• Voters chose sensible solution
    March 19,2014
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    Voters chose sensible solution

    A March 14 letter to the Herald said those who voted for the proposal for a new Middlebury town office building and gym had betrayed their town. That proposal, including an exchange of downtown parcels with Middlebury College and $5.5 million of college financial support, passed by 53 percent to 47 percent. It will raise the town tax rate by about 2 cents; the least costly alternative, renovation of existing decrepit and, in the case of the office building, ill-suited structures, would have raised rates by at least 6.5 cents.

    So who took actions perhaps not in Middlebury’s best interest? I won’t use the unfortunate word “betray.” Well, opponents made many reality-challenged claims; I will address only those mentioned in the letter.

    n The existing gym is “noble” and “renovation-worthy.” It is a run-down energy hog that would take $2.7 million to bring fully up to code.

    n The new gym will be “a gift” to our high school sports teams. High school officials have repeatedly stated teams will only use attached and separately funded locker rooms.

    n “Middlebury College will devour irreplaceable town land.” It will become a park.

    n Backers of the project “falsely accused” opponents of personal attacks on a Select Board member. Well, he was unfairly alleged to have a conflict of interest on this project as a former Middlebury College professor. But he had that same relationship to the college when the town and college agreed that the town would accept financial backing for an in-town bridge. Curiously, project foes said nothing then.

    There were other misleading statements that muddied the waters before the vote; perhaps that was one reason it was as close as 117 tallies, rather than passing only because of some imaginary “lock-step assault on the democratic process.”

    What really happened on March 4 in Middlebury was simple: a majority of voters decided a good, cost-effective solution was found after 20 years of study.

    ANDREW KIRKALDY

    Middlebury
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