the new housing and the recreation site. 

Since we all agree that we need new housing, perhaps it is time for the abutters to those properties to meet with the city council and decide TOGETHER how to do it. Maybe they should be thankful for the time they’ve had to enjoy undeveloped land and not insist on that privilege extending forever.

Dvora Jonas, Montpelier

Where the Potholes Live

To the Editor:

I am concerned about the dreadful state of some of the streets in the city. I live on the worst street in the city, in my opinion, and it has been the worst for years. It’s North Street, folks, where the potholes live.

When I inquired of our Department of Public Works recently of when it might be fixed, I learned that there is no date for reconstruction. A temporary resurfacing may occur before a major rebuild takes place, but — guess what — there is no date for that either! 

Two larger issues are shaping the woeful state of North Street and some other city streets. The first is our city’s paving policy, which a staff person there summarized as “We don’t do the worst streets first.” Well, it sort of makes sense from a purely engineering perspective, but the human dimensions of this policy — the real day-to-day implications of this policy — have apparently never been explored by our actual policy makers. The concept is to spend our dollars on keeping the good streets in good shape, but it puts the “worst” streets on the back burner. We’ve suffered for years, with no end in sight. Thanks a lot!

Steve Sease, Montpelier

Will Trade Schools Help with the Housing Crisis?

To the Editor: 

There has been a lot of talk about building housing in central Vermont in the news I have been exposed to of late. Ironically, one of the developments has been put off until 2025 because of the inability to hire a contractor.

I have been hearing it is impossible to hire a carpenter, plumber, or electrician in the last few years. Is this because of COVID? I think it has more to do with the fact that parents encourage and even force their kids to attend colleges instead of trade schools and apprenticeships. Perhaps if that had not been such big a deal 5–10 years ago, we wouldn’t be in this crisis now.

Dianne Richardson, Montpelier

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