RACDC Has Been A Great Value

Letters / Aug. 26, 2010 2:16pm EDT

Two letters to the editor in last week’s paper were quite disturbing to me. Both referred to the Randolph Selectboard meeting of the previous week, one insinuating that the chair is an advocate for RACDC, and the other suggesting that “The town ought to sever official relations with the RACDC.”

For the benefit of those who have moved to Randolph during the past 15 years or so and may not know the history of that organization, and for those who may not have had the time to think about and add up the accomplishments, here is an attempt to point out some of the positive improvements that RACDC has brought to our community.

After the devastating downtown fires of the early 1990s, local community and business leaders formed a coalition to rise like the legendary phoenix and save our town from further disintegration. Out of this group’s foresight and Herculean efforts in forming the early Randolph Community Development Corporation came the founding, in 1993, of RACDC (adding the second word, Area.) A not-for-profit community organization, its mission is to “preserve and develop affordable and elderly housing for low and middle income residents, attract, retain and support business and employment opportunities, and support downtown and village center revitalization.”

RACDC does not employ lobbyists. It writes and secures competitive government and foundation grants and works with private investment partners to raise funds to invest in our community.

Without the formation and work of RACDC since 1993, Randolph would be a very, very different community from the one in which we live today.

There would be a hole in the Main Street block where Belmain’s and the Clara Martin Center are. There would be an abandoned, condemned school or an empty lot at the corner of Main and School Streets instead of a professional office building, The Red Lion Inn at the northeast corner of Main Street and Merchants’ Row would still be a vacant, deteriorating building, and the Randolph Elementary School might not be located on its present site had it not been able to purchase the buildable portion of that property at a bargain basement sale price from RACDC.

In addition to these early capital improvements, RACDC worked with the town and other organizations to secure one of the earliest Downtown Designations from the state. This designation has recently enabled RACDC to obtain a $45,000 grant for sidewalk improvements on Merchants’ Row, over $127,000 in tax credits for Chandler’s renovation, and, just announced in last week’s Herald, $100,000 in tax credits to help George Rich rebuild 29 Main Street and $62,000 in tax credits to install sprinklers and safety improvements to Steve Quenneville’s Laundromat on Pleasant Street.

RACDC has helped many small business owners in town with loans, technical assistance and referrals, most recently including Vermont Computing, LEDdynamics, Valley Bowl, Chef’s Market and Bud and Bella’s Bookstore.

The dilapidated buildings comprising the former Ethan Allen factory have been derelict for over 20 years. Thanks to the work and planning of RACDC, they are now on their way to becoming a new downtown neighborhood of energy efficient homes and apartments. RACDC has added approximately $11 million to the town’s tax base, bringing in $170,000 annually in property taxes. This helps to keep taxes lower for all residents.

RACDC has worked, and will continue in the future, to bring creative and innovative ideas to improve the local economy and the quality of life for many of our seniors who will be able to find affordable housing near family and friends and for people in lower-paying jobs who will be able to transition from renting to owning their own homes.

There is an old adage that some people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. How could anyone question the value of these many advantages and accomplishments for Randolph? Who in our town government has the expertise or the time to bring the money and aid RACDC has provided the community over the years?

I strongly urge all Randolph residents to attend the selectboard meetings and support our elected officials and RACDC. And I urge all who attend to treat others courteously and respectfully to ensure a positive future for Randolph.

Gay D. Gaston


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