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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673
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Let’s move on

This week Waitsfield voters, by a 60/40 margin, said yes to building new town offices at the Farm Stand site in Waitsfield Village.

The yes vote came despite vocal opposition to building a new building rather than rehabilitating a historic structure also located in the village. That building, the former Methodist Church, is privately owned, houses three families and at least one business and, by all methods of estimating, would cost significantly more to rehabilitate or re-use.

And the sentiments of those who favored the church over building at the Farm Stand won't diminish or fade overnight. They may well lead to a petition for a revote. But maybe it's time to put this behind us and move on.

The town gave the Methodist Church a fair shake, giving it the same full court press that the Farm Stand received. The town simultaneously applied for a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant for the Farm Stand and the Methodist Church and the grant application committee awarded the grant to the Farm Stand specifically.

The town does have the option of rejecting the $750,000 grant (which drops the cost to voters of building new town offices to $453,787) and getting back in line behind Moretown, Wilmington and other Vermont towns in seeking to obtain Community Development Block Grants to move their public facilities out of the floodplain. But there's no guarantee that the funds would be re-awarded to Waitsfield.

Voters said no to a $1.6 million, much larger plan for town offices at Town Meeting in March and the select board listened and pared it down and obtained the grant. Voters said yes and said so by a significant margin.

It's time to move on. We've been at this for over two years. Let's accept that in a democracy not everyone gets what they want all the time. These are the rules we agree to abide by.

Kudos to the church supporters for their passion for preserving and restoring a beautiful building in Waitsfield Village. Hopefully that passion and interest will carry beyond the idea of having that building host Waitsfield's town offices.

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