Log Cabin Chronicles

On closing Pageant Park in Barton, Vermont

CHRIS BRAITHWAITE
Publisher, The Chronicle
Barton, Vermont

POSTED: 06.04.06

Many community minded people have put a lot of time and energy into preserving some of the most historic, charming, and commercially important features of Barton Village.

The spruced-up village common, the handsome Pierce Block, and the Memorial Building are the examples that come most quickly to mind.

So it's a bit of a shock to learn that the village's finest natural asset, Pageant Park, has been shut for the summer.

closed
© 2007 Ellen Valley

There's a reason for that, of course. Nobody stepped forward to run the place on the terms the village trustees were offering. So the three seasonal campers who had already arrived were turned out, the gate was locked, and a sign posted to announce the closing and say, rather ambiguously, that those who enter do so at their own risk.

This is more than a shame. It strikes us, in its own small way, as an outrage.

If Barton is to stem its slow decline into commercial oblivion, it can hardly shrug off the loss of a park as beautiful as Pageant, on a lake as beautiful as Crystal.

The assumption that not a penny of village taxpayers' money should be spent on behalf of the outsiders who use the park is a dubious one. Plenty of communities spend taxpayers' money on things that make their community more attractive, both to their own residents and to visitors who might contribute to the local economy.

Maybe before they came to such a final conclusion, the trustees should have asked the taxpayers how they would feel about it.

We strongly agree with John Ullrich, chairman of the trustees, who wants to have sites available for the traveling public, in addition to the seasonal campers who have traditionally filled Pageant Park.

To provide a place for weary travelers to get off the road and park a RV or pitch a tent is an act of hospitality. A weary traveler who stumbled on a park as beautiful as Pageant would not soon forget Barton, or the generosity of its taxpayers.

Spots for travelers might also improve the park's income, as Mr. Ullrich suggests. And that might help cover the cost of an attendant.

Closing down Pageant Park just as the tourist season gets rolling shows a lamentable lack of leadership. We hope the trustees can rally around the situation, and get it fixed.


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Copyright © 2007 Chris Braithwaite/Barton Chronicle/06.06