• Select Board switch is puzzling
    October 01,2013
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    We appreciate Bruce Edwards’ reporting and hope the Herald will continue to cover the Middlebury college/town land controversy.

    Ultimately, the Ilsley Library will have no say in approving the town office building slated to go next to it. Building a gym in the recreation park requires the consent of the ID#4 elementary school board, which has a daunting list of questions the selectmen must answer. But pressure on the ID#4 board will be enormous.

    The main issue for many who oppose the land deal is that the sell-off to Middlebury College of a large and prominent parcel of town heartland would impoverish the town forever. The site is pictured on your September 29 front page. The effect of a sign there saying “Welcome to Middlebury College,” rather than “Middlebury Town Offices,” cannot be overstated. College president Ron Liebowitz, trained as a geographer, admits the college doesn’t need this land. He has deprecated it in interviews, saying in effect, that the college is merely acquiring some green space in town, as if it did not have acres of green space on campus, not to mention property around the world.

    But the town’s character will be hugely altered if it is abruptly truncated, as it would be, at the Main Street traffic circle, opposite Two Brothers restaurant. As recently as June 2012, the now-discarded plan on the town’s website said both, “The town is committed to maintaining the Municipal Gymnasium on this site,” and “This plan…demonstrates the visibility and importance of this site to the town.” Neither the site nor its importance to the town has changed, but the select board’s commitment vanished overnight, with no input from the voters. The select board talks a good game, as your article illustrates, but the citizens are learning what its commitments are worth.


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