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To the Editor: Listen to the Experts – Vote No on the Garage Referendum

November 4, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum No Comments

To the Editor:

We urge Canton voters to vote NO on the town garage referendum next Tuesday.  Many opinions have been posted on this valuable forum.  Those best supported by expertise are those voiced by the members of the Permanent Municipal Building Committee (“PMBC”).  

The PMBC’s May 6, 2016, letter to the Board of Selectmen (“BOS”) regarding the siting and construction of a new Town garage at the proposed location can be accessed at:  http://www.townofcantonct.org/filestorage/19188/21685/29311/PMBC_Final_Report.pdf.  It presents 17 points weighing against re-building the town garage at its current site, for reasons spanning cost, environmental impact and conflicts with previously-established Town objectives that were adopted in the recent Plan of Conservation and Development (“POCD”) and its predecessors, and in the Upper Mill Pond Recreation Plan.  It’s plainly insulting that the four newest members of the BOS have rejected both the advice of these professionals and the will of town residents for nearly 30 years.  It’s also telling that they haven’t articulated any thoughts about where the next town garage should be built — the one we will need within a generation if the current proposal is approved, because there is no room to expand on the riverfront.

Rather than tackle the hard work they were elected to do, they have proposed a quick (but inadequate) fix, leaving it to future leadership to figure out a long-term solution – at ever-increasing costs and after potentially suitable sites have been developed for other purposes.  As the PMBC and many others, including members of Not On Our River (“NOOR”) have commented, there are several other sites that demand consideration now that the BOS has reduced the footprint and cost of a new facility.  Those who cite the results of prior referenda as support for the current proposal are wrong; the current proposal, with its smaller size and lower cost, has never been put to a vote.  As a hasty and ill-conceived plan that compromises many long-established Town objectives for the riverfront, the current proposal should be rejected.

In addition to siting and construction issues, there is the matter of river access.  On this year’s hot summer weekends, we have counted as many as 26 vehicles parked along the approach to the Town Bridge from River Road (Route 179).  This approach demands maximum driver attention due to the rise in the road and the narrowing of the roadway to the single-lane bridge.  Yet, on many weekends, Town Bridge Road becomes a parking lot, with families unloading gear (kayaks, tubes, fishing poles, etc.) as children and dogs mill around.  This situation is a serious accident waiting to happen.  Canton residents deserve safe and convenient access to the river, as is advocated in the POCD.  The current proposal not only cannot achieve this, but it forecloses that objective for the future.

The second half of the 20th century brought an enlightened appreciation of our rivers as sources of natural beauty, recreation, tourism and economic development, thus rejecting the use of riverfronts for municipal and industrial purposes.  Let’s not revisit the 19th century.  Follow the advice of the experts and vote NO on the Town Garage referendum.

Dale and Kathy Munroe


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