Friday, July 29, 2011

Planes, Trains and Turf Fields

I was not in attendance at Wednesday nights' contentious meeting whereby the turf/track project was discussed and a bid was chosen for the now combined project. I understand that Andy Falvey was not happy and I understand his frustrations. There's a lot of misinformation being generated around both projects some of it intentional in my opinion. But if we remove the misinformation and rhetoric around these two projects then perhaps we may understand why folks in town are frustrated by these projects.

A brief history about turf: If you search the Nov/Dec archive on my blog, I posted details on the turf project namely what the BOE agreed to when it sent the turf-project-only over to the TC for consideration. In addition to establishing it's own (BOE) turf-replacement funding plan, the BOE also passed the motions with two stipulations:
  • That the turf project not begin until ALL of funds have been raised with NO installation cost to Cheshire taxpayers.
  • That a town fund be setup by the TC for the sole purpose of collecting all future funds raised for future replacement of the turf field before the shovel hits the ground.
Additionally, and this is very important to me, I put forth mechanisms to the BOE that would audit/report on the financial status of the turf field. The mechanisms will track what the turf field generates in revenue, what is being spent on the turf field (if anything) and what is being raised (and where) to replace the turf field as well as periodic reports on the health of the town fund capturing replacement funds. Accountable.

The BOE planning and finance committees also decided to monitor the turf field under the planning committee. We did not create yet another sub-committee for the turf. Keeping it simple. This was very important in that up until this point, and even as of this day, nobody can say for certainty if this committee reports into the TC or the BOE. It simply exists. Transparency.

Fast-forward to Wed. As of Wednesday, the town has not established a fund to capture replacement funding for the turf and to the best of my knowledge, it was never discussed by this TC even though it was in the motion sent to them back in November. It was ignored. If there ever was an opportunity to stick it to the BOE and hold the BOE accountable for the turf project...this was the opportunity. Our attempts at being fiscally responsible and accountable for this project were simply ignored. Responsible.

The BOE has failed to establish the mechanisms needed to monitor the financial well-being of the turf field. Specifically, the BOE Policy committee has failed to act on far. Will it act soon? It better.

Regarding the track...something changed and it changed very quickly. The BOE Planning Committee met in early spring about turf/track. The consensus then was to use part of the $150K already appropriated for the track project to replace the South D zone which is in horrible condition and would pose an injury risk when the turf is installed due to grading issues in the area. This was the extent to which the track field would be touched in relation to the turf field.

Today...the complete replacement of the track field has been tacked onto the turf project. I agree that the track needs to be resurfaced. The PBC may be justified in recommending both get done at the same time. However, since the track is/will be paid for by taxpayer monies...and considering the track referendum was voted could we possibly shove this through without taxpayer consent?!?

Doing the track and turf at the same time may make financial sense. I agree. But whereas the turf is not (arguably) being paid for by property taxes and no-cost to the town...the track is being paid for by taxpayer money. In this regard, the TC has every right to question the addition of this project because the taxpayers are demanding it.

In my opinion, there are too many loose-ends with both projects that need must be tied up and tied up quickly. There seems to be a rush to get both projects done as soon as possible. The question I have is Why? What's the rush? Certainly, for one more year the football field and track is safe-enough to play on. There's no patient dying on the operating table here folks.

I think it would be prudent to take a breather and resolve all of the issues I raised above before either the track or turf projects are started. For me this is not about personal agendas or even politics...but it's accountability, transparency and responsibility. All of which are now clouded, for me, under both projects.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Candidates Announced, Let the Battle Begin!

Last night's caucuses by both the Democrats and Republican revealed our candidates for the fall election. And they are: 

Town Council R's
David Schrum -1st District
Tom Ruocco - 2nd District
Andy Falvey - 3rd District
Steve Carroll - 4th District
Sylvia Nichols - At Large
Mike O'Donnell - At Large
Jim Sima - At Large
Tim Slocum - At Large 

Gerry Brittingham
Todd Dixon
Ed Hill 

Town Council D's
None - 1st District
Matt Bowman - 2nd District
Joe Schmitt - 3rd District
Peter Talbot - At Large
Patti-Flynn Harris - At Large
Michael Ecke - At Large
Dan Nowak - At Large
Bob Behrer - At Large 

Cathy Hellreich
Marlena Soble

This looks like a rematch for the Town Council. Let the battle begin! :-)

With no democrat candidate for the 1st District, David Schrum will go uncontested in this election. While there are 4 seats up for election on the BOE, the democrats have only put up two candidates. I'm happy to see new faces running in this election, particularly on the BOE. As I've mentioned on my blog I'd like to see more new faces on the BOE. On that note, I'm very excited to have Ed Hill on the slate. Ed is a brilliant attorney, in my opinion, he's methodical, dependable and I'm looking forward to working with him on the BOE.

It was reported in the Record Journal that the Democrats had a difficult time finding additional candidates for the TC and BOE.  Even the RTC, while seeking candidates, found that many out there just cannot commit the time that's required in order to serve the town properly. In my opinion, I think the economy has taken a higher priority in people's lives these days and there's not enough time available to attend meetings or let alone campaign.

There has been no announcement from Mike Evans' political party yet.

Thoughts, comments are welcome. All candidates are more than welcome to post on my blog, introduce themselves and share their views/positions.