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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673
802-496-3928
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"It's not just water, it's our future"

By Nicholas Harmon

Vote yes. It's not just water, it's our future!

The water vote is more than just about water. It's about the future of the town of Waitsfield. Much like our great nation which is suffering from unwise decisions and direction at the hands of our current government, our town is divided and distrustful of its government. Years of bad decisions and arrogance have left many divisions, hard feelings and distrust amongst our townspeople.

This has to change if we are to reach our potential as a sustainable community. It is time to begin the healing and come together as we move forward. It has already begun with the recent election of two new select board members. Times are changing in Waitsfield and we must continue to believe that they will and can get better.

The new select board and the planning commission are asking us to support them. They have studied the water plan, held numerous hearings while clearly and openly addressing all the issues brought forward. There are so many good reasons we should vote yes for the water system, but I think the strongest is that we need to come together as a community in favor of a positive future.  The water system will not raise our taxes; the costs will be paid by the users. As I try to understand why some of our citizens are against this project, I find a significant reason to vote no being the distrust of and anger towards the town government. But that's wrong! We selected our select board members and they volunteer their time and energy on our behalf. We should support them, and we should vote yes for a better future for Waitsfield.
 
Having recently owned a commercial property in Historic Waitsfield with 11 tenants, I know firsthand how much of a problem providing and maintaining a private water supply can be. By eliminating this problem for our downtown business, residents and the elementary school, we will demonstrate our support for a vibrant, healthy and conscientious community.
 
And it won't cost you anything unless you hook up to it, or we vote it down. If we vote it down, funds expended to study and plan for the system will have to be repaid. These funds will be wrapped up in the project cost and will be covered by grants and user fees if we vote yes.

As a businessman operating in Waitsfield I hear much disparagement about our town's reputation as anti-business and out of touch. It's time to change that perception! It is interesting to note that a large number of the businesses in Waitsfield are owned by people who live in Warren and Fayston. These people are interwoven into our community.
 
They are us; we are all the same -- residents of the Mad River Valley. These businesses have no say in the decision. As our neighbors and part of the larger valley community they deserve your support and consideration, especially if it does not cost you anything but a few minutes of your time to vote.
 
Some of us were born here and others moved here. Whether a new resident or one with deep roots, we are all in this together. Mother Theresa said, "Grow where you are planted." Growth is a natural phenomenon. We should welcome it and embrace it. This does not mean welcoming WalMart or McDonalds, but it does mean evolving. Adding a water system infrastructure to the business corridor in Waitsfield will not open up a cavalcade of development. There are many factors that face and constrain us which will all need to be addressed in time as we respond to the need for affordable housing, recreational facilities and smart civic planning.
 
Providing a water system is the first step in establishing a sensible, caring and sustainable downtown corridor. We need local jobs and we can only create them by attracting and retaining healthy and low-impact businesses.

Please put aside the mistreatments and misunderstandings of the past and vote yes on Tuesday, September 9, for our collective brighter future together. We can evolve and positively change by embracing the future and it all starts now with the Water vote. Thank you for your consideration

Nicholas Harmon lives in Waitsfield and is the president of Waitsfield-based Verilux.

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