Wednesday, June 06, 2012


News to Know June 6th

Sent by Corinne Stridsberg and also posted at 
Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook


There have been some recent break-ins in Berlin. Perhaps you've already seen an email that is going around with some photos from a security camera of one particular break-in Monday morning. I did confirm at 5pm today with the Berlin police that these crimes are still unresolved. I don't post photos to my blog or to the Berlin, Vermont facebook page so if you didn't receive the email with photos and would like to, let me know and I'll forward to you.

Wearing a seat belt isn’t just a good idea, it’s the law in Vermont. So if you think you’ve seen more police out writing a lot more tickets lately—you’re not just imagining it. Every branch of law enforcement, every jurisdiction takes public safety very seriously, and that includes seat belts. For a very good reason—when you stop to consider that 65% of highway fatalities weren’t wearing seat belts, then you understand why it’s a statewide priority. And a secondary offence law which adds additional fines.
Go to this website for more facts and a brief video:

Included below please find:












in part from the Burlington Free Press posted on 5/27/12


  Laurie and Ernie Lavigne were celebrating the exploits of their son, Jacob, one of the very youngest hand-cycle competitors in the race. Jacob Lavigne, 16, of Montpelier, was racing ahead of the lead runners more than halfway through Sunday’s Vermont City Marathon.

  “Keep going, sweetie,” Laurie Lavigne, 50, called to her son as he rode past her up the Battery Street hill. “You’re doing great.”

  The Lavignes were profoundly proud of their son on Sunday, and marveled at his ability to compete despite very little training, they said. Jacob’s mother estimated that he tried hand cycling about three times this spring.

  He was inspired to compete because he plays sports with a lot of the other hand-cycle racers, she said.

  “The older guys are very inspirational to him,” she said of Jacob, a tenth-grader at U-32 High School.

  Jacob broke his back four years ago in a mountain biking accident and suffered significant paralysis.

  “Yesterday he said, ‘It’s gonna suck,’” Laurie Lavigne said Sunday of her son’s feelings in anticipation of the marathon. “And he was nervous. I know he’ll finish ‘cause he’s strong.”

  The race, she thought, would be a learning experience for him. The lesson: “That you should train.”

Posted on the U-32 Athletic Facebook Page -

U32's Jake Lavigne hand-cycles entire Vermont City Marathon! Finishes in 9th place in 2:21:58. Wow! Congrats, Jake. What an accomplishment!



The Berlin Historical Society will have an exhibit at the History Expo on June 16 and 17 at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds. The History Expo Theme this year will be the Civil War.  The banner at the front of the exhibit reads "Berlin Endures The Civil War".  137 Berlin Residents served the Union in the Civil War, another 15 paid a commutation fee of $300 not to serve or hired substitutes.  Admission: Adults - $10; Students - $5; Age 5 & under - Free; Weekend Family Pass - $20. Note: Half-Price admission for visitors in period dress!


(note - Jeremy and his family are in the process of moving into Berlin)



The Northfield News
  Jeremy Hansen, a professor at Norwich and a resident of Montpelier has announced that he is seeking a seat representing Washington County as an independent in Vermont’s State Senate. He made the announcement in Montpelier, Vermont at Kellogg Hubbard Library on Thursday.
  Mr. Hansen, an assistant professor of computer science, said, “We are living in the era of the Internet, smartphones, and increasingly powerful technology. That technology’s power has not translated well to empowering the modern voter. While we are living in the information age, we are getting by with horse-andbuggy representation. I intend to change that. Democracy is a muscle that must be exercised to work properly, but the system we have now does not allow for easy and ongoing participation by all citizens.”
  Mr. Hansen considers himself to be a problem solver, but admits that he doesn’t have all of the answers and says that he is open to a wide range of ideas. He said “often, candidates who ask to be elected will claim to have solutions to problems that citizens care about in their back pocket and that the candidates’ opinions and voices will accurately represent their constituents.” Mr. Hansen believes that a representative’s voice should be heard exactly as loudly as the opinions all of the other citizens he or she seeks to represent. “The best solutions reside in the minds and hands of the citizens, not with politicians. Vermonters can speak for themselves, and in a state this size, representatives in government must take a direct, personal, and most importantly, nonpartisan role in their communities.”
  Direct democracy provides the people with a direct, unfiltered voice in that government he added. Stopping somewhat short of that, Mr. Hansen proposes a system of direct democracy in combination with our current system of representative democracy. He suggested that, “A representative should be elected who would work strictly as an advisor and make all policy and voting decisions based on the will of his or her constituents, regardless of personal opinion.” He proposes a 3-part plan to empower Washington County citizens and develop a system of what he calls “direct representative democracy”:
  1) Hold regular (at least monthly) public meetings with any interested constituents in Washington County to discuss bills, issues, and creative solutions to citizen concerns.
  2) Provide an accessible online voting platform to allow discussion and voting on bills, the results of which he will carry to the State Senate.
  3) As the Vermont Constitution does not allow for recall of elected officials, he will sign a contract with the people of Washington County to promise to step down voluntarily if constituents vote to recall him for failing to accurately represent them.
  Born in Wisconsin, Mr. Hansen earned his Master’s and Doctorate degrees while holding fulltime positions in the field of information technology. He moved to Vermont after receiving his PhD and accepting a position at Norwich University. He teaches a variety of topics in computer science and information security, and conducts research on privacy in social networks, and security of medical systems. He lives with his wife and two young children in Montpelier, and in June will be moving into a new home in Berlin.



  Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Anne Donahue, who sat in on last week’s meeting in Berlin and is a state representative from Northfield and co-chair of the Mental Health Oversight Committee.
  To hear media reports last week, residents of Berlin were pressing the administration to make sure it doesn’t build Vermont’s new psychiatric hospital anywhere near its elementary school.
  The reports imply old stigmas: the fear of patient escapes endangering children.
That wasn’t an accurate picture of comments at a meeting held to give town folk the opportunity to provide input about two building sites the state is considering.
In fact, the word “school” didn’t come up once, apart from a reference in a completely different context.
  What the residents, select board and school board all showed was a clear-eyed understanding about both good town planning and good medical care.
The state began its presentation with officials and a day care operator from Waterbury to talk about what a problem-free neighbor the state hospital had been there. The state explained its security, and why the school would remain safe.
  When residents had their turn to speak, they were on a whole different track.
Two residents provided detailed descriptions of the town’s longstanding economic development goals for the large swath of “plateau” that is bordered by an auto dealership, the Berlin Mall, the school, the firehouse, and the state regional library – the state’s site option “A.”
  Berlin doesn’t have a town center that brings its disparate parts together as a community. The school doesn’t connect to any neighborhood. (Therein, the one use of the word, “school.”) This large piece of open land has been its one hope to develop that kind of an economic and social base.
  Other comments noted why it made sense to provide various medical services, including psychiatric hospital care, along one same stretch of property. Property option “B” is contiguous to the Central Vermont Medical Center campus.
Unlike the stereotypical NIMBY reaction (Not In My Back Yard) there has been no opposition expressed to hosting the new psychiatric hospital, as long as it is located in a way that is consistent with good planning.
  In other words Berlin is setting an example for the right way to collaborate with the mental health needs of our relatives, friends and neighbors.
Early in the meeting, Jeb Spaulding, the Secretary of Administration, said the key to the state’s decision would be to discern what was best for patients and what best respected the views of the town of Berlin. He said the state is currently pursuing both properties simultaneously.
  Spaulding said that in the ideal world those two interests would be “in sync.”
  As it turns out, they are.
  The “weight” among clinical experts is a preference for the CVMC site, Spaulding said in answer to a public question.
  He also received a joint letter last week from individual mental health peers, advocates and professionals with the Vermont chapters of the National Association of Social Workers, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, the Mental Health Counselors Association and the ACLU, as well as from Disability Rights Vermont, the Mental Health Law Project of Vermont Legal Aid, and the Vermont Psychiatric Association.
The letter asked the administration to consider “the site that can [best] bring all the resources of a medical center.”
  The Lgislature’s Mental Health Oversight Committee, full House, and full Senate each adopted the principle this past winter that, “The mental health system shall be integrated into the overall health care system, including the location of any new inpatient psychiatric facilities adjacent to or incorporated with a medical hospital.”
  This week, the administration has announced that it did, indeed, “take to heart” the input of the residents of Berlin and the mental health community. Spaulding wrote to town officials to say that the governor has agreed that the site adjacent to the medical complex will be pursued as the “preferred location.”
  Everyone is now “in sync,” and for all the right reasons.

