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Letter to the Editor: Despite ‘Canton GOES’ Assertions, Town is to Blame for 11th Hour Comments

October 31, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum No Comments

To the Editor:

The Town has finally replied via the Canton Compass to one of the “11th hour” comments made by concerned citizens at the Town meeting held last Wednesday to discuss the garage referendum scheduled for the Nov. 8th ballot.

Oh, you didn’t see it?

That’s because under the State Election Regulatory Commission (SERC) rules, the Town is prohibited from advocating for any question scheduled to be voted on at a town referendum once the ballot has been set.

Their mouthpiece is the PAC “Canton GOES.”

It is legal.  You just need to know who they really are.

It is sad that the Town, which had the opportunity to schedule the Town Meeting on the garage question since September, waited until October 26th to allow the voters to officially comment. Now their mouthpiece blames me for waiting until the 11th hour to provide input.

The major concern of residents has been the fact that the Town is proposing the garage be constructed in the floodplain. Canton resident and nationally recognized emergency response expert Bruce Lockwood recently in the Canton Compass has most eloquently outline the problem with that plan.

At the Town meeting I pointed out that the fact that the State DEEP would require that any major expansion or upgrade of the sewage treatment plant located only several hundred feet from the proposed new garage be constucted three feet above the 100-year flood level.

I got that information from Town staff and confirmed it with the State DEEP. Yet the Town is proposing to construct the new garage only one foot above the 100-year flood level.

That is an ill-advised attempt to save money on the cost of their proposal. Why didn’t the Town’s mouthpiece respond to that issue?

Instead they choose to comment on MY SUGGESTION that if the Board of Selectmen (BOS) thought the Barkhamsted garage was the perfect model because of its size and cost, then they could also build our new garage on Route 44 like Barkhamsted did.

While a Not On Our River (NOOR) member, I did not identify my comments regarding the Cadle site as those of NOOR. I suggested the Cadle property occupied by Mitchell VW because its location is similar to Barkhamsted. It is listed by the state as a contaminated site and would be eligible for cleanup funding under the newly revised State Brownfields program. It is interesting to note that the Barkhamsted garage was built on a site impacted by an adjacent Federal Superfund site.

Maybe “Canton GOES” – I mean the Town – should do their homework. But I guess if they didn’t like the Barkhamsted drive thru design, which optimizes the facility and provides worker safety by minimizing the need to back up vehicles, it’s no surprise they would not choose, like Barkhamsted, to keep the garage out of the flood plain.

The “Canton GOES” letter, authored by Brian First, Chairman of the Canton Board of Finance and Chair of Canton GOES, says that the Cadle site had been previously been rejected by the Permanent Municipal Building Committee (PMBC), which is correct. It was rejected when the proposed garage was larger. That is precisely why many residents and NOOR have been recommending since the garage was downsized that the BOS should refer the selection of the best alternative site back to the PMBC now that the garage has been downsized. They are the experts. They have spent more than ten years studying the garage project. They have asked the BOS to allow them to reevaluate potential sites now that the garage has been made smaller.

Why doesn’t the Town honor their request?

Even though it is now 11th hour the Town – I mean “Canton GOES” – should answer:

1) Why do they want to build in a floodplain with less protection than the State would require for our sewage treatment plant?

2) Why they won’t allow the PMBC to evaluate alternative sites for the smaller garage they are now proposing?

Dick Barlow


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