A Better Way?
At a recent meeting at the Champlain Elementary School, there was no dialogue to speak of [Off Message: "Champlain Parkway Reviewed at 'Unexpectedly Civil' Meeting," December 1]. It was clear the $30 million, 2.5-mile road is a fait accompli, which means something that has been done and cannot change.
I would like to propose a creative alternative that would take cars off the road, cut carbon pollution, and move people in and out of the city with ease. A light-rail system following the route of the Champlain Parkway would begin at Route 7 and Interstate 189 — and connect at some point to the current train tracks around the Barge Canal — moving people into the city. Car parking would be provided at Route 7. The large Kmart parking lot has plenty of room for cars and future housing. Why not?
Light-rail would run every 10 minutes from one end to the other. There would be a few bus spurs downtown, which would move people east to city hall, Church Street, UVM and the hospital complex. Burlington would become a city of the future, not dependent on horseless carriages for moving people around.
If light-rail doesn't work now, perhaps it could work in the future? In the meantime, electric buses could transport folks from Shelburne Road into the city along the Parkway with an added lane on the western edge of Pine Street around the Barge Canal. Perhaps it's not too late.
Report Is Wrong
Seven Days cites a study purporting to show that marijuana-related driving fatalities in Colorado rose by 32 percent in 2014 ["Will Highway Safety Put the Brakes on Legalizing Pot in Vermont?," December 9]. The so-called "increase" is primarily due to the fact that for 2013, fatalities were counted as "marijuana-related" if the driver had a THC level of 2 nanograms, but then in 2014 anyone with a THC level of just 1 nanogram was counted. That's not an increase — it's counting two different things!
Further, Colorado's standard for drugged driving is actually 5 nanograms, calling into question whether a majority of the drivers tested, whether at 1 or 2 nanograms, were under the influence of marijuana at all — particularly as THC can remain in the bloodstream for weeks after the effects have worn off.
It's unfortunate that this sort of shameless, politically motivated statistical manipulation continues to be aired.
Editor's note: The story did include challenges to Colorado's "32 percent" study. Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project characterized it as the "misleading" work of anti-legalization interests.
The thought of 700-plus units going into the Burlington College backland has obviously touched a pretty raw nerve with a lot of city residents, including me [Off Message: "Agreement Reached for Former Burlington College Property," December 3; Off Message: "Redstone Pitches Large Apartment Building in Old North End," October 29]. I would hope that the Development Review Board, being the final possible hope, would either decline Eric Farrell's proposal or at least severely curtail it. (And now, another not-needed overdevelopment at the foot of North Street? I would hope that this one gets the boot immediately).
When does the shoehorning of housing into every spare piece of open land end around here? This town is far from the Burlington I grew up in, all due to overcrowding, overused roads and infrastructure, and the false belief that we have to provide housing (cheap or otherwise) to everybody who sets foot here. At least, that's what the developers would have us believe, when in fact, they are only in it for one reason: money. You know it; I know it. Please, make it stop, before it's too late.
Little Houses, Big Changes
[Nest: "Tiny in the City," December 16; WTF: "What's With All the Tiny Houses in Burlington?" May 6]: I remember seeing that North Avenue building as a store when I was young. Perhaps you didn't know that across the street in the south corner of the Star Press building was a very tiny store, as well. Someone told me that the mother of the Star Press owner ran it. After the store closed permanently, I used to peek in the window at the candy bars, which weren't removed for years following the closure [WTF: "What Goes On in the Dusty Old Star Press on North Avenue?" September 28, 2011]. Interesting stuff, indeed, for those of us old enough to remember what Burlington used to look like.
Happy 'Off Trail'
I loved Ethan de Seife's most recent article about the Barr Hill Natural Area ["Magic Forest," December 16] with photos by Tristan Von Duntz. It's a pleasure to read Ethan's great descriptions of the trails, the landscape and the natural history of the area. His writing transported me out there, walking in the woods instead of sitting inside at home on a dark, snowless evening. Looking forward to more in the "Off Trail" series.
[Re Off Message: "GOP Wants to Stop Carbon Tax, Which Isn't Moving," October 30]: The chair of the Vermont Republican Party, David Sunderland, is at it again, claiming that Democrats are pushing an $0.88 tax on working Vermonters. This is absolutely untrue. That is a proposal, a part of a bill, one of 509, that has been introduced in the Vermont House of Representatives. Far from being "fast-tracked," before it ever saw the light of day, there would need to be assurances that working Vermonters would not be hurt, that there would be a long-term, phased-in approach. And it would have to involve a multistate approach.
This is Sunderland using scare tactics to try to shut down debate on climate change. He has said "there's science on both sides of the issue." He knows, and 80 percent of Vermonters know, that there is no credible scientist denying climate change. He is trying ever so gingerly to back off his and the Republican Party's increasingly absurd and indefensible denials. This strategy has a name. It's called "walking it back."
If climate change wasn't so important and urgent, it would be very entertaining to watch the climate-change deniers contort themselves into impossible positions. It reminds me of the game Twister — a bunch of kids contorting their bodies into hilarious positions. But climate change isn't a children's game. If it were, Sunderland would be winning.