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

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Restaurant closings


By Don Simonini

After catching up on my out-of-state Valley Reporters for the last four weeks I find the discussion of the closure of restaurants somewhat ironic and historically repetitive, at best.

I have owned land and lived part time in The Valley since 1972. I have watched the various gyrations of the business community (mostly downward gyrations!) and one common thread permeates the entire 35 years of my exposure to this wonderful place we all seem to "love":

There is a continued and constant attitude of "I am here; let's close the gate and keep others out." We are anti-business as a community because of this attitude as evidenced by the constant flow of opposition to almost anything that people try to do whether selling their own land to help fund their retirement, to developing businesses like the quarry, the aquifer, Small Dog, Jake's and so many other situations over the last 35 years.

I marvel at the fortitude and patience the select board and planning commission members of the three towns of Fayston, Waitsfield and Warren have in their volunteer jobs. They are constantly in a no-win situation when it comes to any kind of development approval because there is always opposition and conflict. It is amazing to me how even the most simple approvals take on a "life and death" atmosphere usually played out in excruciating detail in The Valley Reporter.

Win Smith was right on when he said let's look at the glass half full. We need an attitude adjustment in the community or we will continue to have a revolving door of shops and restaurant closings and a continued history of mediocre growth and prosperity. We, as a community, have relied on Sugarbush to provide the engine for growth and stability and this can only take us so far. We need to seriously promote, identify and support new environmentally sound and appropriate businesses in The Valley so future shops and restaurants can make a go of it year round.

I wish I could feel optimistic about our ability as a community to rise above individual personal interest and work toward the greater good, but after watching the last 35 years of conflict and disagreement in The Valley, I have my doubts we have the collective fortitude to succeed in any common business development expansion and progress. We are very fortunate that Win Smith and his partners have invested in the mountain but we can only expect so much from them. We, as a community, need to recognize our responsibilities to provide our share (and cooperation) to fuel the growth that is needed to balance the investments made by Sugarbush.

We can accomplish the joint objectives of growth with balance for the communities, but we need people to speak up and work toward solutions instead of trying to derail every idea that comes along because "it might change the rural character of The Valley." The alternative is to go back to dairy farming and we all know this failed 20 to 30 years ago!

Change is sometimes awkward and unsettling but avoidance and ignorance are more dangerous because you may wake up someday with no shops and no restaurants to enjoy and a home and land worth financially a fraction of what you once had. The beauty of the scenery, mountains and streams can only take us so far.

Don Simonini lives in Fayston and Boston.

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