Richard Foster- a former Select Board member and currently a candidate for Select Board at the upcoming Longmeadow Annual Town Elections weighs in on Article 36 that funds the construction of a Skateboard Park at Bliss Park.
From the May 10 Annual Town Meeting warrant
To see if the Town will vote to fund the Community Preservation Project to provide funding for the construction of a skateboard park at Bliss Park in the amount of $350,000, or a greater or lesser sum, to be funded from the Community Preservation Undesignated Fund Balance, or take any other action relative thereto.
Many on Facebook are supporting this project for a variety of reasons including telling us how cute the boys were who originally presented this Citizens’ petition at a Town Meeting a couple of years ago and how that should be the basis for approving this project etc.
One of the posters rightfully pointed out that it starts with this and then they keep coming back for more money because of a lack of planning. "We’ve seen this play before. As delineated by the Select Board and Finance Committee, this project is not ready for funding yet. That is not to say No; it is simply saying you need to do additional work to fully expand the overall needs of this project before asking for funding.
This group has already spent $15,000, where are the deliverables? Without detailed plans and specifications, these requested sums of money are merely guesses. So, we spend an additional $350,000 to find out we need an additional $350,000 and then the question is raised, did we really need this $700,000 project? Projects like this need to have a Class A estimate before construction funding is even considered.
For a Town that is rapidly approaching the tax cap spending limits, do we need additional liability and long-term maintenance cost? What about the potholes that we don’t have enough staff to provide timely maintenance on our roads? Do we just let them get bigger as we try to maintain yet more infrastructure? This project was started as citizens’ petition that was defeated at Town Meeting and then brought back as a Community Preservation project.
As I read the comments being posted on this project, it only reinforces my belief that we need a new form of local government with a council that would mandate full and complete vetting of major improvements and expenditures before being authorized for funding. Where is this on the master plan? I would like the average of 97% of our registered voters who don’t attend our Town meeting to become energized and take back control of our town from self-serving special interest groups with the formation of a more professional local government.
We now have a keenly articulate professional town manager that needs our support in protecting the development and execution of long-term needs-based programs. This will never happen as long as we allow special interest groups to set the agenda for our Town.
Richard Foster/ Longmeadow Town Resident