After many years of informing the Parks & Recreation Commission, Councilmember’s, and Mayors, that our parks infrastructure was deteriorating and broken, due to lack of budgetary funding, the City is now acting. Councilman Serra and Mayor Dan Drew are past Commissioners of the Parks & Recreation Commission. Councilman Todd Berch and Phil Pessina are current Commissioners. During that 20 years of neglect spoke about by Councilman Serra it is valid to point out that he served as Mayor. Several years ago, I was asked by the Commission to supply them and the Common Council with detailed information of which facilities and what construction/renovations were needed. The cost tallied almost $25,000,000. That’s a lot of neglect! Most towns understand the importance of both parks and recreation. They know it is more than soccer and little league fields. It’s about quality of life for all ages in a community and being able to partake in whatever activity you desire, and not just be a spectator.
Most, if not all of the Councilmember’s, including the Mayor and his cabinet, have no idea what the Parks department’s responsibilities to the community really encompass, or where some of our parks are even located. That is one of the main reasons the parks infrastructure system has been allowed to be thrown aside for so long during the budgetary process. I remember then Mayor Maria Holzberg wanting to close many parks and athletic fields down: “Parks and recreation are non-essential!” Was she right?
During a retirement interview with Shawn Beals, the subject of Middletown’s park deterioration was broached. I told him when the politicians are ready to reorganize departments and place the Parks division within another department (Public Works), that funding will begin to pour in. My opinion is that for political and personal reasons, the Parks division was set up to purposely fail. I’ve said it at prior public meetings and in Newsletters that once departments are on the verge of reorganizing, whatever money is needed to succeed will become available. This is just round one. If I sound bitter, I may be. When I read the Mayor thinks it’s a good idea to put lights on the Arrigoni Bridge at a cost of over $750,000 taxpayer dollars, and we don’t even own it, yeah, I might get bitter. I think of all the good we could do with that money in our parks. Perhaps Councilmember’s never understood that my passion for the Parks department and development came from a deep rooted commitment to the community in which I was raised. There was only one reason to be outspoken – and it was to provide the citizenry with great public spaces to enjoy the outdoors. I left City employment with the regret that the dreams, goals and visions for the department never came to fruition. Even if the reason for the funding and attention to our natural landscapes is ultimately for all the wrong reasons, I’m glad that the facilities might be getting the attention that they deserve.
Stay strong. Stay involved. Stay together. Seek the truth.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions and views expressed in this newsletter reflect the opinion and view of the author, and should not be construed as fact or advice. The author is a life long Middletown resident and taxpayer, and is sharing his opinions as such. The opinions and commentary do not reflect the views of any political party, organization, or citizen group. This newsletter reflects opinions and commentary which the author wishes to share with his friends.