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Letter to the Editor: Public Works Proposal is ‘Necessary, Practical and Achievable’

September 21, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum No Comments

To the Editor,

As a taxpayer I believe I have the responsibility to speak up, both for myself, and perhaps for others reluctant to speak in support of the Town’s public works facility rehabilitation proposal. As every resident well knows, there is a very vocal and public campaign to defeat the proposal, yet it is unclear that a majority of residents agree with that opposition. The upcoming referendum will hopefully settle the matter.

I support the proposal because I see it as necessary, practical and achievable. I also believe it to be inappropriate to use this issue as a vehicle to achieve other community ends, no matter how desirable such ends may be.

These are not ordinary times. The entire nation’s, and especially Connecticut’s, economy remains weak, and state and local governments struggle to provide for their needs, and responsibly must defray their wants, in the hope of better economic conditions in the future. 

Connecticut in particular, is at the very bottom of the economic heap, and we can see that result in the exodus of retiring residents, as well as of young people, to more promising economic locales. The economic pressures and constraints on our own community are no different and I think it unwise to conflate our needs with our wants, by linking a clear and immediate need, a functional, safe municipal public works facility, with the want of riverfront recapture. If any time is wrong for such aspirations, this is it.

We are a community of just 10,000 people, with perhaps 3000 households or families, precious little commercial development and virtually no industry. Thus the burden of municipal services falls squarely on Canton’s property owners. We need to think first about them, and how being a little too willing to spend extra at this time will be perceived, and what their response might be.

Proposals based on the purchase of privately owned land justified solely as to move the facility, with the additional objectives of expanding open space, gaining new recreational facilities or vacating the riverfront are wants, not needs, and should be delayed until such time that economic conditions become favorable. Perhaps that will be in our lifetimes, or perhaps not, but no facility is permanent and no structure is forever. Nothing is “forever lost” as some have claimed. Forever is a very long time.

Our current site is already in use for the purpose proposed, is owned by us, is well understood as a site, and is proven to be capable of rehabilitation. The current proposal is therefore the most economical and practical proposal we have seen. I believe it should be redeveloped, as is, where is, in the interest of minimizing our tax burden.

We should also be honest with ourselves in acknowledging that the sewage treatment plant adjacent to the Town garage site is not going anywhere, and if anything, is likely to be expanded and modernized, as Town needs may require. It is also logical that municipal facilities remain co-located to reduce the number of impacts on various surrounding neighborhoods.

I urge the careful separation of needs and wants and urge passage of the proposal to rehabilitate our current public works facility. Thank you.

Arnold L. Goldman

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