'Yes In My Backyard' - A Letter of Support From One Of Our Immediate Neighbors

Duff Cummings and his wife Sandy have been attending River Park planning meetings from the beginning, and I have been greatly appreciative of their input on the project and their support for a development in their neighborhood. In fact, the Cummings' house abuts the River Park site.

In an era of N.I.M.B.Y. (Not In My Back Yard) politics surrounding development, enthusiastic support from your neighbors is not something to be taken for granted! This has been my goal for River Park since Lyme first purchased the site in 2007: a smart-growth development that would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Last week Duff copied me on an email he sent out to some of his friends and fellow West Lebanon citizens encouraging them to vote in support of River Park on March 9th, and I think he hits the nail on the head here. I'm very grateful for the support of neighbors like Duff, and hope you'll take a minute to read his email, which he gave me permission to reprint here.

Vote YES on Amendment #1 on March, 9th.

If you have any questions about the project, post them as a “Comment” on this blog, or email me at info@riverparkwestlebanon.com.

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Good afternoon,

As your friend, fellow resident and Lebanon taxpayer I am writing to you today seeking your support for a proposed development in my neighborhood that is of great importance to all of us who live in Lebanon. If I haven't already been in touch with you,  I will try very hard to contact you personally as well about this important request. As you read what follows, please keep the date March 9 in your thoughts!

As has been well documented in the Valley News,  for two years Lyme Properties has sought to do something positive with the property formerly occupied by Bailey Brothers on North Main Street in West Lebanon. Unlike most developers, Lyme has from the outset gone the extra mile to reach out to the neighborhood and business community for our ideas and input on what would best serve our needs and interests and those of the larger Upper Valley, and to hear our concerns. This was not some superficial attempt at public relations - rather, they have actually met with us repeatedly and incorporated our collective thoughts, advice and counsel into their planning. The resulting proposed development has the potential to be a visually attractive, eco-sensible source of pride, tax revenue and employment opportunity which will benefit us all. As if these weren't reasons enough to support the project, it will also for the first time in recent memory provide decent public recreational access to the Connecticut River south of Wilder Dam.

As one who has attended the neighborhood meetings, site walk-throughs, and various hearings before city boards and councils, I can tell you that not a single resident has voiced any objection to the River Park master plan. In fact, community support has been unanimous and strong. As a direct abutter who was initially highly skeptical of any proposed development of the property (I was of the "not in my back yard!" mindset), I can tell you with absolute confidence that I will be truly happy to see River Park come into being. And yes, it *is* in my back yard!

The structure and state of Lebanon's current zoning is such that the only way the River Park proposal can be brought to reality is by rezoning two parcels within the River Park footprint. Further, to accomplish this, Sandy and I and 136 of our neighbors and fellow abutters signed a petition to put the rezoning of these specific parcels on the ballot on March 9. It will appear as "Amendment #1." I urge your support of this amendment. This is NOT a city wide rezoning proposal, only a specific area within the River Park which is key to the viability of the overall project.

What has gone into the making of River Park, what is planned for it, and a more detailed discussion of the zoning considerations are available at the website below. If you are not already familiar with the project, I am confident you will be most favorably impressed!

I ask you to please check out the web site and on March 9 ***please go to the polls and vote "Yes" on Amendment #1.***  Each and every vote is critical. Please encourage your friends and neighbors who are Lebanon residents to do likewise. We and those who come after us all stand to benefit greatly from what this proposed development can bring to our city, and this is our opportunity to leave our mark on our city's future.

In closing, if you happen to be driving by the River Park on a Saturday afternoon between noon and 4PM between now and March 9, I encourage you to stop and have a look at the scale model of the proposed development available for viewing in the white "River Park" trailer where Bailey Brothers used to be.

Thanks and best wishes always,
Duff