Protect the Putney Farmers Market, and Community Garden, and create a vibrant town center.

Protect the Putney Farmers Market, and Community Garden, and create a vibrant town center.

316 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
Petition to
Residents and neighbors of Putney

Why this petition matters

Started by Earthseed Commons

Dear Gateway property owners,

The controversy around the new Evernorth and Windham and Windsor Housing Trust project on your Alice Holway Drive property has made one thing very clear: the immense gift that your patience and generosity has been for Putney.  The current struggles have crystallized just how valuable the gateway property is to the heart and future of our town.  Your willingness to absorb the hassles and costs of keeping the land open and usable, available to residents and visitors, has been a priceless gift — though a heavy price to you, no doubt! 

It’s unfortunate that it has taken us this long to recognize the value of the property, and what a future Putney without this locus of open green communal space would look like and do to the spirit of the town.  But we are finally there, and determined to protect and maintain the property as a resource and benefit for all.

This letter is to urge you to reconsider the sale to Evernorth investors and Windham and Windsor for their sixth address in Putney.  The alarming number of issues and concerns specific to this project aside — a single corporate entity holding a near monopoly of rental units, with risk and instability for tenants; mismanagement and lack of attention and resources provided to the already existing WWHT addresses; lack of Town resources to address safety concerns, strain on existing services and infrastructure; pedestrian and traffic safety; lack of adequate parking; lack of services and transportation to support tenants; distrust, and existing and potential conflicts of interest and legal vulnerabilities that might arise for the Town; relegating Putney to being little more than a satellite unit of Brattleboro; potential loss of Putney Meadows' garden and helipad  — there remain at least two compelling reasons to reconsider the sale.

First is cost to the Town and domino effects on housing.  With large increases in property taxes and costs of living already on the horizon, taking on a sixth WWHT project in Putney, with their limited tax participation, it is all but certain that some existing tenants and homeowners will lose their properties, and others will be pushed into ever more tenuous situations.  Further convoluting issues, WWHT by law cannot prioritize those already living or working in Putney, and with the historically very low percentage of WWHT units going to people already living and working in Putney (1% by some accounts), the project would do little if anything to address Putney’s housing needs. An affordable housing project that drives other vulnerable people out of their existing homes is shortsighted and not an effective means of addressing our very real housing needs.

The other, of course, is the loss of what can arguably be said to be the heart and soul of Putney: the open green communal space that is the Gateway property.  In times of great uncertainty such as we are facing, food security and community building is essential.  The WWHT project on this particular piece of land, would all but destroy any chance of building a true and thriving farmers' market, or protecting let alone expanding the community garden as our town reinvigorates and grows.  To date, Windham Windsor has not provided a legal path to ownership, continuing to encroach on, and refusing to make any promise to, the community garden and farmers' market of their continued existence, health and growth.  Too often, WWHT has reversed or altered their plans after using entities like Green Commons as a tool, turning promises to lip service once they have secured their desired outcomes. 

A town without a welcoming center, without access to food security, small agricultural and arts enterprises, a park and open public gathering space is not one that lasts in meaningful ways.  Let’s grow our town in a sustainable, smart and resilient manner that creates an appealing and vibrant community.  That includes multitudes of housing options, ones that don’t destroy a town in order to grow it, and that serves all residents.  Affordable housing must be a piece of that puzzle, but that doesn’t mean we should rush into the wrong project in the wrong place.  Farmers' markets and public parks are a proven investment, and a smart step in reinvigorating an economy and community in ways that build the groundwork to absorb more affordable housing while providing residents with the resources that make a place to live a real home. 

The heart of Putney is in your hands, and we hope that you share in the vision of a strong community, resilient economic opportunities, and food secure future for Putney, and will be willing to extend your many years of generosity toward the Town to seeing this new venture come to fruition. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

With gratitude,

Residents and Neighbors of Putney

316 have signed. Let’s get to 500!