Monday, October 26, 2015

Letter to the Editor: Sports Teams Call for 'No' Vote on Parks Referendum Bond

Letter to the editor:

This is the position of Middletown youth soccer, and Middl7etown Youth Baseball and Softball.

Hello Citizens of Middletown;

Vote NO! to Question 2
We want to quickly share why we suggest our membership say No to question 2!
18 months ago: City of Middletown contracts Milone & Macbroom to conduct a city-wide survey of our City’s parks, fields & recreation centers.

3 months ago (approx.): Milone & Macbroom submit recommendation to the city at the Common Council Meeting on 8/24.

8/24: A small, yet very vocal segment of the community pressures town council to amend the bond, eliminating synthetic playing fields entirely and forever.  18 months of research & $80k of taxpayer money rewritten in 2 hours due to unsubstantiated fears over synthetic surfaces.

9/2: At a ‘special meeting’ of the town council.  Town council votes 7-5 to uphold the vote of 8/24 with the added ‘Compromise’ of 6 additional grass fields to be built in lieu of the synthetic surfaces.
Absent from this ‘compromised’ bond is any plan for where new fields would be placed, who would have access/control and how they would be maintained.

The amended bond was rushed through the town council - on the eve of the state deadline to be placed on the ballot for 11/3.  ‘Let’s get the money approved and we’ll figure the details out later.’ Was used several times to explain away significant unanswered questions of the altered bond.
What was lost in the chaos of the two meetings is that the original bond language has now been shredded.  The original intentions of the bond were to:
Improve existing fields and recreation facilities.

Mitigate the significant usage load on the city’s natural playing surfaces – without eliminating natural grass fields – synthetic fields would only be used in 4 locations across town.

Significantly reduce maintenance load on the city Parks & Recreation department which is already understaffed.
Extend the playable seasons for the city’s outdoor sports teams.

The new bond language provides no plan for where the additional natural grass fields will be placed, offers no plan for how they will be maintained & requires us to place faith in a city which has ignored the issue for almost a quarter of a century.
Whether we get synthetic fields in Middletown or not, this bond has become a shell of its original purpose.  With over $10 million in unaccounted funds, promises of ‘we’ll figure it out later’ and no proper explanation of how or where money will be spent, we feel it best to vote this bond down so it can be revised, reviewed and hopefully restored to its original purpose.
So, Middletown, on November 3, Vote NO to question 2!

Michael Czerwonka, on behalf of Middletown youth soccer, and Middletown Youth Baseball and Softball.

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