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To The Editor:
On the eve of the Waitsfield town office bond vote, it is worth noting that the project cost for the Methodist Church has finally been projected at $1.6 million – not the $2.1-$2.4 million figures that we have previously been told. The construction costs are now similar to the new building.
Also, the Community Development Block Grant program has become more flexible – perhaps in reaction to the failed bond vote in Waterbury and the need for towns to consider alternatives. In speaking to Josh Hanford (at CDBG), I learned that if a bond vote fails, the town will have up to six months to reconsider its plans and the alternatives could include reducing scope and cost, moving to a different site, or even leasing office space. Josh indicated the six months could be extended, if needed.
A new alternative would require new plans to be incorporated into the application and, obviously, all government rules and regulations still need to be followed. But this is not going back to ground zero. Josh's office is there to help towns solve their flooding problems and avoid unnecessary roadblocks. The two 2013 bond votes have been used up by the Farm Stand site. Another vote cannot take place until 2014, possibly at Town Meeting. There is to be ample time.
The vote will be difficult for church, former Troll Shop and lease space advocates. I believe they are all in favor of having better town offices in a flood-safe location. But they all have concerns regarding the historic nature of our village, the scale or character of our town offices, and how we conduct town business. As I said many months ago, this is a long-term decision that will reflect our community's sense of values. It will tell future generations who we really were in 2013.