Donahue later added this notation: This week, the administration has announced that it did, indeed, “take to heart” the input of the residents of Berlin and the mental health community. Spaulding wrote to town officials to say that the governor has agreed that the site adjacent to the medical complex will be pursued as the “preferred location.” Everyone is indeed now in sync, and for all the right reasons.


Andrew Nemethy -
  The state has chosen to locate a new 25-bed mental health hospital on a 20-acre parcel adjacent to the Central Vermont Medical Center.
  Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding notified Berlin officials and mental health organizations of the choice Monday by letter, saying, “The governor made it clear … that his priority is to put the interests of future patients and the residents of Berlin first.”
The state had encountered considerable opposition to an alternative site in Berlin being considered near the regional library on Paine Turnpike. The administration’s decision defuses a potential conflict over the alternative location.
  Berlin officials said they wanted to keep the Paine Turnpike site for possible development as a town center and raised concerns about the location’s proximity to the elementary school. A variety of mental health advocates and professionals urged the Shumlin administration not to choose the Paine Turnpike regional library site because its distance from the medical hospital would not provide the best treatment model for those with acute mental illness.
  Both argued that co-locating at the medical hospital was their strong preference.
The selection comes even though the state is still negotiating a contract for the property with the owners, Henry Lague Jr., Henry Lague III and Peter and Gail Rossiter, according to Buildings and General Services Commissioner Michael Obuchowski. Spaulding said while the total size of the parcel is 20 acres, the state is seeking to purchase only seven acres of the site for the new hospital.
  Berlin town administrator Jeff Schulz said the town was pleased the state had selected the site adjacent to CVMC for the new 30,000-square-foot mental health hospital. He said the town was “open and receptive to the idea of the facility being in Berlin” but noted the selectboard and townspeople were clear that they “very much preferred” the site adjacent to the hospital.
  Schulz said the only local permits needed would be approval of a local site plan and conditional use permit, as well as a curb cut permit from the selectboard.
Jeff Burley, an official with the state buildings division, said no Act 250 permit will be required because the land footprint for the hospital meets an exemption for projects under 10 acres.
  The state is in full-speed-ahead mode with the new state hospital project because of a shortage of acute-care beds following the closure of the 54-bed Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene last August. Spaulding told Berlin officials last week that the mental health system continues to be severely strained by the shortage and the state wants to build the hospital as quickly as possible.
Spaulding said the earliest the facility could be open is still estimated to be the beginning of 2014, 18 months from now.
  The new hospital will be part of a total overhaul of Vermont’s mental health care system adopted by the Legislature last session that boosts community treatment and creates three regional acute-care facilities to replace the Waterbury State Hospital. Besides the Berlin facility, the state will support 14 beds at the Brattleboro Retreat and six at Rutland Regional Medical Center.
  There were numerous voices urging the Shumlin administration to locate the facility at the CVMC site.
  Ed Paquin, the head of Disability Rights Vermont and a respected advocate in the Legislature, sent a letter along with 13 others urging Spaulding and Mental Health Commissioner Patrick Flood to chose the hospital location. The letter from Paquin was co-signed by a range of professionals and advocates in the mental health field, including Jack McCullough, director of the Mental Health Law Project of Vermont Legal Aid, Allen Gilbert, executive director of ACLU-Vermont, Alice Silverman, the president of the Vermont Psychiatric Association, and Diana Tetrault of the Vermont Mental Health Counselor’s Association.
  Paquin said he decided to draft the letter and see who would sign on after Rep. Anne Donahue. R-Northfield, “got me to thinking” about the issue. Donahue, who also signed the letter, had raised public concerns that locating the acute-care mental health facility separate from the medical center was an outmoded idea that would stigmatize mental health patients and not provide the best care.
  Paquin’s letter addressed that same point, saying the more distant Berlin location in an undeveloped field would create “an asylum,” which is the opposite of what is needed. “If people need hospital level care they should receive that care in the most integrated setting possible” adjacent to CVMC, the letter said.
In an interview before the state announced its decision, Paquin added that “mental health care is not an isolated thing. It should be integrated with other types of treatment.”
  While he praised the mental health overhaul passed by the Legislature and the Shumlin administration instituting a more community based model of care, he said replacing the old 54-bed Waterbury state hospital, flooded by Tropical Storm Irene, needs to address the needs of that population of patients needing acute care.
  “Our hospital-level beds should be reserved for hospital-level patients,” he said. “Their needs are often more complex and it really makes sense to afford them good access to all kinds of medical care.”
  Having the 25-bed hospital on the hospital campus with ready access is the best way to do that and to assure “parity,” he said.



