More time needed to decide MET's fate

By The Camden Herald Editorial Board | Nov 30, 2017

News reporters attend a lot of government and school board meetings, and in turn, write a lot about what is said there. They will follow an issue discussed for a year, or two or five.

So, in this respect, we sympathize with the School Administrative District 28 superintendent, School Board and Building Committee members who have long worked on planning to build a new middle school in Camden. After years of work, they now find that the future of the old school, the Mary E. Taylor building, is uppermost on the minds of numerous members of the public.

Several years ago, the School Board proposed to renovate MET and build a new middle school, but the public turned that down. At one point, the board thought of giving the building to the town of Camden in hopes it would find a better home. More recently, the board decided to demolish MET and build a new school, and voters approved that at the referendum.

A month before the vote, concerned members of the public realized MET was to be torn down, and objected. In discussions with the School Board, these members of the public secured a statement from the superintendent that a vote for demolition did not require the demolition to occur.

After talking about demolishing MET for a year, the board is now wringing its hands over what appears be a groundswell of public opinion supporting the renovation and reuse of MET.

In the summer, when the school district announced that any fate for MET other than demolition would require another public vote, the concern level of certain members of the public elevated to red-flag status.

The lesson in all of this is something that public officials and news reporters already know.

Voters pay attention to ballot items at the polls the month before the vote, and often make their decisions the week before. They do not necessarily follow all of the twists and turns, and "i"-dotting and "t"-crossing that leads up to a vote.

Therefore, during that last month, and last week, when the public is most interested, it is the job of the media, government and school boards to communicate boldly and clearly about upcoming ballot issues, even if they have done this a hundred times before.

In light of all this, if the public is asking for more time to determine the fate of MET; perhaps the School Board should allow it.

Better business practices at the Snow Bowl

As the ski season approaches, a new town manager and Snow Bowl general manager are in place. New business practices are already in evidence.

For the first time in decades, the Snow Bowl chose a food vendor for the 2017-18 ski season by issuing a request for proposals, which generated five responses from qualified businesses. The request for proposals is an open process, where any citizen can read about the town's requirements for the contract, what the responding businesses offer, and their qualifications.

Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell recently mentioned that a request for proposals will soon be issued for the 2018-19 season's ski rental and equipment concession.

We hope the town uses this request for proposals to promote its vision of four-season recreation on the mountain; that the best business wins; and that sound business decisions will be made for the benefit of townspeople, and the skiers, mountain bikers, runners and hikers who enjoy the area.

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