Forum, July 12: Thanks, Hartford, for Acknowledging Our Abilities

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Acknowledging Our Abilities

Thanks again to the members of the Hartford Police Department for their support of the Law Enforcement Torch Run on May 31. This was the 50th year that law enforcement officials helped raise money and awareness for Special Olympics.

Thank you to the town of Hartford and all the organizations that support the Hartford Police Department for this event, which celebrates acceptance and inclusion of our Special Olympics athletes. Fourteen athletes from the Upper Valley Hawks were recognized this year. They were cheered by their community for their achievements, not only in Special Olympics, but also for the jobs they hold and volunteer hours they put in.

As a parent volunteer for the Hawks, I see every year what the Hartford police, the town staff and administrators and the sponsor organizations do as they work to better our community by seeing the bigger picture of inclusion for all and acknowledgment of our abilities, not disabilities.

Randi Harron

West Hartford

The Alliance’s Work Continues

The dust is settling on David Hall’s decision to pull out of his NewVistas plan (“NewVistas Project Dead: Hall Will Sell His Vermont Properties,” June 28).

The Alliance for Vermont Communities supports appropriate development that is consistent with local and regional plans. We seek solutions to problems that require many heads to solve, such as feeding, sheltering, educating and providing livelihoods to Vermont’s population, now and into the future. We understand Vermont’s rural towns all share common economic issues, and we are interested in diverse viewpoints from community members who will sit down together to come up with ideas that, with effort, will work. We are about seeking innovative models from people and places around the globe eager to work collaboratively.

The Alliance for Vermont Communities will continue to work with partners from around the state on strengthening participatory, citizen-engaged sustainable development, on the protection of working lands, our farms and forests, and to expand opportunities for our communities. We have been committed to our positive, forward-looking mission since the beginning and we look forward to tackling our most important work. Watch for public forums and please show up.

I would like to remind people of a quote from Hall, published in the Valley News on March 27, 2016, just days after the news broke of the planned development: “If the people of Vermont can’t come to really love the concept, it’s not going to be done,” he said. “And that’s OK. I’m OK with that. Developers shouldn’t be able to force things on people.”

Thank you to David Hall for hearing the people of Royalton, Sharon, Strafford and Tunbridge, and others around the state, and staying true to your word.

Hall’s proposal did bring to the fore issues that Vermont, and much of the nation, have long ignored. Now, we have to take that momentum and move forward with solid plans that will bring jobs, affordable housing and prosperity to the region and the state.

Michael Sacca


The writer is the president of the Alliance for Vermont Communities.

Key NewVistas Fact Was Missed

Former Strafford resident Kevin Ellis recently penned an opinion column lamenting that David Hall had withdrawn his proposed NewVistas project (“In NewVistas, Vermont Missed an Opportunity,” June 28).

Hall envisioned a largely self-sustaining community of some 20,000 people on 5,000 acres carved out of the townships of Royalton, Sharon, Strafford and Tunbridge. Hall believed this first NewVistas community would become a model for many such communities spread throughout Vermont. Ellis stated that self-sustaining, ecologically sound development is what Vermonters are yearning for. So, why send Hall packing?

On July 1, the Valley News followed the Ellis column with an editorial stating that if Hall had approached the towns’ residents openly instead of sending surrogates to quietly buy large tracts on his behalf, they might have embraced him.

Both Ellis and the Valley News missed one huge fact: Hall, a devout Mormon, intended his utopian community to be laid out according to Joseph Smith’s “Plat of Zion.” It would not be a municipality as we know it. Instead, it would be a corporation controlled by 12 apostles chosen not by residents but by Hall and his associates. In fact, residents would have little voice in how their community would be run, how the schools would operate or what would be taught. Residents would be required to surrender their worldly assets and most of their rights to direct the affairs of the community to the NewVistas corporation.

Vermont has a long tradition of public participation and self-governance, whether in town, school or state government. To sweep that away would be antithetical to what it is to be a Vermonter, indeed an American.

If Hall’s next pursuit is an environmentally self-sustaining endeavor integrated into the community in which it is to be built, we should congratulate him and wish him well. However, if his project is to be a corporation devoid of self-governance run by 12 outsiders chosen without regard to the desires and needs of the governed, we should not lament his moving on.

Jim Masland

Thetford Center

NewVistas Opponents Were Jealous

It was kind of interesting all the ignorance that went into the opposition to David Hall’s proposed plan for a sustainable living project 50 years from now. We live in a dying state, where we now have to bribe folks to move here with a very questionable use of tax dollars, and where our growth often comes at the expense of middle-income taxpayers through suspect tax incentive projects.

Hall, to his credit, had a vision. He had a plan that spanned beyond his lifetime. It was a clear vision that would have re-created something that actually happened a couple of hundred years ago in this state, but he went further.

He was using his own money, and I think after reading all the lame, misguided reasons why he was bad, that was the problem. The backward folks at the “Two Rivers Regional Anti-Growth Commission” and the state did not like this, you see, because he was not asking for any tax breaks, community development money that would never be paid back, or anything else that the Democratic Party requires to do business in this state. So, more than anything else, it was a jealousy issue. These groups despise anyone who has a vision because it is their lack of a clear vision that has destroyed our state.

I encourage you folks to look at the populations of these communities in the early 1900s and the commerce that thrived here, and when you get your facts gathered and compare it with what is happening today, and our severely declining, aging population, you tell me: Was his vision really so bad? I think not so much.

Douglas Tuthill

West Hartford