  BERLIN — The Shumlin administration nipped a budding controversy in Berlin by agreeing Monday to site the new state-run psychiatric facility on a parcel preferred by residents here.
Berlin residents have said they’d welcome with open arms a 25-bed hospital designed to replace the Waterbury facility washed out by Tropical Storm Irene. But local support for the building was contingent on administration officials rejecting a possible location nearby the local elementary school.
  State officials had identified two possible locations. The so-called “Lague” property adjoins the campus of the
Central Vermont Medical Center. The second parcel, currently owned by Vermont Mutual, abuts the property on which the Berlin Elementary School sits.
  In a letter to
Berlin administrator Jeff Schulz, Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said Gov. Peter Shumlin has instructed the state officials to acquire the property nearest the medical center.
  Spaulding told Schulz that Shumlin “has made it clear to us that his piroirty is to put the interests of future patietns and the residents of
Berlin first.
  “As a result, he has agreed the fisher road site will be our preferred location,” Spaulding wrote. “Our efforts will be focused on acquiring, permitting and building on that location as quickly as possible.”
  A decision to go with the Vermont Mutual site could have seen the psychiatric facility built fewer than 1,000 feet from the kindergarten-through-4th grade school, a prospect that didn’t sit well with many in the town.
  Mental health advocates also preferred the Lague site, saying it was important for psychiatric patients to be integrated as seamlessly as possible into a traditional hospital setting.
  Spaulding told Schultz that if for some reason the Lague site falls through, the administration may have to reconsider.
  “If for some unknown reason that effort is thwarted, and I have no reason to think that will be the case, I remain convinced the (Vermont Mutual) location would be a fine location for the new hospital and that we can find ways to address the concerns of the residents of Berlin,” he said.



  BERLIN — Residents here say they’ll welcome with open arms a psychiatric hospital designed to replace the Waterbury facility washed out by Tropical Storm Irene.
  But local support for the 25-bed facility could quickly erode if administration officials opt to site the building near the local elementary school.
  That was the unanimous message from the 50 or so
Berlin residents that turned out for a special hearing on the hospital proposal Wednesday night.
  “You will find this town is very accepting and welcoming of different projects,” said Pat McDonald, who formerly represented
Berlin in the Vermont House. “But it’s location, location, location. And I cannot fathom it being next to the school.”
  State officials have identified two possible locations. The so-called “Lague” property adjoins the campus of the
Central Vermont Medical Center. The second parcel, currently owned by Vermont Mutual, abuts the property on which the Berlin Elementary School sits.
  A decision to go with the Vermont Mutual site could see the psychiatric facility built fewer than 1,000 feet from the kindergarten-through-fourth-grade school, a prospect that doesn’t sit well with many in the town.
  “I know what my constituents think, and they don’t want it near the school,” Rep. Patti Lewis, a Berlin Republican, said in a phone interview before the hearing Wednesday.
  “There are escapes that happen — it’s inevitable. And that facility, if it was built there, would be visible from the soccer field, if not the school.”
  Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said he appreciated the public input and that the will of residents “will be a major factor in the final decision.”
  But he wouldn’t abandon completely the possibility of the Vermont Mutual property, which he said offers some notable benefits over the Lague land.
  “The Lague site is smaller, closer to the road, not flat and it’s hemmed in by some power lines,” Spaulding said. “It’s like it couldn’t be done there, but the Vermont Mutual site is bigger, flatter, more sunny, has room for expansion if we need it, and is also very close to the hospital.”
  Financially, according to Spaulding, neither site offers any major advantages. The Vermont Mutual site will likely be cheaper, he said, but those savings would be wiped out by the water and sewer infrastructure it will require.
  “But I look at it and think, ‘if I was a patient, where would I rather spend some time?’” Spaulding said, “And I’d rather be on the Vermont Mutual site.”
Berlin residents aren’t the only ones urging Spaulding to opt for the Lague plan.
  Rep. Anne Donahue, a Northfield Republican and longtime mental health advocate, said that if
Vermont aims to construct a modern psychiatric facility, then it needs to be co-located near a traditional hospital campus.
  Though differences in ambulatory transport times between the Lague and Vermont Mutual sites wouldn’t be significant, Donahue said, the Lague site is within both eyeshot and close walking distance of the medical center.
  “It’s not about medical access in sense of how fast do you get somebody to the emergency room, it’s how much are you able to get doctors to come to the facility? How much collaboration do you get between the medical hospital and the psychiatric hospital?” Donahue said. “Anything not contiguous to a medical center doesn’t remotely meet the modern medical standard.”
  Donahue isn’t alone in the mental health community with her concerns.
  In a letter sent to Spaulding on Wednesday, a coalition of some of the state’s leading advocates said the Lague site will help ensure the integration of mental health into conventional medical care.
  And concerns over proximity to the school aren’t the only knock on the Vermont Mutual land.
Berlin resident Corinne Stridsberg said that property has long been eyed by town officials as a future downtown.
  “The town has spent a lot of time developing a town center plan … and that is the area,” she said. “We’re a very parsed out town … We aspire to have a town center, and I would hate to lose that.”
  Spaulding said he’ll consider residents’ input as he crafts a final plan. He said he doesn’t have a firm deadline for making a decision, but that he hopes to have shovels in the ground by fall. He said the hospital won’t be ready for patients until fall of 2013 at the earliest.
  “It’s helpful to hear the opinions and it will take us a little time to assimilate those and I’m not ready to make any conclusions,” Spaulding said.
  Spaulding said he was heartened by the town’s willingness to play host to the new facility.
  “We could be dealing with a situation where
Berlin didn’t want us at all,” he said. “And I didn’t hear one person say that.”

