To The Editor:
I appreciated Lisa Loomis' article that appeared in last week's paper about the pond drainage in front of the Big Picture Theater because I was able to see through direct quotes the thought processes of a patriarchal group of men who come across as inflexible and punitive in their decision making.
My assumption has always been that selectmen are elected to represent their community. I haven't met anyone yet who is not grateful to Claudia Becker for taking an eyesore -- a place that until now seemed doomed to failure -- and creating a cultural center that contributes greatly to our community. Film and music fans, people who like to dine out without spending their monthly mortgage check, and children benefit from her largesse. The Big Picture is a source of pride for our community, and I find it irresponsible to put its existence in jeopardy because of a refusal to work with the owner in finding an alternative solution.
Anyone who has been in this Valley for 30 years, as I have, can recall other instances when the Waitsfield Select Board trampled on a dream, or made the process of building a dream too stressful and costly. No one is denying the importance of successful pond drainage, but the remarks of the opposition seem to focus on the fact that this woman disobeyed and has to be taught a lesson rather than on the possibility of a creative solution. Saying publicly that Ms. Becker has to "deal with her own parking lot issues" or that "she had no business doing that in the first place" are not remarks that suggest any cooperation. The one member of the board, Charlie Hosford, who attempted to dialogue about the alternatives that were offered by Ms. Becker was met with a vote to stick to the original command of the board, which was to have the land restored to its original condition.
I want to encourage the selectmen to consider revisiting their decision, and if they refuse, I hope the people of Waitsfield will stand up and insist on more cooperative and considerate leadership in the future.