UVM History Lesson
[Re "Historic Blunder? State Halts Repairs to UVM's Ira Allen Chapel," January 30]: The comparison between the fraternity Lambda Iota and the Ira Allen Chapel is unfair on many levels. The first and most obvious is that Lambda Iota is not on the National Register for Historic Places while the Ira Allen Chapel is.
Secondly, in regards to the comment insinuating that a Preservation Burlington award is tacit approval of poor preservation practices, the PB award was nominated and voted upon without full knowledge that the aforementioned column replacement had taken place. Many considerations are involved in the process of nominating local residential, commercial and institutional entities. It is important to note that Lambda had undertaken a major renovation and restoration to their building, including interior stairway and woodwork restoration, and window and door restoration rather than replacement.
For UVM to compare its project and the loss of historic original materials on a National Register-listed building to a neighboring building is disingenuous at the very least. And to offer to "restore the windows" as a bargaining chip to try and mitigate an egregious flouting of the rules only adds insult to injury.
Thank you for your reporting and attention to the ongoing issue of best practices by an institution known for its program in historic preservation.
Wanamaker is co-owner of Wanamaker Restoration and a historic building technician at the Shelburne Museum.
I perceive the author's depiction of the City Hall Park ballot initiative story in [Feedback: "'Inflammatory' Park Story," February 6] to be inaccurate.
The Burlington City Council did refuse to put the park question on the ballot after more than 3,300 signatures were turned in. The language of the ballot initiative was very clear, rejecting the current city plan and offering a viable, less invasive alternative. The contention that the language of the ballot initiative was not neutral is inaccurate.
Burlington voters will not get a chance to weigh in on the future of City Hall Park. The so-called six-year public process was a farce. The most important details — how many of the current trees were to be cut down and how much more concrete was going into the park — were not known until less than a year ago. Keep the Park Green then challenged that plan and tried to negotiate with the city, but there was virtually no compromise and no willingness to change their plan.
It is disappointing to see how people can be hoodwinked into believing there has been a democratic process, when in reality, the city and Burlington City Arts had a plan all along for the park that they were determined to push through. The sanitizing of City Hall Park by making it into a hot, corporate, concrete plaza is unconscionable. And the crushing of real democracy in Burlington is a real travesty.
Nothing 'Public' About It
[Re Off Message: "Burlington City Council Refuses to Put Park Question on March Ballot," January 29]: When 3,300 people sign a petition with specific wording, which had been cleared by the city attorney and OK'd, they expect the petition to have that wording. That is the reason — or 3,300 reasons — to keep the wording as it was in the petition. That's why Keep the Park Green couldn't and wouldn't change the language.
Some people say that "the public" has had years to give input, so why should the city be listening now? Because the city didn't listen to the public input and now are whining because they spent so much money on it! Perhaps next time they will find out if the residents of the city want something before they spend $500,000 of our money.
All the new development is not good for the city. To be a Vermont place, we need to pay attention to its history, and to the wishes of its residents. Of course we need affordable housing! We need hundreds of units that cost less than $1,000 a month.
Ask yourself, What is distinctive about Burlington? How can we preserve its character, and also make it grow? The answer may be to build truly affordable housing, and not to wreck City Hall Park. If you don't think they are about to wreck it, just take a look at it this summer.
Stan & Ollie Lies
The film Stan & Ollie lies [Movie Review, January 30]. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were definitely not underpaid or poorly treated. In fact, during the period portrayed, producer Hal Roach paid Laurel more than he paid himself. I have all their contracts, as well as charts published at the time in Hollywood trade papers to prove this. In fact, I am credited in the film. Also, Roach, whom I knew well for a quarter century, and Laurel never argued over money. Kindly conduct some research and correct your review.
Editor's note: Seven Days critic Rick Kisonak recapped the story that was presented in the film Stan & Ollie. For the purposes of this film review, no independent research was conducted into the historical payment or treatment of Laurel and Hardy.
Land Tax Works
I am writing in regard to your article "Gains and Losses: Would a Land Tax Repeal Spark Growth or Sprawl?" [February 6]. Gov. Phil Scott has proposed eliminating our land gains tax entirely. I believe that this tax is a critical tool for preserving rural lands in our state, and I am very concerned at the prospect of removing it.
The tax creates a disincentive to real estate speculation, timber liquidation and subdivision. If a property owner is required to hold on to a property for six years to avoid gains tax, they are more likely to create a forest management plan, enroll in current use for the property tax reduction and steward their woodlot appropriately for the future.
This, in effect, prevents irreversible development of our timberland and farmland.
A possibility I see here that could address the housing and development concerns is to exempt all properties below the 25-acre current-use threshold or something in that range. This would allow improvement of developed areas to be more profitable while making quick sales and development of farm and forestlands less profitable. It would promote population growth near towns while limiting suburban expansion into our rural areas. It would also eliminate a lot of the grievances mentioned in the article, such as expensive administration, filing exemptions for a residence or hampering the restoration of historic buildings.
I would encourage anyone who values our wild and working lands to let their representatives know how valuable this law has been in protecting them.