June 24, 2019

Letters to the Editor

Build a new school

The proposal to put an admittedly badly needed $20 million into Williston Central School may be a failure to think long-term, as well as a missed opportunity. The existing structure, even if renovated, will still be a hodgepodge of ideas patched together from 1949 to 1991, with poor traffic flow, placed in an inconvenient part of town.

A new structure, placed near Taft Corners, perhaps where the pipeline staging area is now, would offer the opportunity to build a state-of-the-art, energy efficient school that could serve our communities for many decades to come. Further, at that location, a new school would offer the ability to create proper traffic flow and would be in close proximity to Allen Brook School, as well as emergency services. Yes, a new school will cost more up-front, however, it offers the best long-term solution to our needs.

The old school could be repurposed and used as a combination facility. Our town offices could be relocated there. We could use some of the space to create a badly needed community center. The auditorium could be used for public meetings and other performances. We could relocate Dorothy Alling Memorial Library into those spaces. The possibilities are endless.

The existing town offices are ancient and in need of renovation. The bill will be coming due for that as well, unless we look at the broader picture and optimize our facilities for the long haul.

I encourage the school board and community writ large to take a one-year pause and give this project further consideration. There is no hurry. One year will not cause the project to fail in any way and will give us time to make the best-informed decisions we can.

Short of that, I encourage everyone to vote no on this initiative.

Steve Lambrecht,
Williston

Editor’s note: In the Sept. 22 article, “$19.8 M needed to fix WCS” the paper noted that after this year, any funding of major improvements to schools within the unified Champlain Valley School District, such as repairs or rebuilding WCS, would need to be approved by all the other communities that comprise the new district: St. George, Charlotte, Hinesburg and Shelburne.

Electrify the economy

Efforts to significantly reduce carbon pollution between now and 2050 are vital and feasible. Electrifying transportation and the heating of residential and commercial buildings will help reduce carbon pollution because the electric grid is getting cleaner each year. This creates a huge opportunity for rural economic development.

Most renewable energy is generated in wide-open spaces outside of dense urban centers. New job opportunities come with every new megawatt of wind or solar built in rural areas. In the wind industry, new jobs mean solid middle-class incomes, with an average salary of $46,077. Renewable energy also increases the tax base and provides direct payments to landowners.

Moreover, opportunities for clean energy sector growth are significant. U.S. consumers spent over $200 billion on gasoline in 2015. When you consider that, in the context of moving transportation toward electric fuel, this translates into a $200 billion rural economic development opportunity.

In order to reach this level of clean electricity production, we will need wind and solar at all scales. We need public policy to drive forward the boom in home-, farm- and business-scale solar. We also need models that better support community-scale renewable projects.

And, we must continue the transformation of utility-scale electricity production from fossil fuels to renewables. This will mean additional utility-scale wind farms and solar projects and the transmission infrastructure to carry these renewables from rural areas to urban markets.

Brian Depew,
Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs

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