Why We Haven't Moved to Vermont
[Re "Coming and Going: Vermont Struggles to Grow Its Workforce," February 8]: I have followed Gov. Phil Scott's plans to get people to move to Vermont. We seemingly fit the desired profile as younger professionals. We drive an electric car and are very environmentally responsible. We love nature, local foods and animals.
Our blockades pertain to employment and pay — and that is with me keeping my current job. The average offer my wife — a physical therapist with 10-plus years of experience and specialty certifications — has been given is 10 percent less than her current salary, increases health insurance costs and reduces her existing benefits. Simultaneously, utilities, housing, taxes and transportation are all higher in Vermont — some substantially. While we'll accept some trade-offs, none of the aforementioned scenarios works in our favor or serves as incentive.
Now consider that we do not live in an inexpensive smaller town and suffer from sticker shock. We reside in Chicago in a quiet, in-demand neighborhood where we have a mortgage on a nice home that has appreciated. Even with those gains, the numbers prove a major challenge. Plus, we do not seek to live in Burlington, but rather in a surrounding, cheaper area. We have paid out of pocket for travel and expenses for interviews on two occasions — and for house inspection and water fees on a deal on which the seller reneged.
We adore Vermont and would relish the opportunity to join your community as engaged citizens. We do not need to be persuaded to move by a government program. We do, however, need a job in my wife's field that pays what it should.
[Re Off Message: "Development Opponents Go Back to Court Over Burlington Mall," March 30]: What city officials call the "base concept" for Bank and Cherry streets contradicts at least three of their four stated "primary goals" for these streets: that they be walkable, bikeable, functional and sustainable. To be faithful to these goals, the base concept has to go.
The central error of the base concept is to allow parking on both sides of Bank and Cherry.
A new development — properly designed — should not negatively impact our streets or compromise the tens of millions in tax dollars we are investing in them. How architects and planners could miss this is hard to fathom. CityPlace Burlington should provide necessary parking internally.
For Bank and Cherry to be bikeable, a safe, dedicated bike lane is an absolute necessity, just as sidewalks are an absolute necessity if streets are to be walkable.
Streets intended to serve pedestrians, cyclists and motorists must be designed to serve them all safely and equitably.
Frankly, cars are not especially suited or good for a city. Walking and cycling are the most suitable modes of transport in our downtown; motor vehicles can be competently managed and accommodated, but they don't really fit in.
The bottom line is that if we're honest and serious about Bank and Cherry being walkable, bikeable, functional and sustainable, we must at a minimum either remove parking and loading from one side of each or from both sides of one. Anything less is a betrayal of the stated and laudable primary goals for these streets.
Get Rid of Guns
[Re Fair Game: "Into the Arena," April 18]: I have read the reasons of those who believe that we should all have the right to bear arms — to protect our lives and property in case of government or police oppression, etc., or to ward off intruders in our homes or on the street.
If this ever happens, all will be lost anyway, no?
We have people in society — mad in both senses of the word — who have hurt themselves or have been hurt by others and have an undeniable urge to cause as much hurt as possible. An assault rifle is the most efficient means to do so.
Recently, I saw in a newspaper a photo of the inside of a gun shop. On the wall behind the counter were some rifles. The majority were assault rifles.
You do not need such a gun to hunt whichever game you want to kill. You do not need such a gun for target practice. You do not need any gun that fires a great number of bullets in very little time, unless you want to maim and kill as many as you can.
Anything that can deter the availability of the kind of guns I saw in that photo must be done. The answer is there on that wall.
Elk Should Apologize
Responding to the incident reported in last week's Seven Days [Last 7: "Poetic Injustice?" May 9], I wish to refute statements made by Moe Decelles of the Elks Lodge. I and other participants were witness to these events when the Muslim Girls Making Change arrived to perform at our annual banquet.
1. Decelles said that the girls were distracting the meeting. Untrue. One attendee reported seeing the girls pass; there was not one distraction complaint.
2. Decelles claimed that he had been told the expected speaker was to be the wife of the president of the University of Vermont and so wasn't expecting four young girls. Untrue again. Only our board members knew she would be present. All members had known for weeks that MGMC would be our guest speakers.
3. Decelles stated that they "just went into a rage, all four of them," not telling him they were our guests. According to MGMC, his first words to the girls were to tell them he had called the police because they were doing drugs. Once the girls were inside, he realized his mistake, saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't know," but he denied accusing them of doing drugs. This denial, now admitted several times in his Seven Days interview, infuriated our guests and requires an apology, at the minimum.
We are hopeful that the Elks and MGMC will reach a satisfactory resolution to this unfortunate incident. We hope the Elks will join us in supporting the MGMC message of inclusion and tolerance.
Costello is the past president of Women of UVM