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Adding Murray Hill to City Water System Deserved a Bigger Discussion Than the Consent Agenda

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To the Editor: 

In November of 2022, with respect to the purchase of the “Country Club Road” (Elks Club) project, Greg Gerdel reported in The Bridge that “City Manager Bill Fraser (said) … the existing [Montpelier] infrastructure has the capacity to serve 500 additional housing units.” One month later, it was announced that the Montpelier water system would be adding almost 100 additional housing units to its supply system at the Murray Hill development, an agreement that was passed by the city council on the consent agenda, a tool used to streamline meeting procedures by collecting routine, non-controversial items into a group whereby all are passed with a single motion and vote. 

While coming to the aid of the taxpayers of Murray Hill by adding them to our water supply infrastructure (their wells ran dry) was something I supported, it was certainly not without impact on Montpelier’s infrastructure capacity or contractual commitments with respect to Montpelier’s water challenges. Among other things, the result was that it reduced our capacity for increased water supply demands by almost 20%. At the very least, I believe at least one member of the city council (I’m thinking of Jack McCullough who wants to be mayor) should have objected and asked that the vote on this be on the main agenda for discussion and inclusion for the public. 

I don’t believe adding nearly a hundred households to Montpelier’s water demand was a “non-controversial” or “routine” agenda item. The consent agenda items deserve careful review for exactly this reason. Montpelier deserves a mayor who will, among many other things, monitor that agenda and object when it is clearly needed. I believe my choice for mayor, Dan Jones, would have been more observant and careful, not to mention much more proactive about the serious challenges Montpelier faces.

Stephen McArthur, Montpelier

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