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Op-ed: Shameful tactics used to thwart town office plan

When I first read about the plans for the new town office building and gymnasium, I thought, “How exciting!” I never thought there would be any opposition to such wonderful additions to the town and to the elimination of that outdated eyesore. That is why I have found the negativity to this project to be mind-boggling.
And now, to make matters worse, it has turned into a vicious attack against Selectman Victor Nuovo. To insinuate that he is somehow in collusion with the college is an insult.
To manipulate the composition of the selectboard so that a minority of two becomes the majority is an outrage. It is time to bring this plan to a vote. If the citizens of Middlebury decide against it and are adamant about not giving up the “Heartland of Middlebury,” the only option would be to tear down the old burned-out high school and replace it with a simple, small one-story office building, which the town might be able to afford.
The gymnasium would be a thing of the past. After all, how many towns have their own public gymnasium? Pick-up basketball could be played on the outdoor court at the recreation field, which the critics are so upset about losing, or at Middlebury’s schools’ facilities when not in use. Town meetings could take place in one of the large new conference rooms of the fire station or ambulance service or, of course, in the high school auditorium. In most cities and towns across the USA, voting usually takes place in school buildings, so why not in Middlebury?
Other programs currently housed in the gymnasium might be able to find space in halls such as the American Legion or VFW. If this is not possible, these programs may have to be canceled. At least that would open up some parking spaces.
The library is already “hemmed in” by the Osborne House and cannot expand onto land it does not own. The college is not going to pay for a complex of new buildings on the current site, nor does it have an obligation to do so. The town cannot waste money renovating the ugly energy hogs, and it cannot afford to give the project critics everything they want.
Marilyn Needham
Middlebury

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