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Editor's Note: This letter was sent to The Valley Reporter contributing writer Lizzy Hewitt in response to a request for updates on rebuilding on Bridge Street. (See related story, Page 7 of this weeks Valley Reporter.)
Sorry we didn't get your message until today. Hopefully we are still in time: We do have some news. We actually would like to publish something in one of the sections of your newspaper.
We find ourselves in a situation that we might not be alone fighting.
We have built MINT from scratch into an amenity to the area, the community and a fairly successful restaurant by our standards. We could do this because we believed we were standing on a firm physical and administrative ground. That has all changed with the recent flood. The physical space became not so sound anymore but we still believed that the administrative ground still stood firm. Today that has changed also.
Our flood insurance claim has been denied based on the claim from Union Mutual Fire Insurance Company that our business is located in a basement. We are outraged! We feel cheated on several levels.
This is what I am thinking: If we are allowed to rent a space in a building, if the town allows the building to rent this space to operate as a restaurant, if we got septic, water, if we can get a permit from the department of health, a liquor license from the state and if we can buy insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, I think because the town of Waitsfield elected flood plain zoning then all this should suggest that we are putting our business in a space that is suitable for a business. Key word here is THE SPACE. We believed that the decisions made above us are keeping us and the community safe. These decisions should take care of potential disaster situations where a lot is lost and wasted. Mostly hope in the grand sense of the word.
So we bought insurance, raised the coverage in May when waters were rising and were congratulating ourselves on our foresight when Irene came around. When it did, we were of course in shock, first because of the destruction of the beauty we worked tirelessly and full heartedly to create and share with our neighbors and visitors. Then because we had no idea where to start the cleanup but there were so many who did. Then our two months long experience at the Waitsfield UCC. They took us in and made us forget a little, kept us sane, kept us in touch with what we love to do.
We have been waiting to go back to our space for three months now. The owners of our building have been getting the space ready to be rentable again. It's a long time to keep one's spirits up. But now as that work is coming to an end we can start to recreate MINT again. In three to four weeks we could be ready to open. But now it's a disaster all over again. As we contemplate our course of action with the insurance company and FEMA this is our update...
Savitri Bhagavati lives in Waitsfield.