(note: for those who don't know Berlin Elementary School is a preK - 6th grade school)



By David Delcore, STAFF WRITER (pub 6/6/12)
  BERLIN — There are some monster bass in Berlin Pond, and the commissioner of the state Fish & Wildlife Department has decided that’s just where they should stay.
  At least for now.
  With bass season set to open Saturday, Commissioner Patrick Berry announced it’s going to be purely “catch and release” at a pond that hasn’t been seriously fished in more than a century.
  It’s not that
Berry has anything against licensed anglers reeling in a bass, or two, or even five or six on any given day, it’s just that the bass in Berlin Pond still have a lot to learn about fishing.
  That, Berry said Monday, is why he decided to intercede on behalf of Berlin Pond bass that he fears may be a little too easy to catch.
Berry said scientific studies support that theory and his decision to exercise his discretion to enact a temporary rule.
  “Studies of unexploited fish populations, like those in Berlin Pond, suggest that these populations are often comprised of a high proportion of old, slow-growing fish, which are vulnerable to angling and rapid depletion when opened to fishing,” the new rule states.
  “They’re naïve to fishing,”
Berry said suggesting the new rule will be good for the bass — both largemouth and smallmouth — and even better for Berlin Pond.
  “If we let people take five or six bass a day that pond could be wiped out in no time,” he predicted.
  The lure of trophy bass and the likelihood of actually catching one in Berlin Pond only compound the problem, according to
  “That’s pushing a rock down hill that’s not going to stop,” he said.
Berry’s solution is a rule that will make it “catch and release” when it comes to bass in Berlin Pond for three years. That, he said, should give the fish time to become more savvy and department personnel more time to reacquaint themselves with what lies beneath the surface of a pond that was considered off limits until a recent ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court.
  According to
Berry, state biologists know about as much about Berlin Pond as the bass in the pond know about fishing. He said the three-year grace period should provide the department with an opportunity to begin compiling the data it will need to properly manage the 256-acre pond for years to come.
  The last time the department did any sampling at Berlin Pond was back in 1995. Before that it was 1979. Those studies revealed that the pond supports yellow perch, brown bullhead, chain pickerel, pumpkinseed, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.
  Only the bass are affected by the new rule, which was enacted under a statute that gives the commissioner of the Fish & Wildlife Department broad discretion to designate “test waters” that limit, or restrict the “propagation” of certain fish.
  Berry stressed his decision was simply an attempt to ensure the long-term viability of the pond as a recreational resource for Vermonters, and most people he’d discussed it with understood and supported the restriction.
Berry said he was pleased to have to make the decision and credited two local sportsmen who successfully challenge Montpelier’s authority to regulate the recreational use of its water supply.
  “I absolutely applaud the anglers who pushed this issue and took it all the way to the (
Vermont) Supreme Court,” he said.



