Letters to the Editor

Frustrated with Planning Commission

I am very frustrated with the Planning Commission in regards to the rezoning of Pine Ridge School. It appears to me that Maple Leaf Farm has the ear of the commission. Maple Leaf Farm’s claim of substantial benefit has been strongly challenged. The soccer field is not wanted by the recreation department and keeping open spaces open was not enough according to previous statements by Jake Mathon, a member of the committee.

I am frustrated because the people of Sunrise at French Hill don’t seem to matter. Even Jim McCullough called our concerns “nimbly.” Several times I tried to see if there was a way to create a safe path for our neighbors to walk and ride to the village. I was turned down by the head of Public Works Department. Now there is interest in walking paths in our area? Our kids play in the woods around our neighborhood, which is our common land. Walk the trails with us and tell me where the boundary is between our common land and Pine Ridge’s. I have had plans for my son and his friends to build a lean-to in this area, but have held on to it because of first the state’s interest for a mental hospital and now Maple Leaf Farm’s intentions. One of my neighbors has stated that she will no longer feel comfortable walking her dog in the woods if Maple Leaf Farm moves in. The people who use these paths the most will no longer feel comfortable doing so.

Pine Ridge School is surrounded by houses. Maple Leaf Farm is not a spa. The director has admitted to patients being drunk on the grounds and of a patient walking off the grounds and into someone’s house. These are my nimbly concerns, I hope someone is listening.

Karen Allen


CVS, please turn off your lights

Dear CVS,

Welcome to Williston. I must ask, what is the purpose of that rim of lights atop your store? As the fifth pharmacy to come to our town, are you hoping to shine above all others? If so, you do, but perhaps not in the light you intended. Please consider the following.

While your lights were glowing over Williston last week, the Vermont Legislature listened to Bill McKibben describe the accelerating pace of climate change and make a compelling case for energy efficiency and conservation. Meanwhile, Vermonters debated the pros and cons of ridgeline wind development as part of our energy future. We surely need to move away from fossil fuel sources of energy, but one can hardly justify another mountaintop turbine so that your store can light up the night.

You are contributing to light pollution, a brightening of the night sky that can have negative consequences for wildlife, human health and safety, natural resources and our ability to stand in our yards and appreciate the Milky Way.

Although Williston is often associated with its retail stores, we are also a community of people, many of whom value natural beauty over the built environment. So here’s some neighborly advice, or perhaps a plea. Turn off your rooftop lights. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint, protect natural resources and be a better aesthetic fit for our town. As an added bonus, see what it does to your electric bill!

Lynn Zanardi Blevins


Dissections not needed at CVU

When I realized that the CVU School Board was reconsidering its policy of animal dissection next week, I felt complied to write. As a resident of Williston, I am stunned that CVU is still employing the outdated practice of animal dissection, even as the school promotes compassion and tolerance.

Perhaps at one time, many years ago, dissection was an important part of the learning process; however, times have changed and advances in technology have made this practice antiquated. Now, there are many, many programs that approximate a dissection; there is simply no need to actually cut into a once-living being.

When CVU teacher Dave Ely taught AP biology for so many years, he did not use dissection, and his students were highly successful. Since he retired, technology has made even greater strides, making dissection even less relevant. This technology, including online virtual dissections, not only trumps dissection in terms of learning and ethics, it is also less expensive, an important point in these days of budget cuts.

CVU prides itself on being forward thinking and on the cutting edge of progressive education. This is a perfect opportunity to make the compassionate, cost-effective decision to stop dissection in the classroom and move forward toward more humane science practices.

Karen Sturtevant


Dissection alternatives win-win

I would like to thank the Champlain Valley Union High School board members for considering ending the use of animals such as frogs and cats in their biology class. Instead, the students would be learning the same information and skills using only leading-edge computer technology, which is both an effective and humane alternative to animal dissection.

Studies have shown this technology actually improves the learning experience and understanding of the material and better prepares students to use these methods, which are currently being used at many colleges.

What a win-win-win situation this would be for CVU, the students and the animals, all while saving money as these computer programs are available free of charge to schools.

Sharon MacNair,
Green Mountain Animal Defenders president



Burdensome town government

This morning at approximately 7:20 I was surprised to see a Williston plow go by my house. This was remarkable since I had just retrieved the newspaper from the mailbox and noted the merest dusting (less than ½ inch) on the walk. Last week’s Observer contained a letter from a reader taking issue with Williston’s exaggerated response to certain routine matters including repeated and unnecessary sorties by full-sized fire department apparatus (“Issues with our fire department,” Jan. 31). In the past I have witnessed many instances where full-sized fire trucks were employed for the routine purpose of inspecting small piles of brush for which I required a burn permit. These inspections had previously been attended to by Williston’s duly appointed fire warden, at little or no cost to the taxpayer.

In recent years, I have witnessed the most routine of municipal matters consuming increasing amounts of process and documentation (signs, for example) at great expense to both applicant and administration.

Our community has certainly seen a proliferation of very large municipal buildings (police and fire), vehicles (the number of police and fire vehicles is astonishing) and services for which there is scant evidence that the public demands. It is little wonder that our property taxes are anticipated to grow at more than twice the inflation rate.

It seems to this individual that Williston might be characterized as “of the government, by the government and for the government.”

Peter Judge


Ten more cents

The Selectboard has approved next year’s budget, a 4.4 percent increase over this year’s. Property tax has been increased almost 5 percent, by 1.15 cents per $100 of assessed property value—$11.50 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

The proposed budget for next year was actually larger than what the Selectboard eventually approved. The final budget had $79,410 cut from it. This extra would have gone to: the Environmental Reserve Fund; new public-sector jobs and extended hours for current public-sector employees, among other things. Two of the positions not added were full-time firefighter/EMTs; a police position that would have been for the whole year was cut to half a year.

The cost to taxpayers of that not-quite $80,000? Ten extra cents per $100,000 of assessed property value.

The excuse that “people have been suffering economically” just doesn’t hold water. Even for a home worth a million dollars, the difference is just one dollar. Furthermore, in hard economic times it is the duty of government to spend more, not less. What do Ingram and Roy think about those they are not hiring next year? What about their “economic suffering?” Will these pennies not taxed contribute more to the local economy than adding more jobs would have?

I would happily pay ten cents more to maintain adequate support of my community’s economy, environment and public safety.

Jacob September