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Letter to the Editor

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I take this opportunity to offer a general comment regarding some of the undertones in several of the articles in our Newsletter. When I learned that the VCBS was starting, I immediately sent money to become a life member, believing so strongly that Vermont deserved its own preservation society and wanting to be a part of it. Many of us already belong to other state or local preservation societies and the national society.

Our Society recognizes the advantages of a preservation policy and I am pleased to be one of our members tapped to participate in its development. I welcome the challenges of such a task and intend to play an active role.

However, this letter addresses the attacks on some of the work that has occurred over the past few years on some of the covered bridges in Vermont. I specifically cite the work performed at the Paper Mill Bridge in Bennington. There continues to be regular derogatory remarks about the work performed as part of that project.

Since I served as the Project Manager and Project Engineer for that work, I take exception to such attacks. With the opportunity for voicing my responses via Joe Nelson's web site, I prepared quite voluminous responses to a number of such attacks. Joe did (and continues to do) a good job of providing coverage of conflicting opinions. Yet, many of our members and other interested "Bridgers" do not have access to the Internet, so I wanted to have a chance to have a voice in the newsletters of other preservation societies most especially the New York and National Newsletters. Unfortunately, my voice has not been heard in such outlets.

Therefore, via this Vermont Newsletter, I urge all who continue to harbor bad feelings about the work at Paper Mill to do two things. If you have not reviewed the materials contained on Joe's web site about the evolution of that project, including my response to the critics, I ask that you find it and read it. Second, I have made contact with Stuart Hurd, Town Manager of the Town of Bennington, and he shared that the Town and local community is very happy with their renewed bridge. In fact, they have prepared a letter of support for my part in it. They and I look forward to its continued service for the next century.

Similarly, while not having an active role in the design of, nor decisions about, the trusses of the Fuller Bridge (my role was limited to the floor), I hurt for the abuse heaped on that project. The decision of what to do with the trusses was made as a group and included representation by the Agency of Transportation and Division of Historic Preservation.

It sure will be nice when someone invents a means of restoring deteriorated material without replacing it, but until then, we have the challenge of deciding how best to proceed. Hence, our Society will work diligently to develop a preservation policy that we can all support. Hopefully, we will succeed. Yet, regardless of the success of such "paper" efforts, we will all also continue to work hard to help these magnificent and important structures remain serving and pleasing the generations to come - hopefully, with a sense of awe for their longevity.

Lets work together with a little more appreciation for our respective viewpoints and attempt to benefit from such diversity. Venom does not become any of us.

Phil Pierce

[This letter will also appear in the next Bridger Newsletter - Editor]

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