The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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Derailing progress toward a long-term plan for growth?

Dear Editor,

I believe that achieving solid, sustainable,  economic  development in our resort town should be an ongoing topic of discussion with input from not only our elected officials, but all segments of our population. Once consensus on a chosen path is reached, there should naturally be opportunities to evaluate and correct course with ever evolving circumstances.

But I also believe that all proposals and discussions must be based on fact and not fiction.

Regarding Mr. Rome's statement and radical departure from the current, approved strategy, please allow me to present some indisputable facts:
•    On April 10, 2012 the Selectboard unanimously adopted a strategic operating plan. Goal #3 is to "increase tourism and year round employment" and was further characterized as supporting the long term health and sustainability of our community. Key actions in this plan include "invest in Summer and Fall tourism" and "prioritize Gateway and Trails projects." In one page of the strategic plan "Four Season Tourism" is portrayed as an essential piece of the path to lower taxes.
•    In the very well attended VCRD forums, which paved the way for the development of a town-wide concept for economic development, one of the top four goals identified by unanimous consensus of involved citizens, was the improvement and beautification of the Route 4 corridor, or Gateway to Killington, and has continued to be applauded and encouraged by the populace.
•    The business model of the past for ski and other resort towns was concentration on one season as the single economic driver. The new, nearly universal paradigm for economic survival of resort towns is now creation of multi-season business opportunities.
•    In the summer of 2012 most businesses in Killington remained open. Any assertion to the contrary is simply not true.
•    The summer events which took place brought increased business to town. Three specific examples (but by far not the only ones): the Spartan Race resulted in a number of visitors equivalent to those of a busy ski season weekend; the Killington Classic also brought significant numbers of visitors to the town and promises to continue to do so; the Killington Hay Festival has once again been chosen as one of the Vermont Chamber Top 10 Fall events.

There are no silver bullets to jump start our economy, but with a patient, methodical, and above all consistent approach we are moving this town forward. The spirit of the community has begun to lift, and I am disheartened to see a sudden potential shift in that momentum and in the positive steps already underway. I implore the members of the selectboard to consider fact and not to derail the progress already made and the truly visionary long-term plan for growth, beautification and viability.

Jeanne Karlhuber