Yes to Article 11
To the Editor:
Proponents of the current effort to place a massive landfill in Dalton within throwing distance of Forest Lake and in the midst of sensitive wetland areas have leaned heavily on the argument that most of those opposing this project are “out-of-towners”, “tourists”, “lakies”, and NIMBYs who selfishly want to preserve their fancy lakefront vacation properties and don’t care about the wellbeing of Dalton and its residents. This argument is simplistic, wrong, and offensive, and it avoids the very real issues surrounding this project.
I am not currently a resident of NH or Dalton; however, my family has owned property on Forest Lake and paid taxes to Dalton for nearly 120 years, and I find the assertion that my interests in the region don’t matter to be patently offensive. My great grandfather, Dr. Richard Wilder, was the town doctor in Whitefield, and in 1902 he was one of the first people in the area to purchase property on Round Pond, now named Forest Lake. He wanted a peaceful spot to gather with his three children, Dean, Isabelle, and Richard, and his many friends whose visits are recorded in our camp log dating back to 1903. Isabelle eventually taught science in Whitefield High School (her textbooks are still on the shelves of our cottage on the lake), and Dean was appointed to the Naval Academy and served as a commander in the Navy during World War II. Richard remembered sliding down the Cog Railway on a Devil’s Shingle while doing summer work on the tracks and Dean helped secure the turnbuckles that held the Old Man’s face to the mountain. My mother, Dean’s daughter, brought me to the lake every summer and now I bring my children there every season.
I have moved all around the country in my 54 years, but I consider Forest Lake and Dalton to be my home, and I care deeply about the lake, the town, and the region as my parents, and their parents, and their parents before them did. The hundreds of thousands of dollars we have dutifully paid to the town of Dalton in taxes over the years are hard evidence of that.
We all have things that we don’t want in our backyards. That doesn’t make our interests wrong. I’m sure many of those supporting the landfill can think of lots of things they wouldn’t like moving in next door to their homes. And they might be right to object. Why on Earth would Dalton, an area with extraordinary natural resources including the Dalton Ridge, Forest Lake, miles of Connecticut river frontage, and proximity to the White Mountains choose to squander it’s opportunities by becoming a dumping site for garbage? I can think of a hundred different lucrative industrial uses for Mr. Ingerson’s property, and I would object to few of them. But a landfill’s impact does not stay within the borders of the landfill. It has been well documented that odors, incessant noise, truck traffic, scavenger birds, leachate leaks (like the one just reported in Bethlehem), and other contaminants affect all those in the vicinity of the site and beyond the borders of Dalton. These are not petty NIMBY concerns, these are real issues that will have a real impact on Dalton, its tax base, and its economic future.
I urge those fortunate enough to be able to vote in Dalton to show up on June 8th and vote “Yes” on Warrant Article 11, extending Temporary Emergency Zoning for one year. The zoning law voted in two years ago has not stopped any homeowner’s project, but it affords the town a means for controlling its own destiny. Don’t let this big out-of-state corporation peddling it’s polluting industry with the enticement of some quick and easy cash take advantage of the people of Dalton and turn the town into the dumping ground for the North Country. My Great Grandfather would be so disappointed.
Dalton, N. H.