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Letter to the Editor: We Still Have Time to Get This Right

November 4, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum No Comments

To the Editor:

For almost 30 years, Canton has planned for a future with a reclaimed Farmington River waterfront as catalyst for the economic, social and environmental vitality of our community. The need for a new Town Garage and a new location for it off the river first appeared in Canton’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) in 1989. This goal has figured prominently in the town’s deliberations and planning since then and was recently re-affirmed in the updated 2014-2024 POCD, adopted after two years of work by a diverse group of civic leaders and community citizens.

As a member of that POCD subcommittee, I recall many debates about many issues – but not this one. The POCD is clear about the inadequacies of the current site and is equally clear about the value of “recapturing the natural and scenic riverfront” and “valuable public access” to “enhance the river’s role in the community.”

I know everyone wants to be done with the Town Garage – probably none more so than the dedicated members of our own Permanent Municipal Building Committee (PMBC). And yet, when asked about the current proposal to re-construct the Town Garage at its present site, the PMBC concluded that, “what the community will give up by developing a much larger DPW facility on the existing site… is likely to exceed the compromises required at another site…and may result in a solution that the town will regret in the future.” (Available at: http://www.cantonnotonourriver.org/links-to-town-documents.html).

Is it painful to contemplate going another round on this issue? Yes. But plans now call for 15,000 square feet facility rather than the original 20,000, making other sites viable which the PMBC has identified. Many cost issues have been addressed.

But, you say, we’ve run out of time. No, we haven’t. Bonding won’t happen until next year and construction can’t start until 2018 in any case. There’s still time to get this right.

Your “NO” vote on the November 8 referendum will help ensure we do not double-down on mistakes of the past. Your “NO” vote will stand for the courage of the conviction – collectively expressed in one plan and survey and public meeting after another, over many years – that a reclaimed waterfront can be a driver of economic growth and community vitality for generations to come. Vote “NO” to say, let’s not miss this chance.

Susan Carr
Board Member, C.A.R.E
Member, 2014-2024 Plan of Conservation and Development Subcommittee

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