On Town Meeting Day the voters of Northfield will consider unification of our municipal governments. More than 200 voters petitioned the Selectboard and Trustees to bring forth a plan of merger. Public votes of the Town and the Village also supported creation of a merger plan. Our elected officials responded, appointing a merger committee to study the issue and craft a simple document to accomplish that task.
After hundreds of hours of study, months of meetings, review and approval by the Selectboard, Trustees, and legal counsel, and after two warned public meetings, a plan of merger has been brought to our community for a vote of the people. This has been an exercise in democracy at its finest.
The question of merger brings to mind our state motto: “Freedom and Unity.” There is no contradiction in the expression. In fact, by creating a unified governing structure we may enhance our freedoms through accessible, accountable, and efficient government. Unified planning may help to create more economic opportunities paving the way for growth and prosperity. Old stumbling blocks like questions about Village utilities have been addressed and resolved. Many functions, like the highway budget, have been merged already. In short, the case for merger is strong.
This Town Meeting Day I hope my friends and neighbors in Northfield will join me in voting “yes” on merger for a stronger, more vital Northfield.
Christopher J. Curtis