We Must Keep The Town Affordable!
In 2 years our opponents have increased spending by $1,400,000! For the 4 years prior total increases came to $650,000. This is driving seniors out of town and keeping young families from locating here.
As my running mate Kim Hanson and I are going from neighborhood to neighborhood knocking on doors it seems as if the tremendous spending increase is on your minds also. Don’t be fooled, your tax increases have been kept artificially low because there has been an unprecedented use of special or reserve funds to pay for the increases but eventually the reserve funds will dry up and then the new spending increases will have to be funded
through your tax dollars. I can honestly say that during my time in office we did not use reserve or special revenue funds to pay for the day to day operations of the town.
Too Many Storefronts Remain Empty
During the last election cycle our opponents ran on a promise to get the storefronts occupied once
again. They have failed in that promise. One of the reasons they have not succeeded is
because the center of town just does not look loved any longer. Banners, hanging from light poles
promoting the town have been missing for two years. There are no hanging baskets throughout the
town center any longer and flower beds have either been removed or sit empty with no flowers in them.
In the 1990's through the Candlewood Lions Club, we planted virtually all the trees that are in the town center except for Veteran’s Green, started the annual town center tree lighting ceremony and led by Claire Luks, planted the perennial gardens at the four corners. During my time in office we expanded Streetscape by putting in sidewalks and two bridges so that pedestrians could walk around town. Susan Chapman expanded the sidewalks even further during her administration.
Worst of all, the welcome to New Fairfield sign on Route 37 greets visitors to our town with peeling paint and an overgrown flower bed.
I mention these matters because I don’t believe any business person looking to open a retail location would select New Fairfield because, quite frankly, it just does not look loved any longer. While they have formed a committee to find ways to revive the center of town it took them 18 months or longer and, almost two years after they promised the revival of the town center, they are still in a fact-finding mode. In the meantime, visitors are greeted by numerous “For Rent” signs and many empty storefronts.
When elected, here is what Kim and I pledge to do:
- We will immediately take charge and not push the task of reviving the town center onto others.
- Continue to meet with landlords so that we can have an ongoing dialogue about prospective
tenants and what their needs are. Also, we will work with them to make or keep rents
affordable. This can be done in a variety of ways.
- Use the First Selectman’s office and become an ombudsman for prospective tenants so that we
can streamline the process and make sure that they know that we really want them to open
shop in our town. In other words, we will, in addition to the new committee that has just been
formed, act as our own economic development department.
- Consider waiving land use and construction permitting fees for new tenants in order to make
moving to New Fairfield more attractive financially for a fledging business.
- Expedite all applications that come in until the storefronts are full again
- Develop and promote a “Buy New Fairfield” campaign. Once we get them to open shop, we
need to keep them here!
We all love this town and it is time to show off our hometown pride to the rest of the region. It is time to fix up and clean up the town center once more.
We Need Affordable Senior Housing
We will work with all interested parties to encourage, rather than restrain, affordable senior housing development.
We remain committed to resolving Candlewood Lake issues by continuing on the path already put in place by the CLA and assisting further by using previously allocated funds to make sure that finally there is a lake management plan drawn up that provides guidance for how to manage the lake into the future.
We have always been a supporters of our schools. When Kim was Chair of the BOE and John was First Selectman we built new turf fields, renovated MHHS for $28 million, renovated the HS science wing for $5 million and much more. But the current proposed projects appear rushed.
There is no doubt that the HS needs serious infrastructure improvements as does Consolidated. Sadly there is almost no detail in the current proposal. It is like giving a contractor $500,000 for a house, and only knowing the number of rooms, but not their size or materials to be used. Is the Gym big enough to have public games? What happens with the athletic fields eliminated? Nobody seems to know.
When we renovated MHHS we took almost 2 years getting that project project ready for referendum. We hired a firm that did major pre-referendum drawings on spec. They were paid well for that work IF the referendum passed and were paid a very minimal payment if it did not. Consequently people knew exactly what they were buying and equally as important the project came in on time and at budget because it was well thought out BEFORE referendum so there were minimal adds/changes.
The State has not been seriously pushed on the ability to renovate the HS as new which carries a higher reimbursement rate than building new. The current architect, Rusty Malik, was the lead educational architect for Kastle Boos in 2005 when they issued a report (which is not posted on the school website) that found the HS to be structurally sound. Instead of providing that report to the State it appears a more negative report from 1976 was chosen. That report was commissioned by the Town in a successful attempt to sue the bonding company on the original project. Needless to say it was not a glowing report. Even that report states that, “we have not observed any signs of severe structural distress.”
This plan would devastate our schools’ capacity by bulldozing Consolidated, parts of which are only 20 years old, bulldozing the HS, and replacing them with far smaller structures. What happens when another "bubble" class or two appears? We don’t find the answer that the HS is being designed so that another wing can be added to be financially comforting one.
The highest year’s tax increase for a home valued at $300,000 is shown to be $590.40. based on some 25 year bonding. How much higher will that be if we bond for our normal 20 year period? How much more in total will the Town pay if we bond for 25 years instead of 20?
Stop the scare tactics of “now or never”. The state bonding commission meets every year. Stop the scare tactics of “what will happen to the schools after the next election.” For the answer to that just look at MHHS.
Let’s really do our homework before adding $80+ million to our taxes and radically reducing our schools’ capacity.