Letters: Time to have a mayor
Aren’t you fed up enough with Bennington’s current form of town government to consider changing our charter to a mayoral system? The people of Bennington never seem to feel like they have a say in the direction in which our town is moving. The only thing that seems to be moving and growing as businesses in our town are the 501(c)3 organizations that hide under their non-profit status. I have never seen the ill will in our town so strong as it is now.
Who can the people hold accountable for this? The select board members were all elected by their neighbors to truly represent their needs and interests. Do we feel we’re getting that from our select board? I don’t think so. Do we just blame our town manager and his staff? Not really.
We’ve allowed this to go on, and we need to stop this. We need to have one individual whom we can hold accountable, and that individual should be a mayor. In changing the charter, we can determine whether we want 3- or 4-year term for a mayor. If people try to scare you with the idea that Bennington will become a city, that’s simply not true. We can still have a select board to work with the mayor, but the mayor would have veto power over the select board.
I ask the question of changing our charter because of Bennington’s continuing economic difficulties. Where is an economic development plan from our town administration and staff? Where is a recruitment plan for downtown? Why are we not vigorously pursuing development along Northside Drive to help lift our grand list? Our town staff has fought against the expansion of Wal-Mart, and has opposed changing zoning for parcels such as Johnson Controls. The impending expansion of Wal-Mart is breathing new life into businesses and land values along Northside Drive while adding significantly to our tax receipts. The redevelopment of Cumberland Farms represents a business now willing to make a more expensive investment in Bennington on Northside Drive.
I applaud the group of citizens that are trying to protect their neighborhood from overdevelopment with the proposed Shires housing project.
Their anger is representative of how many citizens feel: We have lost control of our town government, and our wishes are simply ignored in the name of expediency or some other momentary goal. This is why I think Bennington needs to consider changing its form of governance to a mayoral system.
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