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  • 30 Jul 2015

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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Siting town garage in center of village not sensible


By Michael Lewis
I read the article in the June 21 edition of The Valley Reporter about the Town of Warren's considerations for town garage sites. I wasn't aware this was happening, but I have wished it would for the past five years.

I read carefully about the various sites that are possible options, trying to find some mention of one factor that I consider very important for selecting a site -- noise and air pollution. As I expected, costs, land use issues, and proximity of services were discussed. But, apparently, none of the town officials quoted in the article live near the current town garage.
In the winter, I am awakened every morning at 4 a.m. or so, by the plow trucks heading out to clear the roads. Hearing a plow truck early in the morning is not unusual anywhere in Vermont. Having several of them passing by every few minutes with the sound of the engines accelerating or decelerating for the stop sign at Brook Road is another matter.
In the warmer months, road crews are busy repairing roads, grading dirt roads, clearing ditches, fixing bridges and a host of other things that require trucks and heavy equipment. Every time one of them passes through the intersection of Brook Road and School Road engines roar and brakes squeal. With the windows open, the sound is so loud I can't hear someone on the phone or hear the TV or radio. Of course, the fact that my home fills with diesel fumes is not pleasant either. To add insult to injury, every truck descending Brook Road from East Warren, jake brakes roaring, adds to the din.
Repair work has just begun on the bridge outside my door. Traffic control people manage the single available lane. That means that many of these vehicles sit and wait for oncoming traffic outside my window, the noise and fumes filling my home.
Apart from nearby residents suffering from the noise and air quality issues, my marketing background leads me to point out the negative impact a facility like the town garage can have on tourism -- or at least the quality of a visitor's experience -- in a quaint Vermont village like Warren. I understand that, when the town garage was originally constructed on the current site, factors involved may have been different. That was then. This is now.
If I had my way, no trucks or heavy equipment would be allowed to pass through Warren Village at all, with the exception of snowplows and equipment performing road work in the village. Given the local geography, I'm sure that's impractical. Siting the town garage in a location that is not in the center of the village would, however, be practical and sensible in my opinion. I have been involved in many environmental issues as a communications professional over the years. I'm well aware of the NIMBY syndrome. In this case, I'm suggesting finding a location that is not in the midst of any densely populated residential area -- not just the one in my backyard.
Michael Lewis lives in Warren.

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