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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673
802-496-3928
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"Smart way to grow"

 By Garth Genge

We wish to express support for the proposed water system for the Town of Waitsfield. The Central Vermont Community Land Trust's intent in town is to be a good neighbor and a benefit to the community providing affordable housing in various forms.

We have three properties that would potentially be affected by the proposal: Evergreen Place with 18 units of independent living senior housing, Mad River Meadows Apartments that contains 12 elderly and 12 family apartments and the Verdmont Mobile Home Park which has 29 lots serving seniors and families.

Each property we have would be expensive to hook up to the new system and initially the operating costs would increase but we believe that over time the investment would be worth it. Each project has to maintain the extensive water treatment systems necessary to operate a small water system according to state regulation. The capital costs of maintaining and replacing pumps, tanks and controls for those systems (not to speak of having to replace a failed well on a limited site) would be eliminated with a municipal system plus the cost of paying a licensed contractor to monitor the systems and report to the state would not be necessary anymore. Thus we feel it is a good investment for the properties, enhancing their long-term stability.

At our project in Warren we are developing, in partnership with Housing Vermont, 18 family units, designated to be affordable for people who work on the mountain, at the previous site of the Blue Tooth. The exceptional water and septic complications and expense for projects like this make them extremely expensive and difficult to do. Land and infrastructure costs have defeated many projects like this in The Valley and the people who are most affected are the people who work in our schools and local businesses. People with low incomes face challenges everywhere but where land costs are high and municipal infrastructure non-existent, moderate and middle-income people face the dilemma of not being able to afford to live in the areas in which they work. At CVCLT we believe a successful community needs residents from every socio-economic level to thrive and this is a move that can make the town more affordable to more people.

The businesses that provide the jobs and attract the visitors that support the economy of The Valley as a whole need reliable infrastructure to be able to sustain their operations, have options for growth and the flexibility to adapt to changing needs. Developing a stable reliable water system will help support the continuing viability of the businesses in Waitsfield, the commercial center of The Valley. Everyone is concerned that development be controlled and the value of living where we do maintained. A good solid base of municipal services broadens the options available for the good local planning that can keep Vermont a place we cherish to live in.

CVCLT believes investing in the infrastructure of the town is the right thing to do. Smart, controlled investment in infrastructure stabilizes a community and provides it opportunities which individual solutions to water and septic do not. In this project the  end users, businesses (like us) and the residents of the town who participate, are who will pay for the project and the town gets the advantage of the sizable investment from the federal and state sources of funds available for projects like this, which constitutes a major investment in improving the resources of the town returning tax dollars directly to the community. We believe it is a smart way to grow, support it and hope the community as a whole can get behind it so that enough participants enroll to make it viable and affordable.

Genge is director of real estate operations for the Central Vermont Community Land Trust.

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