How’s Hubness Hurting Brattleboro?

Vermont Wheel Club

Having lived in Brattleboro a long time and outside of Brattleboro a short time, I continue to wonder about Brattleboro’s concern about being a “hub town” to surrounding communities.

It comes up in discussion, and the argument is generally that Brattleboro is providing free services to freeloading neighboring towns – they use our services and we aren’t compensated.

It sounds reasonable, but how exactly is Brattleboro going uncompensated? For what?

“Outsiders” pay for parking.  They pay extra local option taxes that they don’t pay visiting elsewhere.

“Outsiders” pay extra to join recreational programs and activities. Those wishing to use the library must pay a regular fee for library cards.

“Outsiders” pay to use the dump.

Brattleboro residents have many benefits those in surrounding towns do not have. An easy walk to downtown stores. Quick routes around town. Neighborhood parks and trails.  Brattleboro has a train station. Three easy exits to and from I-91. A passage to Hinsdale!

Brattleboro benefits by attracting larger numbers of people than surrounding towns – to feed meters, support businesses, pay local option taxes, and so on. Brattleboro gets more visitor income.

Brattleboro residents are closer to police, fire, and ambulances than most in surrounding towns. There are more events and entertainments in Brattleboro on any given day than in surrounding communities.

Those in surrounding communities don’t have their sidewalks plowed – many don’t even have sidewalks to plow.

I know the Brattleboro-centric inclination, and know the Town is always looking for extra money wherever it can find it. I know that there is temptation to blame the guests, and find ways to charge them even more somehow. (I still think admission gates and tolls are the obvious solution, but that would seem rude. Better to hide the fees if possible.)

I’ve always doubted the hub town worry obsession. Brattleboro benefits from being the hub. (It currently wants to pay money to promote itself further in this regard.)

Since moving, most of my Brattleboro “freeloading” has consisted of using the roads for free to drive to free or paid parking. I’ve walked on (federal?) sidewalks to get to the post office, and downtown sidewalks to get to stores.  I use private parking lots for grocery and hardware shopping.

That’s about it. Small stretches of roadway and a bit of sidewalk.

If you come to my surrounding town, you will use some road and if we can find any, some sidewalk, too.

Why not call it even?

Comments | 2

  • Poke, poke

    Every town is a spoke or a hub to somewhere else.

    To ponder: what hub is Brattleboro a spoke to? Boston? Burlington? NYC?

    Debate: Should people from Brattleboro pay extra to compensate that hub city for their services (that Brattleboro is, of course, taking advantage of for free!)?

  • Newfane Town Report

    I just got a copy of the Newfane Annual Report, and there is a list of all the Brattleboro-area organizations that residents here contribute to through taxes. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

    American Red Cross
    Senior Solutions
    The Current
    Early Education Services
    Gathering Place
    Brattleboro Area Hospice
    Rescue, Inc.
    Vermont Adult Learning
    Windham County Human Society
    Windham Child Care
    Youth Services
    Women’s Freedom Center

    This comes to just under $100,000.

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