Letter, Opinion

If the city owned CSJ, many needs would be fulfilled

Dear editor,

During last Wednesday’s community meeting on Aug. 11 in Rutland’s gym at St. Joseph’s College, there were many stupendous ideas expressed on ways to spend the initial $4.4 million Covid funds that will be coming to Rutland City. Rutland Free Library needs money to modernize the building and its technology. Main Street Park needs a new gazebo, electricity and bathrooms. Downtown needs vital attention. Blighted buildings need to be destroyed. City parks need maintenance and repairs. Dept. of Public Works needs a new building. Some streets need extra funding to be fixed properly.

The motto of “Victory to the individual over the odds that beset him” (carved into the white stone above the old Marble Bank), acts as a guide for how to spend our own “free” Covid relief dollars. It means deciding how a city of individuals comes to make a sensible community decision on how to spend a seeming windfall.

We don’t really understand what took place between Heartland Corporation, Rutland Free Library, Rutland City and Heritage Credit Union because we are not privy to the internal discussions and exchanges that took place. We do understand that the ire of Rutland’s citizens sizzled red hot, and whatever engagement happened fizzled flat like an opened beer left overnight on a kitchen countertop.

In light of the Covid money coming in, in light of Heritage Credit Union’s success at the behest of Rutland County residents, in light of a bank not wanting to be a landlord, in light of the Heartland Corporation not having the wherewithal to buy the St. Joseph’s College property and never having started construction, it’s time to get serious about Rutland City owning its own land.

Heritage Credit Union’s presence dominates Rutland’s gym with its impressive insignia. Because the city owns the gym now, the size and placement of the bank’s symbol seems to indicate a profoundly deep connection between the bank and the city. Does that reflect reality?

The community of Rutland deserves to own this last large piece of land that was well-cared for by the nuns and priests, and still retains aspects of its unspoiled sanctity. Money is certainly needed for all the projects mentioned at last Wednesday’s meeting, especially for the old library building, which serves so many of us. Some part of the Covid money needs to be used to cut a deal between the owner of the property (Heritage) and Rutland City.

Now is the time for the hometown bank to provide a providential way for its hometown to own its own land after the 25-plus years of loyalty and support from individuals in this community who created the bank’s very existence and success. The land will provide a platform for education, arts, crafts, lectures, healing, childcare, eating, athletics, music, performances, walking, meditating, dreaming, communication, etc. The land’s use will reveal itself over time. This land is more than just property for profit. It is part of the fabric of this community. Rutland City owning this land is a big deal.

Rutland does not need an outside commercial concern purchasing its last sizable piece of precious, and, in this case, holy land. This is at moment for the bank and the city’s leadership to midwife this natural event. In simple terms, it’s a carpe diem moment. It’s time to “seize the day” and make it happen for this community and the individuals who comprise it.

Nick Santoro,
Marilyn Griffith,
Alicia Ayles,
Rutland

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