Letters to the Editor (6/8/22) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published June 8, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

Fighting Fentanyl

In ["Richmond Man Sentenced to Four Years for Brothers' Fatal Overdoses," online, May 27] it states that the Thibaults hired their own private detectives. I'm wondering — and hoping — that it helped in the case for their sons.

My son also died from fentanyl poisoning. We and the Essex Police know who provided it, but unless he comes forward and admits that he knowingly sold them cocaine laced with fentanyl, the police said there's nothing they can do. Who, knowing they would go to jail, would voluntarily offer himself up for the charge?

I'm upset. Tommy Barr, my only child, died at age 40 on December 17, 2019. I'm told that he died between 3 and 3:30 a.m., but no one called for help until 9 a.m. What is wrong with this world that this is acceptable? No charges filed for any of it! I guess I'm wondering if the help the Thibaults received from those other than the police department was at all helpful.

Jean Koch


Quiet Presence

[Re "Burlington Police to Have Stronger Downtown Presence This Summer," online, May 19]: Stronger downtown presence?! Not long ago, I saw two uniformed police officers walking north on Church Street, chatting and sipping their coffee. Two bike riders whizzed past them and there was no, "Hey, didn't you see the signs saying a $50 fine for bike riding?" What about skateboarding and smoking? All of the above is permitted on our thoroughfare. And who hasn't seen that man with one hand on the bike handle and the other with a phone glibly doing his juggling act while smoking a cigarette? 

What will it take to change things? Two empty patrol cars on the north end? A broken rib of some child hit by a skateboard? The financial losses of the stores? I'm tired of having to look over my shoulder. 

Tom MacDonald 


UVM Should Take Responsibility

I appreciated Courtney Lamdin's article covering the perspectives of the stakeholders in UVM's housing policy ["Gowntown Development," May 25]. As an alumnus and as a neighbor of UVM for 48 years impacted by their business plan to place students in neighborhoods, I offer the following comments:

Burlington is a "college town." So is Winooski, but the residents on nearby streets are not surrounded by the lifestyles of 20- to 22-year-olds.

UVM enrolls 11,000 undergrads and houses 5,452 on campus. That means 5,548 are housed off campus. Homeowners and long-term renters are expected to live among the majority of undergrads off campus. Having the same number of students living on Trinity campus as the athletic campus will open up rental units. The athletic campus has little impact on the three streets abutting that campus.

Burlington thoroughly reviews the impact of noise and traffic in the neighborhoods if, for example, a Higher Ground or any other business wants to be permitted to locate in the city. In the reassessment of our properties last year, college rental properties were assessed as commercial at a lower rate increase on my street than owner-occupied homes.

UVM's CFO and the head of the trustees take no responsibility for the housing crisis in Burlington despite their students' need for housing. This reminds me of the take-no-responsibility attitude of the Sackler family for the drug overdose crisis. 

Keith Pillsbury


Credit Truex

[Re "Bill Truex, 'Citizen Architect' Who Designed Burlington's Church Street, Dies," online, April 12; Life Lines, April 25; Feedback: "Remembering Truex," May 18]: None of the obituaries for Bill Truex that I have read do justice to his incredible vision: the Church Street Marketplace. Recently receiving the ultimate acclamation of "best public square" in the entire country by USA Today, the Marketplace is the crowning jewel in Bill's distinguished architectural career.

But few understand just how special and unusual the Marketplace is. I think I saw that the "new urbanism" expert, Jeff Speck, notes that of over 200 street closings in the U.S. over the past 40 years, only 30 remain. The rest were failures and were converted back to streets. Only a handful of these pedestrian malls are considered successful today.

The Church Street Marketplace not only survived, it thrived. It saved downtown Burlington from the cutthroat competition of interstate exit malls. Now those malls are failing, while Church Street is vibrant — a living monument to Bill's vision.

When Bill was in architectural school in Copenhagen in the 1960s, he witnessed the birth of the Strøget, the first major street in Europe to be closed to automobiles. Like the U.S., most streets in Europe were routinely surrendered to cars in the 1950s. The Strøget went against the grain. Bill brought that idea home to Burlington. Then he insisted on it becoming a reality.

Two hundred years from now people will praise Bill Truex as a great architect, but even more importantly he will be forever renowned as the visionary architect of the best town square in the U.S. today.

Rick Sharp


This Program Works

I was very appreciative to see the article about Working Fields ["Reaching Out," May 25]. A little over three years ago I had just got out of rehab and was trying to put my life back together. I was referred to Working Fields through Turning Point. I was offered a job at a diesel repair shop in Williston. I had no experience as a diesel mechanic but had been a welder for 20 years before alcoholism destroyed my life. The shop manager gave me a chance, and I worked there for two years until the shop closed due to COVID-19 in 2021. The manager also gave me a second chance when I relapsed after working there for two months and was a no-call/no-show for two days. He was sympathetic and understanding of my struggle to get sober and took me back, no questions asked. The company also gave me the flexibility in my schedule to attend IOP classes and meet with my counselor and recovery coach.

If it wasn't for Working Fields, I really don't know how I would have gotten a job and a second chance to get my life together and reunite with my family. I have been in recovery for just over three years and have been able to take classes at CCV. I am now working for the Howard Center, which I have wanted to do for a long time, and I'm able help others as I have been helped.

Justin Beebe