First, the bad news. As correspondent Emily Blake reported in last week’s edition, residents in Halifax are coming to grips with the news that the water table around the town’s former landfill is likely contaminated. It appears that two decades ago some industrial sludge was dumped into the town’s landfill. While the facility was closed shortly thereafter, the damage was done, and the ground was contaminated.
That’s news no one wants to hear. Water, after all, is the lifeblood of so many things. To find out that groundwater may be contaminated is like finding out that someone has cancer. It’s never a good thing, and very frightening to those who may be affected by it.
While the story has yet to play out, there can be no doubt that things will likely get worse before they get better. More testing will surely take place, and the scope of the contamination may be found to be greater than initially thought. That’s often how these things go.
Halifax Selectboard members are understandably concerned about the potential costs to the taxpayers. But we hope they also understand residents’ concerns about the potential health costs, to town employees who may have worked at and around the landfill, and people who live near the site. Those health concerns need to be weighted more heavily than potential financial costs.
Despite board members’ concerns, money for remediation of contaminated sites can be found. It might take some effort, and not just by Halifax officials. Legislators and state officials may need to be involved as well. In fact, the groundwater contamination might not have been found at all if it wasn’t for a state program that called for testing in closed landfills around Vermont.
There is precedent for action above and beyond town officials. Just in the past two years, North Bennington has gone through a difficult time identifying wells and water sources that were contaminated. There may even be a connection between the Halifax and the North Bennington contamination, although that link has yet to be established.
The Halifax Selectboard has done the right thing to this point, holding information meetings and talking openly about what is happening. We encourage them to continue down that path, and work for the best interests and to meet the concerns of all residents. How the contamination is dealt with will determine if officials can turn this difficult news for Halifax into something more positive.
Mount Snow gets good news
On the other hand, officials at Mount Snow received the good news they have been waiting for since May. Federal officials at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services have finally begun processing their EB-5 permit applications, which means that the funding collected for two major construction projects, a new base lodge at Carinthia and a bigger snowmaking reservoir, can be released from escrow (see page 3).
That certainly is good news, and helps take some of the sting out of what was a difficult summer for many who were depending on the EB-5 money to fuel construction at Mount Snow. When the release of the money was delayed, the projects were essentially put on hold.
While that lost time can never be recovered, the projects now have the green light, and the funding, to move forward. Of particular interest will be the completion of the West Lake snowmaking reservoir. When the final pipe is laid and the pumps are turned on, West Lake will solve a four-decade-old problem for Mount Snow, and the resort will finally have enough water storage capacity to meet all of its snowmaking needs. As an added bonus, the Hermitage Club will see an increase in its water capacity at Haystack Mountain as well. Currently the two resorts share access to Mirror Lake as part of the agreement when Haystack was sold by Mount Snow’s previous owner, American Skiing Company.
Mount Snow just celebrated its Founder’s Day on Monday. It was 62 years ago this week that the mountain opened for business. This week’s news of the EB-5 fund release is just icing on the cake, and allows the mountain to remain a competitive leader for the foreseeable future.