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To The Editor:
I take offense that the Waitsfield Select Board is being accused of implementing personal agendas or is somehow forcing the town to build a new town office on the Farm Stand site. If you listen to the public comments of the select board members as to their personal preferences, you'd hear that none of us originally showed a preference for the Farm Stand site. I thought that putting the town's offices in Irasville could help catalyze pedestrian-friendly growth in an area that will continue to be the business center of Waitsfield and The Valley. Unfortunately, the public outreach done by the task force didn't find that much support for this idea. I also felt that facing a budget impact of over a million dollars and voters largely divided over the best site, we would have been better off continuing to rent for a few more years while we saved up and got on the same page as a town.
Getting the $750k grant changed my mind.
I've renovated two 40-year-old buildings and both projects went over budget, so I'm not keen on saddling the taxpayers with unknown or spiraling costs from a building renovation. The gift of money to buy the Farm Stand property has no requirement that it be used for building the new town office. So who benefits from decisions supposedly being made and implemented by an "old boy network" in "smoke filled rooms?" Not a single person on the board or the task force would stand to gain a thing.
Maybe the better question is who benefits from not having a permanent change at the Farm Stand site? In my thinking, the opportunity to put up a nice town office at a very reduced fixed price is the only responsible decision and the benefit is to all of us.
Parker is a member of the Waitsfield Select Board.