An Even More Serious 'Historic Blunder'
While Seven Days has just provided important reporting on the Ira Allen Chapel ["Historic Blunder? State Halts Repairs to UVM's Ira Allen Chapel," January 30], an even more serious historic preservation blunder goes virtually unnoticed. While state historic preservation officer Laura Trieschmann is now up in arms about the University of Vermont's actions and the creation of "false history," she is helping destroy the historic character of Burlington's City Hall Park — which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Trieschmann wrote to the Burlington Development Review Board last year that she found no harm in dismantling City Hall Park's historic central oval and fountain, which have served as the hub of radiating pathway spokes for some 150 years. She also had no problem with this key historic feature of the park being replaced by a characterless splash pad and jet sprays.
I'm not saying the damage done to Ira Allen Chapel is unimportant. But to me, at least, the much more significant loss to Burlington's heritage can be found in the irreparable damage that will soon be done to historic City Hall Park.
'Inflammatory' Park Story
[Re Off Message: "Burlington City Council Refuses to Put Park Question on March Ballot," January 29]: I believe this headline is inaccurate, adversarial and inflammatory. The council didn't refuse the measure. It didn't pass because two councilors felt the language in it wasn't neutral, and Keep the Park Green chose not to rephrase it.
The first line of the story — "Queen City voters will not get a chance to weigh in on the future of City Hall Park" — is also inaccurate. Voters have had plenty of opportunity to be involved and weigh in on the design of the park already — and many, including myself, have indeed.
"The mayor urged the council to 'make a decision on this park once and for all.'" It does not say that the mayor also told us that this has been a long and protracted effort by multiple government offices, which have been working thoughtfully, doggedly and diligently, using taxpayers' money, for about six years, and that delaying the project any further is to rebuff their efforts and the democratic process already followed, as well as to incur additional taxpayers' costs.
This is a contentious issue, as it is. To have our reporters use language that jabs a wedge of contentiousness deeper between the opposing parties is not only disingenuous but detrimental to our discourse; it also makes us leery of our reporting media. We disagree enough already. Please avoid such adversarial and inflammatory language and try to stick to accurate and neutral reporting. As in: "Keep the Park Green Fails Bid to Put Park Question in March Ballot."
CityPlace: Let the Work Continue!
[Re Off Message: "CityPlace Partner Assures Council That Project Will Move Forward," January 22]: Vermont Interfaith Action has watched with concern the struggles of developer Don Sinex to move forward with his ambitious dream to replace the aging Burlington mall. After listening to community input and adapting his plans in accord with community wishes and finally gaining approval by the city and voters, the project has been beset by one problem after another.
Polluted soil made excavation for the underground parking garage prohibitively costly. Asbestos discovered in the roof of the old mall caused delays and added costs. And lawsuits and other action by a group of disgruntled opponents caused further delays. No wonder his financing partners had concerns that slowed the process further. Another man might have thrown in the towel in despair!
Vermont Interfaith Action's board of directors has supported CityPlace Burlington from the beginning for two simple reasons: It will increase the number of housing units (especially affordable units), and it will significantly stimulate the Burlington economy. We met with a group of opponents to the project, some of whom belonged to our member congregations, and listened to their concerns. However, we remained steadfast in our support.
Especially now that the old mall and parking garage have been demolished, leaving only a hole in the ground, we urge all concerned to let the work proceed without further obstacle.
William B. Thompson
Thomas is board president of Vermont Interfaith Action.
Still Trying to Cancel My Free Press
The "Media Notes" section of Fair Game [January 23] speculates that changes at the Burlington Free Press happened because Gannett "needs to cut printing costs." Columnist John Walters proposes that the "Free Press just gave you one more reason to cancel your print subscription."
If only it were so easy.
I tried to cancel my subscription. I went to the website, but there is no place to cancel.
So I called the customer service number. The wait was 29 minutes. When a representative finally answered, I gave her my account number; she could not find the account in her system. Then I gave her my name; she still couldn't find me. Then I gave her two phone numbers. Then my address. Still nothing. Eventually she found the account using my email address.
At that point I was about 50 minutes into the call. I told her I wanted to cancel. She said she is not authorized to cancel subscriptions. She could take my name and contact information and give it to "a dedicated team," which will contact me about cancellation. I asked for contact information for the dedicated team in case I don't hear from them; she said she is not permitted to give that information. A week later, I have not heard from "the team."
I will add to Fair Game's speculation. Either Gannett suffers from overarching mismanagement or it's padding its subscription numbers by not letting subscribers depart in order to boost the price from a buyout suitor.
Seems like a lead for some investigative journalism...