Consider facility cost and location
I support the concept of the proposed Williston Public Works building; however, I question a few details. First, the cost. Williston seems to often be of the opinion that we must have the best of everything, such as the large fire and police stations. A building for the storage of trucks and related road maintenance equipment is just a large garage. Such a building can be quite cost effectively built as a steel framed and sheathed structure. It will need some human amenities for the hard working crews, but not in excess. It will need to be partially heated, though I imagine a lot of cold storage will suffice. Also a building of this style can be easily expanded over time as needs and budgets allow, therefore no over building for the future is required.
Second, the location on the edge of town. Though much better than its current spot, why not choose a more central location for ease of access to all corners of town, especially in winter plowing? Most gravel roads requiring grader work are at the other end of town. Choose a spot on an existing road so a new road does not need to be built, saving upfront and long-term maintenance cost. Why delete the IBM location from taxable property when it may have good potential for development? I believe the town owns some acreage by the fire station which was part of the farm originally there, what about that as an option? Can the Observer publish some basic plans to show the basics of the new building and scope of the new road? Yes, I support the concept of a new public works facility, but only if it respects the cost to taxpayers and is economically priced and logically sited.
Response to carpooling letter
While I respect and encourage the voice of the younger generation (especially as a member myself), I find Mr. Peterson’s letter on green parking at CVU to be ignorant, naïve and judgmental.
I graduated from CVU five years ago and know how diverse the economic backgrounds of the students are. Not every family can afford to send their child to school in what it appears Mr. Peterson would deem as an appropriate ride. I drove both “a gas guzzling SUV” and “an old sedan with poor fuel economy” when I was in my later years at CVU because that’s what my family had for me to drive. I was lucky to have anything: many students do not have this privilege, and if they do are limited to what their families are willing to let them drive, which are usually older vehicles.
Even if a student has the economic means to purchase his own car, most high school budgets hardly allow for “green” vehicles, with the average cost being anywhere between $23,000 to over $50,000. I certainly did not have that back then: I’m not even sure if I could comfortably afford that now as a college grad. Carpooling is excellent, but not everyone has a neighbor or parent(s) with an “environmentally-friendly” car to use at their discretion.
There is also an element of logic that is missing here: just because your car is an older model or an SUV does not automatically mean poor gas mileage. A good driver with an older car can get much better mpg than a lead-footed driver with a brand new one. Let’s not assume how one drives based on what they drive.
The issue here is not the idea: it’s the assumptions and judgments made about those the idea affects.
Consider the last two times you drove in a car. Were you riding with another person? How fuel-efficient was the vehicle? How far did you go?
Often, the answers to these questions can be discouraging. The average vehicle occupancy of cars in Vermont is only 1.08 persons per car, traveling an average of 46 minutes per day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average fuel efficiency of U.S. cars sold in 2012 is 23.8 miles per gallon.
As a student of Champlain Valley Union High School, I’m keenly aware of this issue. Around 400 juniors and seniors drive themselves to school each morning and drive home at the end of the day in relatively inefficient cars, and carpooling is surprisingly scarce.
Changing one’s driving habits is a relatively easy way to avoid unnecessary fill-ups. Simply organizing with someone and carpooling can not only protect the environment, but also save money. In order to encourage more efficient driving habits, I am attempting to implement several hybrid/electric vehicle parking spaces in the CVU parking lot. Similar spaces have already been implemented in parking lots of many businesses and universities throughout the country.
In addition to being seen as an environmentally friendly campus, hybrid/EV parking spaces would encourage CVU students to be more conscientious of their driving habits. I urge you to contact the school with your support.
LEDs for Williston businesses
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are a highly efficient and cost-effective alternative to compact fluorescent lights. They can save up to 75 percent on energy bills and last several times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs. LEDs are highly directional, meaning they emit light only in the direction they are pointed. This reduces light pollution, making them a great choice for exterior lighting. In addition, they are highly sensitive to controls and work well with timers and motion sensors.
2013 is an ideal time for businesses in Williston to upgrade their lighting. Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, building owners and tenants can offset the cost of interior and exterior lighting upgrades by up to 60 cents per square foot. This deduction expires at the end of 2013. Efficiency Vermont also offers several rebates for businesses switching to both interior and exterior LED fixtures. All rebates mandate that the products used be Energy Star certified, which ensures that all fixtures will be high quality. Overall, LEDs are the best lighting option available for Williston businesses.
Ridesharing can cut emissions
Each day, hundreds of students and faculty members of CVU drive their own individual vehicles to CVU. This is a waste of both energy and money spent in gas. If each student at CVU carpooled with one other person to school, that would cut the amount of CO2 emissions in half. If CVU designed a rideshare service for the students and faculty of the school, it would save money in gas, put less cars on the road every morning (less traffic), and would also promote energy efficiency at CVU. Go Vermont is a state run organization that deals with transportation in the state. Carpooling is one of the services that the organization covers. By partnering with Zimride (a nationwide carpooling database that matches drivers with other people in their area), Go Vermont matches a driver with carpoolers in the area in order to set up a rideshare. We would like to bring this carpooling service to CVU for the use of students and faculty. Getting involved is quite simple. Right now, we just ask that any student or faculty member of CVU take the online survey (posted on the CVU website) so that we know that we have interest in the idea. We will then let respondents know more information once the rideshare program is put in place.
More on ridesharing
More than 90 percent of people in Vermont drive to work by themselves every day. With transportation being the biggest factor in Vermont’s carbon footprint, it is time for a viable solution. Just a few weeks ago, an organization called Go Vermont partnered with Zimride to bring a ridesharing solution to the entire state of Vermont. Vermont is the first state to have a statewide ridesharing program through Zimride. The service lets you check if anyone needs a ride nearby or if you need one, you can check the drivers that are headed your way. It also has a very useful feature which allows you to set a schedule of when you need and/or can give rides. It allows carpooling to be “cool” again and that is what is needed to reduce Vermont’s carbon footprint. With more than 4,000 users already, the site is growing quickly. You too can jump in on this great opportunity—whether you are headed to Church Street or New York City there is always a chance that someone else will be heading that way. You can also choose how much you would like people to pay for your ride. A local high school has opted into becoming a subgroup of Go Vermont. By offering incentives to the students, CVU hopes to reduce its carbon emissions by getting its student body to carpool. Take advantage of this excellent technology and be part of a nationwide movement! Head over to connectingcommuters.org for more info.