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Opinion: Middlebury board fails to give all the facts

So many have said in their letters or editorials regarding the municipal building and gym that there is a need to (1) focus on the facts and not personalities, and (2) conduct the discussion in civil discourse. We have seen how difficult that can be as sometimes, even in that letter or editorial, there has been other than factual, civil discourse. But I agree that we should continue to have that goal, and separate our feelings regarding the way the process has gone from information that will help us make the important decisions that lie ahead.
We voters are being asked to decide whether to (1) keep the present location for both buildings, remodeling the gym, (2) rebuild or remodel the town hall, or (3) build two new buildings on different sites. In order to vote intelligently, we need more information about the costs and the quality of the buildings for each choice. We seem to be getting it for number 3, but only incomplete estimates for work and energy savings for the other two.
Surprisingly, it was just over a year ago that the selectboard approved the town plan, which endorsed keeping the two buildings in their present places, saying, “The location and function (of the gym and town offices) offers an opportunity to create a landmark downtown asset with a visitor center, state of the art meeting spaces, public bathrooms, and community space, in addition to its current functions and emergency center.”
Only six months later, last June, we were surprised by an announcement from the selectboard that they were making a radically new recommendation: to sell the site and erect new buildings elsewhere. The pace of this process has been brisk. At least the vote has been moved to Town Meeting Day, so the selectboard will have time to get some more specifics about the proposed buildings.
So in less than two months we will vote on whether to get plans and costs for building/remodeling on the present site or move to two new sites. I wish we had more complete plans and costs for remaining in the present location now, but since we don’t, I hope that we vote “No” to selling the land to the college and building anew, and “Yes” to getting those plans and costs. If we get that information, we will then be able to make an informed decision about which of the two proposals is better for Middlebury.
Gerry Loney
Middlebury

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