Letter to the Editor
“It's not about what the library needs." Definitely not the words that a supporter of Ilsley Library wants to hear from a member of the Middlebury Board of Selectmen. Unfortunately that is just what Chairperson Dean George said at our meeting on Tuesday, July 9, 2013.
Our board had just received a detailed report from our colleague Victor Nuovo about the meeting that day of the New Town Offices and Recreation Center Steering Committee (the "committee"). Victor reported that committee members had a number of concerns about the town offices/recreation center project. The chief concerns expressed by committee representatives on behalf of Ilsley Library were a call for the architecture of the planned building to be harmonious with, and not "overshadow" the library, that any plan take into consideration the present need for an additional 6000 square feet of space, and that opportunities for future library expansion not be foreclosed upon by the design of the town office building.
Additionally, Victor told us that several committee members stated their desire that the town to take a "step back" and create a comprehensive plan for the current and future needs of the town offices, the library, and the Recreation Department. Also, one astute committee member noted that the project does not comply with the current Town Plan adopted on December 11, 2012.
Dean went on the explain that a majority of the board has, "...made it clear...the direction we want to go." He stated that these ideas were "distractions" that could lead to a delay in bringing the project to a vote. Clearly a significant portion of the committee does not think that the needs of Ilsley Library, the Recreation Department, and Mary Hogan School, have been given the consideration that they deserve. Elected officials lead best when they decide their course of action by listening to their constituents. As representatives of the people we must listen to citizen's concerns and respond thoughtfully to their input, adjusting our plans as needed.
I have made no secret of the fact that I do not support moving the town offices from their current site. But if the voters approve of this plan we need to erect our facilities in a cost effective manner so that they will last for several generations. Our Board of Selectmen should listen to our citizens and respond by fostering the creation of a comprehensive plan that takes into account the needs of all of the stakeholders.
Craig A. Bingham
Selectman for the Town of Middlebury