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No need for negative spin

A comment made at a May meeting of the Town Tourism Committee was symptomatic of one of the primary attitudes working in the controversy over the proposed Reservoir Hill development project.

A taskforce has conceived and promoted the project. The volunteers on that taskforce put a great deal of time and energy into the project. Proponents are convinced the project will work — that the amenities will provide a greater attraction for tourists (the primary function of the TTC), will be a significant addition to the downtown area and will contribute a much-needed economic boost to the area.

To expect any other attitude on the part of advocates would be unrealistic.

The opinion expressed in the reported comment is, likewise, realistic for a supporter of the project —that opposition to the proposal results from “negative spin.”

While the idea is to be expected, it shows a limited understanding of the situation surrounding the proposed Reservoir Hill development.

There is a great deal of opposition to many aspects of the proposed development — to the proposed alpine coaster, the zip line, the top-of-the-hill tethered balloon ride and, in particular, to the ski lift. There has been support for an improved festival site on the hill, an improved road to the top of the hill and an improved trail system on the hill.

Opposition to elements of the plan is not the result of “negative spin.” Opposition to the ski lift and the other amenities is rooted in a desire to preserve what many see as a unique attribute of this small, mountain town and to avoid a carnival-like atmosphere in the downtown area — an area many believe would benefit more from redevelopment of key, decaying commercial structures and the addition of new, quality residential and commercial spaces.

No spin necessary.

We remind those who believe the “spin” comment that disagreement is not always disingenuous. Often it is on the mark, propelled by a commitment to a vision of the future every bit as strong as that held by those with differing ideas. And there is a chance this other vision is more acute. Positive, not negative.

It does not require “spin” (such as studies and projections by outside sources that, from the outset, are crafted to mirror the vision of those who commission the studies). It relies on a sense of what those who disagree with the proposed idea believe is best.

We believe much of the current controversy can be mitigated by a process that should have been in place from the beginning.

The Town Tourism Committee has done great work in many areas. The volunteers on the committee are to be commended. But, when it comes to conceiving and shepherding plans that deal with town park and recreation facilities, the commission should not be near the top of the food chain. For many years prior to the creation of the TTC, the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission was the filtering mechanism used by the council (and, previously, the town board), evaluating, then bringing proposals and projects to elected officials. Where has this group been in the recent activity dealing with Reservoir Hill? It should be at the center of the process.

Any proposal dealing with town park lands (including Reservoir Hill) should be brought to the Parks and Recreation Commission. That group should consider ideas and proposals and make a recommendation to the council.

No spin needed, from any quarter. What is needed is a body through which park and recreation proposals must pass before they make their way up the ladder. Every idea needs an intermediary body to examine it, another stage through which to pass before it is considered by elected officials.

That body exists in this case. Use it.

Karl Isberg

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