Why not Memorial Park? Editor of the Reformer:
Instead of putting the much needed skatepark at the Crowell Lot, a lovely neighborhood greenspace, I ask that the planning committee please reconsider its original proposal of siting it at Memorial Park. Apparently that idea was dropped because of organized opposition from the residents of Brookside Condos (which borders on the park) who didn’t want it located there. I don’t see how the folks at Brookside could be as inconvenienced as the neighborhood surrounding the Crowell Lot. And there would be plenty of parking space at Memorial Park. Please put the skatepark there.
Putney, Oct. 1
An unfounded fear
Editor of the Reformer:
Vermonters have pretty good judgment on a lot of issues, but we suffer from a bad case of NIMBYism. For instance we’re in favor of renewable energy, as long as it’s not within sight of our homes. Likewise we think skateboarders should have a park, as long as it’s in someone else’s neighborhood, not ours.
When the new skatepark is built at the Crowell Lot, no current facilities will be lost. The same swings, playground, basketball court, and dog walking space will still be there. And it will also have a place for athletic kids and adults to skateboard, a constructive and healthy activity.
The town has been through a long process of site selection, yet some people want to go through it again. I’m a Crowell Lot neighbor who wonders about the real reasons behind the skate park NIMBYism. I got some clues from letters published in the Reformer on Sept. 29. One writer erroneously claims a New Hampshire skatepark was closed due to bad behavior (it’s actually a seasonal closing), while another claimed to be speaking for some unnamed mothers and caregivers who supposedly won’t let their small children play near a skatepark.
What shows through in these letters is an unfounded fear that skateboarding is accompanied by juvenile delinquency, i.e. graffiti, loitering, drugs etc. If they knew Brattleboro’s skateboarders they would lose this fear. People should also remember that those small children who enjoy the playground today will soon be teenagers, some of whom will likely continue to use the park as skateboarders, then later as parents and middle-aged basketball players.
There is enough room at the Crowell Lot for everyone. It’s time to stop this NIMBYism and put Vermont values of tolerance and inclusion into practice in our own neighborhood, not just in someone else’s.
Brattleboro, Oct. 1
The time is now
Editor of the Reformer:
I agree with Selectboard Member David Gartenstein who supports the renovation of the police and fire facilities, but only if the local option tax is approved to help pay for the project. As a community, we have been talking about these projects for years and the need is obviously there at both facilities. The board has carefully reviewed the plans and pared them down. Why not do it now while bond rates are low? Waiting longer will only inflate the cost of the project in the future and may subject it to higher rates.
The Brattleboro tax rate is already extremely high (second highest in the state) and the need for infrastructure projects must be balanced with the taxpayer’s ability to pay. It would be patently unfair to make the taxpayers swallow a 10.4-cent increase when the increase would only be 4.5 cents with the addition of a local option tax. Additionally, the taxpayer has recently seen large increases in water and sewer rates as a result of necessary upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant.
Brattleboro has a difficult time raising additional tax revenue. This is because the grand list has been relatively stagnant in growth these past few years for a variety of reasons. We are limited by geographic constraints, economic challenges of a week economy, large drops in the value of the commercial-industrial sector (shifting additional burden to the homeowner), many exempt properties by statute, and most subsidized public housing projects are assessed at a discount on their fair market value. Because of all these factors, Brattleboro needs additional help in raising tax revenue to subsidize the grand list and help fund the necessary infrastructure projects so necessary to our future. The local option tax is a viable means in helping our town.
This tax will be paid by a variety of people. Some of the money raised by this tax will be paid by residents who make downtown purchases. For me, I doubt that I would go across the river because I had to pay $2 more on a $200 lawn mower purchase at Brown and Roberts. Other money raised by this tax will come from residents of adjacent communities who derive benefits from Brattleboro such as employment, retail and other services, but pay no existing tax for their utilization of Brattleboro. I suspect a majority of this tax will be paid by the many tourists who visit our town and probably will not even know that they paid it.
I understand BaBB and the Chamber of Commerce do not support this tax as potentially harmful to business and another negative factor after a troublesome time following Irene and the Brooks House Fire. We are saddened by those events and wish all the best in recovering from the disasters. However, the organizations need to look beyond the narrow view of their constituencies and do what is right for Brattleboro as a whole. Downtowns all over America are experiencing a marvelous renaissance and the town of Brattleboro will too. Many local business are reinvesting in their endeavors already, and, with the tremendous work of the Brooks House successors, the best times are yet to come for downtown Brattleboro.
As a homeowner, downtown property owner, and life-long resident, I am really concerned about rising property tax rates. However, I see a tremendous need for renovations of the police and fire facilities. Let us go ahead and do these renovations but do not send the entire bill to the property owners. Let the new tax do its share to reduce the increase in property taxes and help fund these necessary projects.
Hugh W. Barber,
Brattleboro, Oct. 4
Vote for Dunbar
Editor of the Reformer:
I write to encourage you to vote for Emmett Dunbar for State Representative. I have had a wonderful business relationship with Emmett for 15 years. I hold a great deal of respect for him, as a farmer, a business man and a family man. I have been serving his locally grown organic produce at The Perfect Wife Restaurant since 1997. In those years we have been good friends who understand each other’s businesses and work well together to keep our businesses viable.
We hosted a meet and greet at the restaurant for Vince Illuzi, a long-standing Republican State Senator, who is running for State Auditor. Emmett attended the event and was able to spend time speaking with me about his ideas and concerns. Emmett can relate to Sen. Illuzi’s views on fiscal responsibility with a strong commitment to the need for high-quality education without excessive spending. As a legislator I know Emmett will speak to the importance of early childhood education, affordable infant and toddler daycare, and the value of investing in Vermont’s future: all of our children.
In addition, Emmett is part of the working landscape of Vermont. As a farmer, Emmett supports the development of agricultural business statewide, and the Vermont products that have come to be known throughout the country due to their excellence.
Emmett mentioned that he intends to be on the Commerce Committee when serving as Representative. I am a member of the Vermont Farm Trail that Emmett created for our region. It has been a beneficial marketing strategy and is exactly the kind of project that our local economy can benefit from.
I am confident that Emmett, a new voice, will speak strongly for small Vermont communities like yours, which, in turn, can also help small towns like mine.
Chef/Owner, The Perfect Wife Restaurant and Tavern
Manchester Center, Oct. 4