PUTNEY — I am saddened and frustrated by what is happening in Putney. It certainly never has been an ideal community, but I have always felt, as both a resident and a past Selectboard member, that despite differences there was a level of respect and neighborliness.
But that seems to have changed.
There are rumors and accusations that people are terrorists, that they are connected to organized crime, that the housing projects are simply money laundering schemes, that “those people” will bring more crime and drugs, that Putney should remain unchanged, that if there is housing built it should be for people who are only from Putney.
I ask my neighbors: Please think about this.
Spreading rumors about people is not what we are about. “Those people” are firefighters, teachers' aides, health care workers, retired folks, disabled people, social workers, counselors, factory workers, and other members of the community.
On most middle-income salaries people cannot afford to rent in Putney: The average rent for a one-bedroom is $1,557; for a two-bedroom, $1,977. Consider whether you or those you know could pay that much on your income.
“Those people” do not bring crime and drugs. I hate to say this, but drugs are already here. And Putney's crime rate has been decreasing - in fact, it is 7 percent lower than the state average. Some of the future tenants of the proposed affordable-housing development will succumb to dependence on drugs, and some may commit crimes, but no more so than those of us who are already here.
Putney should remain unchanged? We moved to Putney in 1984. Is that when it should stand still?
Since then, much has changed. We have Landmark College, a new Co-op, a new library, a new winery, Putney Meadows, and Putney Commons, just to mention a few examples. Folks who have lived here much longer might say those changes were also unwelcomed.
So where does it stand still and not change? From when I was a kid? From when I moved here? From when the oldest resident can remember?
And rent only to people from Putney? What does that mean? How many of us are “from Putney”?
We moved here; many of the people I know moved here. Were we welcomed, or were people saying that our house should have been sold/rented/built only by someone who was already here?
So why now would we want to say only Putneyites should be able to rent in the proposed project?
Would that also hold true for private rentals, houses being sold, businesses being started? Should we let only Putney folks in and tell the rest of the world that we are closed to them?
So please, people - let's try to be rational. Let's be a welcoming community and stop vilifying people and creating angst.