Archive - Editorial
November 30th, 2007
High on the plateau above the New Haven River overlooking the village of Bristol rests a fertile 11-acre hay meadow with spectacular views of Deerleap Mountain, the Bristol Cliffs, Bristol’s downtown and views west toward the Adirondacks. With a thin row of trees bordering the meadow on two sides and high mountains at its back, the site is as picturesque as it gets in Vermont — and that’s pretty special.
But the purpose of a site visit this past Monday at this scenic location, wasn’t to admire the view and imagine the good fortune that 25 or 30 families might have if a residential neighborhood were established there in the distant future, or in the similarly sized wooded section that borders the meadow on the south side. Rather, the District 9 Environmental Commission held a public site visit to give its members, Bristol residents and others an opportunity to walk the site and learn the details of a proposed gravel pit that would excavate untold hundreds of thousands of tons of gravel for the next 35 or more years.
The questions answered during the site visit were of a technical nature: if the access road goes here, how will the traffic flow; what landscaping will be done to hide the cut into the woods; what will be done to mitigate the noise, gravel dust and visual scars to the land; where will the digging begin, how will it proceed? They talked about 200-foot setbacks and test pits and the steepness of access and egress roads.
But the central question of whether a conditional use permit should be granted to allow the significant parcel to be mined as a gravel pit or left, as some argue the town’s municipal plan suggests, as a residential area for future growth was not discussed.
It is, however, the question Bristol residents should reconsider in a public process.
Today’s front-page headline is a stunner: Middlebury College pledges $9 million to help the town build the long-discussed Cross Street Bridge. As a gift to the town, it’s huge and most generous. But the bigger story is the message behind the gift — it’s a new era in town-gown relations that promises a greater degree of cooperation and interaction to the benefit of both.
And that’s terrific.
This new era is punctuated by several factors:
• The current generation of students are doers, says Middlebury College President Ron Liebowitz, and the college campus may not be big enough for them throughout their four-year stint. Interaction with the town and area communities allows them to spread their wings, pursue interests off campus, provide valuable services and gain an understanding of community outside the college.
FROM THE WASHINGTON POST
By 12 former Army captains
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; 12:00 AM
Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.
As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out.
What does Iraq look like on the ground? It's certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.
Iraq's institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.
By Angelo Lynn
Area residents against any outside development in Middlebury must think the sky is falling.
Within just the past couple of weeks, Middlebury has seen applications to develop a 2,400-square-foot Starbucks coffee house, a 15,000-square-foot Staples, and now a 17,000-square-foot warehouse type building for an Aldi discount food store, plus 4,200 square feet to be leased for commercial/retail uses. Add that to the prospect of Aldi building another office building on an adjacent lot in the future, and the prospect of a 40,000-square-foot commercial building in the downtown behind the Ilsley Library (see stories Page 1A) and that’s a whole lot of change coming down the pike in a hurry.
But is the sky falling down or is this managed growth?
To be fair, the prospects of growth within The Centre Plaza, where Hannafords is located, have always been contemplated. And certainly town officials and residents have been anticipating for the past couple of years some commercial enterprise replacing the dilapidated car wash next to McDonald’s. And to the extent that The Centre Plaza has had the capacity to expand on its existing lot — or could achieve that with adjoining land acquisition — it’s not beyond the pale to believe the town has anticipated a full build-out of that property since its original application.
An undated Associated Press file photo of a Starbucks Coffee Shop in California. This photo is not representative of all Starbucks, nor is it necessarily a rendition of how a Middlebury Starbucks will look.
Chalk one up for the governor. He successfully killed the Legislature’s session-long effort to pass legislation that would have helped Vermont residents reduce their dependence on foreign oil, save money on their fuel bills, and reduce the state’s carbon dioxide emissions that are accelerating global warming. He did it by threatening to veto progressive legislation the Democrats proposed throughout the session, and only offering a half-baked counter proposal after the session ended. Worse, during the past several weeks when legislators were scrambling to craft a compromise with the governor and save the best initiatives of the bill, he refused to budge.
Partisans on both sides of the political aisle in Vermont might wonder why members of either party would want to push raising the income tax as a means of funding education. That, however, is what House Democrats are considering and what Gov. James Douglas has pounced on as if it were a political softball for him to slug out of the park.
The proposal by House Democrats and some House Republicans is simply to reduce the property tax burden on people’s homes and replace it with a higher personal income tax. The theory is simple: the income tax reflects a person’s ability to pay the tax better than a tax on one’s property. Without a doubt, that is true.
But that’s not the issue. The perception of hiking the income tax is the issue to this governor, as is the prospect of creating a tax scenario that could increase overall education spending. It doesn’t even matter if the net tax effect is neutral: what matters is that Vermont would hike its income tax and the governor thinks the perception of increased taxes might discourage businesses and individuals from locating here.
As the war in Iraq continues to deteriorate, civil war looms closer on the horizon and the military progress in Iraq is falling far short of President Bush’s own modest goals, it is clear to nearly everyone but this president and a handful of his advisors that it is time to devise another strategy in Iraq.
Diplomacy with allies in the region is one answer, though the collapse of a central power that can provide a modicum of safety for Iraqi residents presents a huge hurdle to overcome. As U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker said late last week, fear now dominates the landscape. “If there is one word I would use to sum up the atmosphere in Iraq — on the streets, in the countryside, in the neighborhoods and at the national level — that word would be fear.”