Opinion: State slow in explaining Middlebury Airport project

I am writing to follow up on Richard and Isabelle Terk’s letter in the April 2 edition, “Airport proposal has many flaws.” I’m going to suggest an additional flaw in the project. That is, no one in our community — including neighbors, selectboard members, airport employees, and pilots — seems to know the full scope of technical and financial details of the project.
You might wonder how so many intelligent and concerned local people have come away knowing so little about such a big deal. The answer is that Agency of Transportation has failed to provide full and consistent information about the nature of the project. Was this deliberate? One would like to think not but, well, something here isn’t right.
The answer to this dilemma would be for the Agency of Transportation to hold an informational meeting open to the whole community. Put everyone in the same room at the same time, and have everyone talk to one another. To the credit of the AOT, such a meeting was scheduled to be held in March. But then we were notified the meeting would be postponed and rescheduled for May 19. Not a big problem, right? We’re Vermonters, we travel in the slow lane, so what’s the hurry?
Well, to their discredit, it turns out the Agency of Transportation went ahead anyway and put funding for the project into this year’s state budget. While they were postponing our meeting, they were requesting money for the project from the Legislature. How much funding? As of this writing, that’s one of the questions to which no one can get a straight answer.
Plus, by the time May 19 rolls around, there’s a good chance the budget will already be passed and on the governor’s desk. That means that by the time anyone around here has a chance to learn and review the facts, our tax dollars (of some unclear amount) will already be paying for a project about which no one local knows the full story.
I propose that no one should support or oppose the project because we don’t yet know all the facts. Let’s get the details, all of them, before making up our minds. Planning and process should precede funding or, eventually, all these flaws are sure to hit the fan.
Prem Prakash

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