WWHT project needs better planning in the interest of Putney and its residents

PUTNEY — The Windham-Windsor Housing Trust has helped a lot of people in need of affordable housing.

Our economy and lifestyles make it so that many people cannot afford the basic necessities of survival even when they are working more than 40 hours a week at minimum wage. In my opinion, this situation is only getting worse.

There are also those who simply cannot work and those who have worked their entire lives and need time, deserve time, to not be working.

The WWHT has had tremendous success buying properties and selling the house while maintaining rights to the property on which the home is built. Taxes are still paid, and someone gets an affordable home!

It is unfortunate that so many people are afflicted by the opioid epidemic that, in my opinion, is mostly caused by the greed of the pharmaceutical companies. It is unfortunate that the burden of the result of the opioid epidemic is falling on every person, at many different levels, while the culprits sail their yachts to tropical havens where they can't be held accountable.

It is also unfortunate that the Housing Trust is left with the difficult job of housing many of those afflicted with opioid addiction because so many of them are at a level of financial desperation.

As we've seen in the news, almost every “cluster housing project” owned and managed by the Housing Trust has seen a large share of the “major drug busts” in our region. Housing is suffering a huge shortage, and even the WWHT is desperate to find locations to create more affordable housing.

My personal experience with the former Dalem's Chalet has been nothing short of a nightmare, and how the WWHT could ever be allowed to have this designated drug rehab/transition facility next door to Brattleboro's biggest elementary school is ridiculous! (Just to mention part of that nightmare.)

So, now the plan is to build housing for 49 new residents in Putney, next to senior housing on the large piece of open green space, the “doormat” to the town.

Let's first thank the Putney residents who kindly bought the property in order to protect it from being developed by a corporate franchise and also for allowing the farmers' market and community garden to be there and continue to be there!

Kudos to that group of thoughtful, generous people who have agreed to sell to the WWHT for a multi-unit housing complex. All good intentions and maybe a sign that there is hope!

However, let's do a little more planning; let's find a happy medium and build something that provides office space and business space so services are available to all residents and increases tax revenues in conjunction with affordable housing - maybe with oversight and management, please.

How about a dentist office in Putney? How about a park within the complex? How about a historical marker/site or cultural site highlighting the region's agricultural strengths, mixed with businesses, art studios, business incubation?

How about highlighting green innovation or providing a technology center where people could get training for new careers?

Maybe a second or expanded medical facility so that there's more than one doctor and six nurses trying to cover the health care of more than 2,000 residents and 49 new ones planned for the expansion of our downtown affordable housing?

How about generating enough tax revenue so that we can add more peace officers and fire and rescue personnel? We do have a shortage! The current proposal is for 49 new residents and tax revenues of $20,000 per year. That's $408 per person. I pay $2,000 per person for the four residents at my property in Putney.

This in not rocket science. This is simply better planning.

I am happy to have affordable housing added in our community, I'm happy to chip in, as community members should.

The WWHT should build next door in East Putney, where we have lots of room! Just do it thoughtfully, please.

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