It is easy to want to keep things the way they have been. The developments being built and planned in downtown Montpelier — transportation terminal, new housing, hotel, parking structure — are not exactly what I wanted. In the past dozen years, I’ve attended hundreds of hours of meeting regarding these and had my say, and have usually been heard, even if not always heeded. Of course. there may be problems in the short term due to the construction but change is often inconvenient at first. That said, I think the time is right to go ahead with all of them.
Think back to when Stonecutters Way was being developed — it was a veritable wasteland compared to what it is now; it may still not be “perfect” but it is certainly vital and accommodating to future changes. Look back to old time photographs of Montpelier, acknowledge the unbelievable changes and realize that all along the way, people have been doing the best we can to keep the city vital and livable.
It is time to make these next changes and then adjust again as needed — fewer cars; more walking, bikes and public transport, maybe even rail service; more tourists; more support for businesses and, as a result, increased tax rolls. There are many chances along the way to support refining these changes without derailing them.
I remember the old Carr junk lot very well, as well as the flooded, empty Plaza Hotel. Both were not where I wanted our city to be. But 20 years of dreaming has gotten us the beginnings of the transportation center and desperately needed new housing. The Bashara family jumped in and brought back the hotel to life and now have an even greater vision for what can happen. I appreciate all the mayor, city manager, city council, merchants and involved citizens have done to get us to this exciting point. We need to move ahead.
John Snell is a Montpelier resident.