  By David Delcore,   Staff Writer (pub 6/4/12)
BERLIN — To post, or not to post?
  When it comes to a town-owned parcel that features 85 feet of shoreline on Berlin Pond that is the question that will be squarely before
Berlin’s Select Board tonight, and it may make deciding whether to buy a Taser or two for the police department seem simple.
  On a night when they are again scheduled to consider a request that they arm at least some of their police officers with Tasers and to decide whether to take a public position on the state’s plan to build a scaled down version of the Vermont State Hospital in their community, Select Board members may have bigger fish to fry.
  Berlin Pond is expected to dominate discussion during the
7 p.m. session as it did two weeks ago when more than two dozen residents who live around the pond turned out in force to urge the board to do everything in its power to keep people from using it in ways the Vermont Supreme Court recently ruled they can.
  In an effort to deter folks interested in kayaking, canoeing or fishing on the pond the coalition of concerned residents urged the board to follow the City of Montpelier’s lead and post “No Trespassing” signs on the postage stamp-sized parcel — four-tenths of an acre in all — that the town owns off Paine Turnpike South. They also requested the board pursue an ordinance that would create new parking restrictions around the pond, making it more difficult – but not impossible – to legally access the water.
  Board members agreed to head in that direction, but
Berlin resident Ernie Lavigne says he hopes they have a change of heart.
  Lavigne, who attended that meeting two weeks ago but chose not to speak, said he is less likely to hold his tongue when the issue resurfaces tonight because he believes the board needs to balance the rights of those who live around the pond with those who want to use it.
  “It’s not their pond,” Lavigne said of the group of outspoken residents who have called on the town to adopt and enforce restrictions aimed at making it harder for people, like him and his teenage son to enjoy.
  “It’s our (Vermonters’) pond,” he added.
  According to Lavigne, that includes his son, who is paralyzed from the waist down but is perfectly capable of kayaking and welcomed the chance to do so on the pond that is located not far from his home in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
  Lavigne said he has twice been kayaking with his son and, due to the pond’s proximity to his home, would love the opportunity to use it regularly.
  “We would use it a lot if we could get in there without a lot of hassle,” he said.
  Lavigne said he has “no problem” with reasonable restrictions, but resents what he views as a not-so-subtle attempt to discourage use of a public resource.
  “That’s my main concern,” said Lavigne, who is in the process of persuading like-minded
Berlin residents to join him in a letter-writing campaign that he hopes will influence the board.
  Town Administrator Jeff Schulz said board members have started to here from some of those people though it was unclear whether it would deter them from posting the town-owned parcel, or pursuing parking restrictions.
  Since the board’s last meeting, Schulz said he learned the board has the authority to unilaterally post the town property, though restricting parking would require an ordinance change that includes a very public process. He said the board will consider how to proceed on both fronts when it meets tonight.
  On Sunday the pond got a steady, but hardly overwhelming workout, as people launched kayaks, canoes and at least one boat with an electric trolling motor from the public right-of-way on
Mirror Lake Road throughout the course of the day. Those water craft were never audible and only occasionally visible to the large numbers of walkers, joggers, and cyclists and at least two people on horseback who circled the perimeter of the two-mile-long pond.
  There wasn’t much fishing from shore, though Barre resident Mike Bell and his sons, Alex, 12, and Caleb, 11, spent a portion of the mid-afternoon fishing near the culvert on
Mirror Lake Road.
  “We decided to check it out,” said
Bell, who started fishing right about the time Hank Buermann was heading for home.
  Though he lives in neighboring
Northfield, Buermann said he might join Lavigne at tonight’s board meeting.
  “This is the kind of thing that can fire me up,” said Buermann, who regularly jogs around the pond and wants to know what the City of
Montpelier hasn’t removed signs from its waters that suggest they are still off limits to those interested in boating, fishing and swimming.
  “Those signs should be out of there,” he said.
  According to Buermann, he hadn’t considered using the pond as anything other than something to jog around — as he did on Sunday afternoon — until now.
  “I probably wouldn’t have (gone fishing or kayaking), but since
Montpelier is making such a stink about it I probably will,” he said.
Northfield resident Bruce Baroffio expressed a similar sentiment before launching a two-member kayak with his wife, Penny, on Sunday afternoon.
  “Anything to (expletive deleted) off the elites,” he said.
  Baroffio said he had long respected, but never understood the ban on recreational use of a pond that serves as
Montpelier’s public drinking water supply.
  “All my life I’ve wanted to paddle around this pond to see what it looks like and now I’m going to get the chance,” he said.
  For the moment the moment the Berlin-owned parcel represents one of the only ways to legally access the pond, but because most people have no idea where it is located they are using Mirror Lake Road as to gain access to a pond that is nearly surrounded by now-posted land that is owned by Montpelier.
  By David Delcore,   Staff Writer (pub 6/6/12)
  BERLIN — The post-court battle over Berlin Pond was joined this week as those who support reasonable recreational access to Montpelier’s drinking water supply took issue with those who argue that would be a tragic mistake.
  The discussion spanned more than two hours, featured plenty of passion on both sides, as well as an interesting offer from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. However, when it was over Monday night the only thing that was crystal clear is the next time the Select Board wants to talk about the pond it had better book a bigger room.
  If board members needed any evidence that pond politics is murky business they got it from a standing-room-only crowd that peppered them with questions, opinions and advice in the wake of a Vermont Supreme Court ruling that struck down a prohibition on recreational use of the pond that had stood unchallenged for more than a century.
