Letter: A lack of respect shown to SVC's neighbors

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To the Editor:

I have lived here my entire life in Bennington and had the privilege of graduating from Southern Vermont College. Vermont offers a wonderful array of activities for everyone. In particular it has some of the most honest, decent, hardworking residents you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting. We take pride in what we do and what we have to offer. That is why I am so troubled by Mr. Perlstein lack of respect to our residents.

Residents were unaware of 350 campers, plus staff arriving on this closed campus. Naturally, we were all curious as to why 15 buses appeared one July weekend. This is human nature and was only compounded during the COVID-19 pandemic. To quote Mr. Perlstein, " We have demonstrated from the very first day that we spared no expense or effort to get along with our neighbors." Did you introduce yourself to neighbor's upon your arrival? No. Were you inviting to curious residents walking up Mansion Drive? No. Residents were stopped by you or a staff member and told to leave the premises.

I understand you "initially spent a tremendous amount of money leasing an assembly room/tent". Was the gym not sufficient for assemblies? "When we heard that this was causing our neighbors to suffer, we swallowed the loss and took it down, along with the PA system." Even after the numerous complaints the Bennington police received you still did not remove the tent or PA system until there was a court order mandating you to do so. A good neighbor would have done that after the first compliant was filed.

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Your letter also states "Does Ms. Bent call making an innocent mistake (even if it happened more than one time), such a terrible misdemeanor?" There have been 56 calls reported to the Bennington Police Department between July 5th and August 1st. This is not an innocent mistake and it certainly is not someone who wants to "get along" with their neighbors.

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You go on to say "Does this have to cause an entire group of children to be sent home? I am appalled at this complete lack of sensitivity displayed to blameless children." Just to be clear, I am in no way blaming these children. You, sir, are solely responsible for this situation.

If your main concern is the children, can you please explain why when the first session was over, the buses arrived at 3:30 in the morning? Seems to be a strange time to move 350 sleeping children onto a bus for a four-hour ride home.

In closing you state, "Happiness is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Compromise is a choice. I believe our choices define us. Therefore, I would like to join forces with the Bennington community to choose wisely. Let us choose unity. Let us choose sensitivity. Let us choose friendship." I agree with you, Mr. Perlstein, but would like to add that respect is also a choice. Unfortunately Mr. Perlstein, you have not showed the residents of Bennington the respect they deserve.

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Respectfully submitted,

Amy Maroney,

Bennington


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