Vote No for Town Hall Center, blueprints and bond

To the Editor:

I petition the residents of Sunderland to reject the proposed town hall center when they vote on March 4th and 5th.

Please vote no on Article 16 on Town Meeting night to reject the design submitted by the architect and on voting day, and vote no on the issue of taking out a bond to pay for this building's construction.

I ask from the position as a select board member, from a professional standpoint as a construction contractor and I ask you to vote no as a tax payer in Sunderland.

As a selectboard member I do not believe that the residents should have only a few short hours at town meeting to express their opinion on the blueprints for this building.

I believe there should have been a survey sent out by the building committee and the selectboard asking the residents of Sunderland for their input on the proposed blueprints. I realize this would have been a lot of work to sift through all the different ideas and opinions, but to me the job should have been done. I failed as selectboard chair in not monitoring the building committee; a selectboard created and appointed committee. I should have been aware much sooner that the committee had no intention of "going the extra mile" to include the town's people in the blueprint process.

By the time I became aware of this the rest of the board was voting to accept the blueprints as presented. My lack of oversight as chairman of the selectboard on the building committee was a mistake. That same old attitude: "enough time has been spent on this" prevailed and the blueprints were accepted without any of the changes asked for from a few residents.

As a construction contractor I ask Sunderland to reject this building design. It falls way short of the style of New England Architecture that a Vermont town of 200 years richly deserves. It could be far more energy efficient then is being proposed and far more receptive toward alternate sources of energy. The proposed estimation could have been sent out to trades people in our town as well as the surrounding area to see what they thought of not only the estimated cost but also of the various components of the building: heating system, windows, roof, flooring, siding, electrical components and more. The center's function room (not quite big enough for town meeting) of 22 x 35 increases the cost considerably and influences septic field size, parking lot size and in my opinion is poorly thought out.

In typical selectboard meetings with eight to 10 people present this room will have to be used consuming heat and energy expenses which are absolutely unnecessary. It may be a nice bingo room but do we want that? As a tax payer I ask you to reject this bond for the building. I am a trade's person, a blue collar worker and for me and for similar people in my class these times are economically difficult. Jobs are not abundant and the outlook this year does not show any promise of change. The Vermont House has just passed a 5 cent increase in statewide property taxes, they are looking to increase taxes on a number of different areas from gas tax, soda tax, and we still don't know the tax plan cost for single payer health care and god knows what else the legislature will come up with. Although there are those that claim my property taxes would rise just a little for this construction bond, when I consider all the other taxes that are being adjusted upwards, if I can control any one of them I would say no more increases.

This is not the time to ask for more property taxes for a construction bond. If it was for a bridge or something in our infrastructure that was absolutely needed, then that's another issue. But this is for a building we can do without right now and that in my opinion needs more planning and work before it is acceptable as Sunderland's Town Hall.

Joe Boutin Sunderland


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