Editorial: Chester, start your economic engine

Cynthia Prairie

Cynthia Prairie

When The Chester Telegraph started producing its Telegraph Polls shortly after its own launch back in January of 2012, we thought it would be a great way to continue conversations and register opinions that until then were only rarely conducted in public.

The results have been heartening and enlightening.

I bring the Telegraph Poll up now because of something one Chester Select Board member said at its meeting two weeks ago that again addressed Barre Pinske’s suggestion that the town build a fairgrounds on Route 103, across from the Heritage Deli.

To quote Tom Bock, “I like your proposal.” But, he added, five people had either run into him on the street or called him to say that the project wouldn’t benefit everyone in the town, that it wasn’t in the economic interest of “most of the taxpayers in this town.”

Aside from the fact that we would be hard pressed to find anyone who has ever created a good project that would benefit most of the people in any town, let’s look at some numbers. Five out of 3,154. (3,154 was the population of Chester according to the 2010 Census. Five is the number of people expressing their disapproval to Tom Bock for Pinske’s idea.)

Here’s some other numbers: 54 out of 78. That’s how many people registered their support – in the latest Telegraph Poll — of a fairgrounds (with or without a visitors kiosk) at Route 103; 19 don’t support either the kiosk or the fairgrounds and 5 believe a kiosk on Route 103 would be helpful in directing visitors to the Green, but believe that the fairgrounds is a bad idea.

The comments – both in The Telegraph comment section accompanying the original article on the subject and its accompanying Telegraph Poll – make it quite obvious that despite the five people who expressed their singular view to Tom Bock, Chester residents and interested parties have a wide range of views on the subject but an overriding belief that we need to start the economic engine of Chester now.

Read the poll results. Then read the comments at the bottom of each and you’ll see people registering their support, interest or concern for the proposal. No matter what their views, whether they have registered their opinion in our comments sections, anonymously in our poll or on our Facebook page, they care and their views matter.

Next, I’ll talk about the results of the other polls that we have taken that bolster the view that Chester residents long to see economic and cultural growth in the town. In the meantime, feel free to comment below. (My general rule for comments and letters to the editor is: Insult me all you wish, just don’t be rude to others.)

A note about the Telegraph Polls. When we set up the Telegraph Polls, we programmed it to stop multiple votes from a single user. Is it scientific? No. And if someone really wanted to and had a bit of computer savvy, she could get around the system. But it is obvious from the numbers of people who vote and the way in which they vote, the Telegraph Poll gives a pretty clear indication of what our 6,000 to 8,000 unique readers each month want to see for the town of Chester.

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Filed Under: CommentaryTelegraph Editorial

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Barre Pinske says:

    Cynthia,

    It is nice of you to keep this topic front and center. As much as I think it would be great to have our town own the land, management by the Select Board would probably not be a good idea. I have great respect for their conservatism with respect to spending and the importance of their job but it is highly unlikely they as a group can put on a venture capitalist hat and see the future.

    I see vendors under a shelter renting spaces and selling their produce and crafts, festivals bringing folks to town staying in our inns and eating in our restaurants. What I am proposing is old-school micro-business where a vendor can pay $25 for a space and have a chance to grow, a place to gather and have fun and a feeder for income. How much vacant space do we have in town?

    How many businesses are struggling? What do we have to offer over other towns? We have a river of gold on Route 103, but we are not panning it well. Let’s move this forward with a non-profit. Next year it will be rolling.