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Opinion: Middlebury Town Office vote is democratic

A lot of people have asked me why we are voting again on Article 6 (now Article 1) as we have already passed it. It is legal to revote on something (just one time) if 5 percent of the voters sign a petition that is presented within 30 days of the original vote. In this case 230 legal voters needed to sign such a petition. This is democracy and while it isn’t perfect or easy, it is the best system out there.
For clarification, Article 1 (previous Article 6) reads:
“Shall general obligation bonds of the Town of Middlebury in an amount not to exceed Six Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($6,500,000), subject to reduction from available alternate sources of funding, be issued for the purpose of financing construction of (1) a town office building on the so-called Osborne House site, and (2) public recreation and athletic facilities on Creek Road, the total estimated cost of such improvements being Six Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($6,500,000), with the Town’s portion of the construction cost estimated at Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000)?”
A “yes” answer still means that the article will pass and the new town offices will be built on the Osborne House site in downtown Middlebury, a new recreation facility will be built at Creek Road, the old municipal building/gymnasium site will be transformed into a park, and the college will fund $4.5 million toward building the project and an additional $1 million ($5.5 million total) toward removing old buildings and constructing the park leaving the taxpayers of Middlebury a $2 million balance.
A “no” answer means that we continue discussing options for new town offices and recreation facilities as we have done for over 20 years and we forgo any funding assistance ($5.5 million) from the college, thus leaving the entire amount of construction to the taxpayers of Middlebury. That exact amount will have to be determined but we realistically know that it will be in the $6.5 million range fully funded by Middlebury taxpayers.
I am still staunchly supporting this project. It provides town offices that are energy efficient and attractive in the heart of Middlebury. It solves a problem for many groups and students who use the Creek Road recreation fields by providing a safe place to go, team changing rooms and bathrooms, as well as flexible space to be used by the whole community.
It also brings more recreation opportunities to a different part of Middlebury and there exists chances to expand the facility on the proposed site. It continues to provide space at no cost to users for the teens and the “senior” bi-weekly lunch program and foot clinic. It builds a lovely park for all to enjoy that will connect the college and the town. All of this with the taxpayers only funding $2 million. A “win-win” for all.
We are now obligated to again vote on this article. A special town meeting will be held on Monday, May 12, at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium with the Australian ballot voting on Tuesday, May 13.
Nancy Malcolm
Middlebury
 

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