  Heading into Monday’s meeting the board — a small, but important player in a much larger debate over use of the pond — was faced with a single question. Should it post “No Trespassing” signs on a tiny parcel of land that was deeded to
Berlin by a town resident Mildred Hayden back in 1954?
  Residents interested in a definitive answer to that question left disappointed, and board members agreed to take it up when they meet in two weeks.
  On Monday the board just listened …
  … And listened …
  … And listened.
  And if Chairman Brad Towne hadn’t called an end to the discussion there’s no telling how long folks with diametrically opposed views would have kept on talking.
  It was that kind of night, and it began with Mike Wichrowski informing board members that the state Department of Fish and Wildlife stood “… ready, willing and able” to assist them in developing a public access to the pond on town-owned land that is located on Paine Turnpike South.
  “I think all options are on the table for us to work with the town and come up with a(n) access plan,” Wichrowski said, noting that the department has made a similar offer to
Montpelier, which owns and has posted most of the rest of the land surrounding the pond.
  The state’s offer to invest in developing and maintaining an appropriately sized public access to the pond was greeted with predictably mixed reviews. Some maintained it would clear up any confusion — and there is still a good bit of it — over how to legally get to a pond that Wichrowski described as “a valuable public resource.” Others worried opening that door would have a detrimental effect on what one characterized as “… a pure, unspoiled resource.”
  On a night when the board heard from armchair experts on everything from milfoil and zebra mussels to the Vermont Constitution and the Public Trust Doctrine, Wichrowski sought to dispel concerns that those with fishing poles, kayaks and canoes would, or could, destroy what he conceded was something of a rarity in Vermont — a pond that isn’t ringed by camps and other seasonal dwellings.
  “It (Berlin Pond) is unique,” Wichrowski said, echoing sentiments expressed by those who spoke passionately about the pond’s value as habitat for birds and other wildlife.
  “All we’re talking about is providing a little point of entry for a few people to go out and enjoy that,” he added.
  And, that’s where Wichrowski took issue with some of the bleaker forecasts advanced by those who said they feared even limited public use of the pond would keep loons from nesting and spoil what many view as a special wildlife sanctuary.
  “The wildlife in Berlin Pond are disturbed beyond belief, you can hear it right now — it’s called I-89,” he said.
  The board got a much different opinion from Tom Willard and other members of the town’s conservation commission, who suggested the pond was an important resource that should be preserved and protected at all costs — at least until Montpelier decides how to respond to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.
  “It just seems to be a little premature to talk about access issues when the regulatory process isn’t concluded,” Willard said.
Northfield resident Hank Buermann disagreed, suggesting it didn’t much matter what residents on either side of the issue thought.
  “Every argument I’ve heard here tonight has to do whether or not people ought to have access to the water. That question has been decided,” he said. “The question is whether
Berlin wants to restrict access of its own residents and other people … to that water thereby circumventing what the (Supreme) Court has decided.”
  Several residents noted they’d found what they believed was a legal way to gain access to the pond and sought some assurance from town officials that they weren’t breaking any rules by stepping off Mirror Lake Road into the public right of way that overlaps the pond.
  One man said he’d recently put in his kayak on in the right of way off Mirror Lake Road, paddled from the south end to the north end of the pond and back again and “… caught the biggest bass I ever caught.”
  “Did I break any law doing this?” he asked.
  “Absolutely not,” Wichrowski said. “It (the pond) is a public resource.”
  Towne agreed, provided the man parked his vehicle in a way that didn’t impede traffic.
  However, some residents urged the board to accept the state’s offer to develop a modest access area that would be safer, and provide an opportunity to install an informational kiosk. That, they argued, would reduce pressure on the fragile bird habitat located at the south end of the pond and prevent people from coming up with creative and potentially dangerous ways to get on the pond.
  “I think we need to provide safe, limited, controlled access,” one woman said.
  Others, like Phil Gentile, argued there are plenty of other places in central
Vermont to swim and boat and fish and there was some value to preserving Berlin Pond. At a minimum, they urged the board to proceed with caution.
  “I think we should give it time … before we go charging into opening up such a natural habitat with reflection (and) without science to back the decision you make,” said Gentile, who serves on the conservation committee and whose home overlooks the pond.
  Gentile’s view was shared by several residents who said they saw no good reason to open Berlin Pond to recreational use.
  “It is as relevant to say: ‘Leave it alone,’ as it is to say: ‘Use it,’” one woman said.
  Some worried about trash and others argued the shift in use allowed by the court’s recent decision would alter the character of the place where they recreate.
  “If it becomes a fishing and a boating place where do the people that use it now go?” one woman asked.
  “We all play together,” replied Barre resident Rick Barnett, one of the men responsible for challenging
Montpelier’s right to regulate the pond.
  Buermann said
Montpelier miscalculated when it filed a civil lawsuit against Barnett and Barre Town residents Cedric and Leslie Sanborn, who were arrested for kayaking on the pond back in 2009.
  “They (
Montpelier) chose to make this a court issue, they lost, and now they’re asking you to be complicit in their own mishandling of this situation,” he told the board.
  Board members acknowledged competing interests, but made no commitments.
  Towne said he had “mixed feelings” about the issue, but was interested in exploring the state’s offer to develop a public access. Even if the board is willing, he said, it is unlikely that work would be completed this year.



