Opinion: Middlebury selectboard has set an unfortunate tone
An open letter to the Middlebury Selectboard:
When you treat voters as participants to be consulted rather than obstacles to be managed, you foster a very different process from the one you created for the municipal site proposal. An open discussion that welcomes all views lends itself to respectful exchange of ideas and fruitful collaboration, even when opinions are strong and differ.
That is not what we have now, and the fault lies with your mishandling of this project from the start. Your heavy-handed, close-minded approach is responsible for the divisive nature of debate on this proposal and the ill will that has resulted (abetted by name-calling from this paper’s editorial columns).
A great many people I’ve spoken with object to the process more than the project. Some object only to the process and, in a more broadly inclusive environment, would have been able to consider the merits of the proposal itself.
Whether the bond vote fails or passes, there are important lessons in governance to be learned from this experience. I hope that all board members, both old and new, schedule time to attend to those lessons after March 4.
I’d like to suggest a series of post-vote public gripe sessions to clear the air, heal bad feelings, and develop a template on how to do better. Call it Middlebury’s Truth and Reconciliation process. The selectboard set the tone for this unfortunate situation; it can, and properly should, set the stage for neighbors to come together again for the good of our community.
Mark A. Nelson of Bristol
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