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Forum, May 22: Tuesday meeting will address Lebanon apartment proposal

Published: 5/21/2020 10:00:14 PM
Modified: 5/21/2020 10:00:03 PM
Tuesday meeting will address Lebanon apartment proposal

If you are a Lebanon resident who is concerned about the appearance of downtown, you should be aware of the next Planning Board meeting, scheduled for Tuesday.

This hearing will address primarily the project proposed by Jolin Salazar-Kish for 8-10 and 14 Bank St. It would increase the apartment density from 16 units to 40, demolish the 1848 structure at 8 Bank St., and the height of the new 8 Bank St. building would exceed that of the AVA Gallery. From the green, this building would eclipse the library and the Post Office.

To quote the project engineer, Dan Nash, “It’s just shocking to some people because they’re used to the smaller apartments that we have in that area.”

However, I believe every neighborhood has its own personality or character, if you prefer, whether it is downtown Lebanon or Poverty Lane, and it should be our choice. And bigger is not better and higher is not greater.

I believe this is the fourth hearing on this contentious project. Again, this will be a “virtual hearing,” online, even recognizing the difficulties some board members and interested citizens have experienced in attempting to view these meetings. So please sign in at LebanonNH.gov/Live on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The board does take notice of the audience numbers. Your presence is important and your comments would be helpful. Also, you may email the Planning Board at Planning@LebanonNH.gov. For information you may call 603-448-1457.

We may not be visible, but we must make our concerns obvious. This project should be defeated.

MARY ANN MASTRO

Lebanon

Rally to support child care

Thank you for the article about the closing of the Enfield day care facility and the lack of child care options in the Upper Valley (“Closure highlights scarcity of child care,” May 10). As the article indicates, the Upper Valley was short 2,000 child care slots before the effects of COVID-19 were felt.

I live in West Lebanon, across the street from a child care center that has been closed for weeks. As a Save the Children Action Network advocate, I’m deeply troubled by the impact of the coronavirus on child care providers, whose services are so vital to our children and also to our communities and workforce. Currently, emergency service providers are on the front lines fighting for our communities. These workers cannot work from home, making child care a necessity. As stay-at-home orders are lifted, more working parents will again require child care. We cannot afford to lose child care slots.

Access to child care is indispensable for tens of millions of Americans. When this pandemic is over, businesses reopen and parents go back to work, child care programs will play an integral role in meeting new workforce demands, sustaining local communities and rebuilding the national economy.

I urge New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Rep. Annie Kuster to continue supporting child care assistance in any new stimulus packages that Congress considers. This funding must provide the Granite State with robust and flexible funding to serve our community and keep our workforce functioning.

In these uncertain times, our communities must rally together to support child care.

MARGARET CAMPBELL

West Lebanon

Property taxes are crippling NH communities, families

New Hampshire runs on property taxes. It is a well-known fact that New Hampshire has some of the highest property taxes in the country. As we face the severe financial consequences of the pandemic fallout, the state must not downshift costs to local homeowners, businesses and property taxpayers.

After the Great Recession of 2008, the state downshifted many costs to the property tax, including contributing to the retirement pensions of municipal and school workers, which was once the responsibility of the state. Property taxes are regressive and have crippled many property-poor communities like my hometown of Newport and sister communities Claremont and Charlestown. Families in these communities on average make nearly 20 percent less than the median family income in New Hampshire, yet they pay some of the highest property tax rates in the state. These residents are spending 8%-10%, and in some cases even more, of their incomes on local property taxes. Hard-working residents are facing severe financial consequences due to the pandemic, and the downshifting of state expenses to local taxpayers could indeed bankrupt taxpayers, communities and schools. We ask that state leaders not try to solve any budgetary shortfalls on the backs of local taxpayers.

GUENTER HUBERT

Newport

NH House Democrats and their farcical spending ideas

New Hampshire House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, a Democrat, has proposed spending $200,000 to conduct a single-day House session in June at the Whittemore Center Arena at the University of New Hampshire, a state school. Ostensibly, seating can be arranged at Whittemore to permit 6 feet of social distancing for elderly House members vulnerable to COVID-19. The sum includes money for electronic paraphernalia to permit members to vote electronically from their seats. Makes you wonder how Gen. U.S. Grant could have commanded a 100,000-man army without Wi-Fi.

Democrats are notorious for being incapable of prioritizing anything or even minimally understanding sources and uses of funds. This $200,000, single-day meeting proposal represents one of the most egregiously stupid and farcical spending ideas that House Democrats have ever offered for public consumption.

Taking aisles and egress into account, it takes about an acre of space to seat 400 people with 6 feet of social distancing — about the size of a football field. A big circus tent would do. Any capable wedding planner could find one. Parking for 400 cars requires about 4 acres — not much. Almost any New Hampshire fairground site would work. Fairgrounds are always on the hunt for ways to pay bills. Golf carts could ferry old, disabled and wheezy members (like me). Red and green auction-like voting placards could be waved for counters walking the aisles, tallying votes — just like at Town Meeting. For $100, the speaker could rent any teenage rock band’s sound system, which could be easily amped up to accommodate even the deafest House member.

Behavioral scientists Justin Kruger and David Dunning concocted what’s called the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which has to do with how people view their capacity for decision-making. One of its conclusions was that, “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent.” Appreciating the Dunning-Kruger Effect will help everyone understand every Democrat, going forward, from now until the end of time.

PAUL MIRSKI

Enfield Center

The writer served in the New Hampshire House from 1995-2002, 2005-2006 and 2011-2012.

Libraries meet the challenge

I write in response to your article about Upper Valley libraries (“Libraries still serving patrons,” May 14). All around the Upper Valley, librarians have stepped up to meet a challenge never anticipated: serving patrons when the library is closed to the public. Since mid-March, when the Dunbar Free Library in Grantham was forced to close its doors, our librarian and staff have found creative ways to provide virtual opportunities to adults, teens and children. In addition, we made our services available to Grantham residents who did not have a library card, to ensure that they, too, have access to information, entertainment and a relief from the pressures the pandemic has posed. The staff is also calling Grantham residents just to say, “Hi, I’m thinking about you.”

Throughout the Upper Valley, librarians have found imaginative and thoughtful alternatives to provide opportunities for knowledge, wisdom, culture and entertainment. Thank you, librarians and library staff. You shine!

BEVERLY MARSHALL

Grantham

The writer is chair of the Dunbar Free Library board of trustees.

DeVos undermines schools

Our country is falling behind much of the developed world in education. A study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, published in The Lancet in 2018, reported that, since 1990, the U.S. had dropped from sixth to 27th in the world in investments in education and health care. The results of this failure can be seen all through our society, from the inability to analyze what is fact and what is “fake news” to determined ignorance at the very top of our government.

In the recent coronavirus relief legislation, $308 million was allocated “for grants to states with the highest coronavirus burden.” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is using $180 million of this to fund a program that asks states to find “new innovative ways for students to access K-12 education.” This is a scandalous misuse of relief money. COVID-19 aid money should not be used to incentivize states to look for alternatives to public schools.

DeVos’ blatant undermining of our public school system can only exacerbate the divisions in our society and diminish those schools that educate all of us equally. We desperately need a literate and informed citizenry.

ELIZABETH KNOX

Grantham




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