I am opposed to the proposed Shires housing on Silver Street. My opposition does not come from an elitist belief that it should not be in my part of town nor is it because of any beliefs about income and social skills. I simply believe that the location and scale are inappropriate for our community. We cannot afford to look at past decisions as solutions to our future. What we did or approved in 2006 does not mean that it is good for 2014 and beyond. I also hope that the selectboard and the DRB respond to clear community opposition, opposition which comes with strong reasons. There are many issues: traffic, tax breaks, extra stress on the frequently described aging water and sewer infrastructure, the loss of the kind of neighborhood Bennington needs. We will be subsidizing and paying for this in many ways.

The recent recently released draft of the housing study (Banner, July 23) seems to agree that this is not the right kind of project for Bennington. It is clear even in draft form that we need a larger plan. Here are a few quotes: "Housing policies cannot be seen as separate from economic development and education." Suggestions included "developing programs and incentives to renovate existing, low quality housing stock." And finally one of the draft study’s recommendations was to reverse the trend of "renter occupied housing around the business district." There was much more, including suggestions to improve middle-class housing opportunities and encourage owner-owned housing through creative financing.


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My understanding is that each unit will cost roughly $230,000. Imagine if that money were used to promote the Shires mission of rehabilitating housing for lower-income tenants spread out throughout the community.

It was mentioned recently by a speaker at a selectboard meeting that, from her perspective on Union Street, Silver Street did not seem to be a neighborhood. In fact, the addition of the housing complex on lower Silver urbanizes that block and removes it from the neighborhood above it. Silver, Imperial, Grandview, Crescent Boulevard and the numerous small streets surrounding are very definitely the kind of neighborhoods we should protect: mixed income, older homes, renters and homeowners, families with children, and seniors all living as a neighborhood on small streets.

I urge the selectboard to withdraw their support of the grant, to encourage plans for growth consistent with the study mentioned above and to remind the Development Review Board to look at this project from the viewpoint of neighborhood preservation. There are more questions and concerns about planting and traffic posed for any project on the already commercialized Northside Drive than have been asked about this project. This is an opportunity to help slow down trends that do not build economic development and education hand-in-hand with affordable housing.

Please attend the selectboard meeting on July 28 and the Development Review Board meeting on August 5.

ABBY SHAPIRO

Bennington

Thank you for your support

I cannot thank everyone enough for everything they have done and are doing to help me with my medical and travel expenses.

The American Legion of Arlington, donated the use of their banquet room for a fundraiser my wonderful sister, Linda Kelley, and brother-in-law Pat held for me on July 12.

So many wonderful people came together to help them set up, help with the food, help in the kitchen and help with the clean up.

The donation from local businesses and baskets and food from others helped to make the fundraiser a great success and were more than I deserve.

That night with everyone coming together, friends, family, and the communities that came out to show their support, over $4,000 was raised. I honestly can’t begin to express how thankful I am to everyone and how loved I have been feeling since the day the fundraising was started for me.

With the website my dear friend Kathie Mills stated for me and the two fundraisers that were organized for me, everyone has helped make it possible to raise over half of what Mass General Hospital said I would need. I am very fortunate there are such a wonderful, caring people in this world.

Thank you all for the bottom my heart!

LARI ANN (FINNING) HAYES

Arlington