November 28, 2014

Letter to the Editor

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Maple Leaf Farm helps our neighbors

I am compelled to rebut the esteemed Dr. Nesbit’s remarks in the Dec. 13 Observer regarding Maple Leaf Farm locating in Williston.

I’m grieved by the “yes, we need this, but not in my backyard; perhaps we can hide the project deep in the forest… maybe out of our town… hidden from our conscience, anywhere but here” attitude. This is, at best, fear based through ignorance; at worst, prejudice (re: this issue) toward a significant universe of people from every walk of life.

Since 1956, Maple Leaf Farm has served over 28,000 people from throughout Vermont and about 14,000 people from Chittenden County. Numbers from each town vary each year, but last year Maple Leaf Farm served eight people from Williston. Many of us have moms, dads, relatives and friends (if not ourselves) who have directly benefitted from counseling at Maple Leaf Farm. These numbers explode when adding the lives of all those changed lives.

Maple Leaf Farm is not a prison, it’s a treatment program. Residents are there voluntarily and have medical staff, counselors and supervisors available 24/7. Patients are involved in a rigorous program that runs from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Even recreation is supervised. Schools and the Interstate are two to four miles away. No patient in the program has threatened a child in its 56-year history.

The proposed site at Pine Ridge is indeed “a serene setting,” very conducive to rehabilitation and renewal of the spirit. There are walking trails, brooks meander between steep ridges, mature forest is complemented with lush wetlands. All combine to assuage and renew the spirit. Maple Leaf Farm’s proposed location is indeed a magical spot that has served many others with special needs.

I have faith in our Williston Planning Commission. They understand the difference between NIMBY concerns and what is legally provided for.

Jim McCullough

Williston

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