Howard “Skip” Brush’s petition gives Middlebury residents a revote on the Select Board/Middlebury College bond proposal.
Skip’s plan, like the Select Board plan, sells the municipal property and buildings. But it damages Main Street less by not hemming in Ilsley Library or worsening the existing parking problem. It builds the new gym in the recreation park, where it would be used primarily by residents, rather than on Creek Road, where it would essentially be a gift to the Middlebury Union High School sports teams. (The teams need a Creek Road structure with changing space, toilets, storm shelter and possibly showers. But the union district should provide those amenities, not the town’s primary recreational facility.)
Skip’s plan offers dedicated space for a senior center, lost in the Select Board plan, and better teen center space. Given a choice, the town might well have preferred the Brush plan to the Select Board’s.
But what Skip’s proposal really shows is that the Select Board plan is not the only possibility. Residents, who had almost no opportunity for public discussion or input about the town’s future, can now compare these proposals and, we hope, suggest several others, including some that uphold the town plan and save the municipal property.
Bond proponents will try to frighten voters with loss of college money if the original plan is rejected. But we are confident that the college will continue to try to acquire the municipal property whenever it sees a chance. The “small vocal minority” of opponents derided by pro-bond forces proved to be 47 percent, showing, as one citizen observed, that “there is no consensus” on the Select Board plan. We hope Middlebury voters will choose what is best for the town in the long run by rejecting the bond on this second vote, and fully considering all possibilities.
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