  As a lifelong resident of Barre City having spent countless mornings enjoying the wildlife and peace of Berlin Pond, it is heartbreaking to know that a few individuals set about actions that have placed the pristine nature of this little jewel in jeopardy of becoming another overcrowded water park.
  In my reasoning, the needs of the few do not outweigh the needs of the many: in this case, the wildlife of Berlin Pond deserves protection from the onslaught of human intrusion on the water. Because the Supreme Court decided in favor of opening the water for recreation, in the wake of this decision we have seen the pond become an all out destination of anglers and boaters wanting to use the pond for recreation. And along with this, we have seen a huge increase in roadside trash and destruction of waterside property. I have found bottles and cans in the water, countless cigarette butts, wrappers, discarded fishing gear and dirty diapers, all photographed for documentation. I have even seen people urinating in the water. This blatant disrespect for the environment is worrisome and offensive.
  It is not a selfish act of the residents of Berlin Pond to want the pond to remain undisturbed. Nor is it selfish to ask the Berlin Select Board to stand united with
Montpelier’s efforts to protect an important body of water that is a drinking supply. It is simply common sense. With rock snot and zebra mussels on the rise, who can monitor the watercraft that will be putting in? The pollution of the pond is inevitable unless we take a stand and fight for the birds, fish, and other creatures who call the pond home and have done so unmolested for over a century.
  There are over 280 other lakes and ponds in
Vermont available for recreation. Berlin Pond should be allowed to remain a pristine environment for all to enjoy. I respectfully encourage the Berlin Select Board to take a stand and do what is right. Keep the pond the way it was.

Susan Sanderson, Barre

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