BERLIN – Voters in the mid-sized central Vermont community that is home to Montpelier’s drinking water supply may ultimately be asked to weigh in on a still-simmering dispute over access to Berlin Pond.
After meeting with the Montpelier City Council and hearing now-familiar arguments both for and against recreational use of the pond Monday night, members of the Berlin Select Board seemed receptive to one resident’s suggestion that they put the question on the ballot.
“It may be the better way,” Chairman Brad Towne said of resident Bob Wernecke’s suggestion that the board might want to consult voters before making any irreversible decisions.
Wernecke acknowledged the board has been tugged in two decidedly different directions since the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in May that Montpelier lacked the authority to enforce century-old prohibitions on recreational use of the pond. He said a public referendum on the clearly controversial topic could yield useful information and may actually be required if the board is seriously considering auctioning off a long-term lease to a small parcel of town-owned property that includes 85 feet of shoreline on the pond.
The leasing option was one of a number of ideas – some more novel than others – floated during a discussion that spanned more than 90 minutes Monday night. The well-attended meeting, which began with a back-and-forth with Montpelier city councilors, soon morphed into a sometimes-spirited public comment period during which the word “selfish” was liberally used by those on both sides of the issue.
The board’s discussion continued after most of the more than 50 residents and all of Montpelier’s City Council had headed for home, leaving members to wrestle with an issue one predicted just isn’t going to go away.
For the rest of the story, see the Wednesday Times Argus or return to www.timesargus.com tomorrow.MORE IN This Just In
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