To all my readers, but especially to those in Waterbury:
Pardon the specific issue advocacy in this post, but Waterbury is facing an important decision this month. It is important for you to be aware of an important vote coming up very quickly, and I think it is incumbent that I share you why I think it is the culmination of the most important time we’ve experienced in Waterbury in several generations.
It’s been almost 2 years since Irene. Two years of cleaning and crying, two years of rebuilding and recommitting to our community. I have watched my neighbors, my town and my state rise up, work together, cut the red tape, clean and rebuild in a way that can only happen during a serious crisis
We got hit hard by Irene, and a lot of people lost a lot in that storm. But we have gained so much. We learned a lot about ourselves, and about each other. We have seen just how strong we are, how connected we are, how deeply the Vermont spirit runs through our community. We’ve taken care of each other and we’ve stayed focused on rebuilding our homes, our business community and our civic center
And now the time has come to vote on that civic center, the most visible symbol of Waterbury’s rebirth.
We’re building back stronger in the heart of downtown, centering our library and town services in an energy-efficient, welcoming and friendly building. Is $5 million a lot of money? It sure is, and you should learn what the costs are, and why they are the way they are, and you should make sure your voice is heard. On the other hand, it is a $7.8 million project, we have our insurance money, a $1 million grant and the expected proceeds of the sale of the library and existing municipal building.
This vote has been a long time coming. For nearly two years the elected officials and volunteer boards and the Long-Term Recovery Committee have worked their butts off, negotiating with the State and FEMA, figuring out the financing, developing a plan that will meet multiple needs and move us to a new level of municipal and community services. There’s a wealth of details on the town website – go look for yourself — and there are upcoming, weekly informational meetings, so you can get all your questions answered.
It’s important to know the details — informed decision-making is essential to democracy. But it’s also important to remember the big picture. We are not just voting to individually spend a couple hundred bucks a year on bond payments — we are voting collectively to Believe in Waterbury.
We’re making an investment in what we value, in our downtown and the services we need to have a thriving economy and vibrant community life. And we are not making an investment to bring us back to what we were, with the same level of excellent services being delivered from substandard spaces — we are going to make our town better than it was by taking advantage of this one-time opportunity to upgrade everything about our town that is essential. And when we are done, we will have built a complex that will last for generations to come.
This is what resilience looks like.
I’m so proud that our community has gotten this far — many of our neighbors have not been so lucky. Not a day went by during this past legislative session with someone asking me “how’s Waterbury doing?” And I told them the truth: we’re doing great, but we’re tired and we need to move on to the next chapters. For us it will be supporting this bond and building a new municipal complex. At the same time, the State will be building a new office campus and will be rebuilding Main Street. When the end of 2015 rolls around, we will have completed the largest municipal and largest state building project ever.
And now it’s time to take it all the way. Voting starts on Friday June 7 at the Town Office (Fire Station, upstairs) and the last day to vote is June 27. We’ve got to spread the word! Go to the town website for ALL the information, and go to Facebook and “like” the Believe in Waterbury page. Go to the public hearings. The first one is June 6 from 7-8:30 at Thatcher Brook Primary School.
Tell your friends, talk to your neighbors, and make sure you get everyone you can out to vote YES this month. This is our visible commitment to a strong community, and we need to make our support known. Believe in Waterbury with me.
Thank you, for all you have done for this community.
Together we are making a wonderful place for many people to live, work, grow up and grow old. This month’s vote is one more chance to show our commitment to making this community great for the next 250 years.