St. J's old business model clashes with new

To the Editor:

Efforts to raise $55,000 or so to restore the Arnold Park fountain have been going on now for about three years and somewhere around $13,000 has been raised to cover the three-year-old cost estimate to restore the statue, I guess. Now we're hearing eloquent explanations of how easy it will suddenly be to get grant money and substantial donations by early March to pay for the restorations so that the statue can be returned to the top of the fountain in time for a newly manufactured artificial deadline of Memorial Day 2012.

While this debate may seem frivolous to some, it exemplifies the old St. J. way of getting things done. Repeatedly, I asked the select board to wait until enough money to pay for the job had been raised before turning over this presumed priceless artifact to a restoration company. They repeatedly assured me that was the plan. That is until their last meeting when the fountain statue project appeared on the agenda once again. After several minutes of mind-boggling irrational justification as to why it was a good idea to turn over possession of this citizen owned priceless asset, and in spite of several logical arguments for why this would not be a prudent financial decision, the majority of the board decided to defy common business sense apparently in favor of demonstrating who's still boss in this town.

They based their change of plans merely on a new letter they had received stating that the restoration company would store the statue until the bill is paid in full. You've got to be kidding me. Of course they'd "store" it until the bill was paid in full. Wouldn't you?

Here's the real issue with the Arnold Park Fountain Restoration process. The committee wants to get this thing over with. And I don't blame them for that! They've worked very hard to raise money. At the present rate though, the cost of inflation will outpace the fund raising. The plan is to send the statue off right away without the necessary money to cover the cost of the restoration work or any assurance that we won't somehow lose this priceless piece of St. Johnsbury's history. Then in March the supporters will simply manipulate, or guilt-trip the voters into approving a request for the ransom money needed to get The Lady back! Presto, project paid for. Come on. Stop it. That's not how we do things in St. Johnsbury any longer.

Mike Fortier

St. Johnsbury, Vt.

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