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BLOG: 'Turf's Up' and Surprise ... So Are Our Taxes!

Evaluation of the most recent Selectmen's meeting on the "Turf's Up" issue and its consequences and lack of information.

We heard on Nov. 20th the question on whether the proposed turf field project is appropriate at this time with everything else we have facing us, as well as the "wouldn’t it be nice to have this field at the high school."

This last comment was coupled with the comment that it costs us a lot of money to bus these students from the Igo to the Ahern. Question, with the noted eventual cost noted as $3.5 million, how long can we go into the future busing to the Ahern? 20, 40, 60 years? And in this time how many replacement fields will be installed?

There has not been any operating and maintenance budgets noted either. Let's be clear, the use at Gillette is not every day for several different programs year round ... of course it will last. Are we also going to limit use, i.e., wear and tear, from August through January as the NFL does? And a "do not use" spring and the summer?

This proposal is to replace two baseball fields. It is in an area which is already cleared; then why does the Reporter note the "added $160,000 in donated services, primarily engineering and tree removal?" What trees are removed? The only removal is the two ball fields.

No one seems to remember the conscious action and recommendation that Town Meeting accepted in 1969 to leave the existing field track and bleachers at the Ahern to lessen the tax impact of the new school. That Town Meeting also said NO to the alternate swimming pool. We have seen no full estimate of what this $3.5 million will include. There are no football locker facilities at the high school. Another un-authorized construction activity? (Don’t forget the commuter parking lot and the DPW $500,000 at the Highway garage?)

We are told we would use "available" funds, the old, "will not increase taxes routine"; didn’t we hear this on the Town Hall. And even now that that project is on hold, we hear it again. How many times can we use this line, this money, without raising taxes, yet, HOLY COW the TAXES went up again! HOW! Simple, ... we are reserving this money for pet projects, to avoid Town Meeting action with a BALLOT and a 2/3rd VOTE!

It should be obvious, this million, and those millions reserved for the Town Hall COULD REDUCE THE TAX RATE! The bond money, the $6 million from the high school could offset nearly all of the Library or the water department work, saving us some $6 million plus the interest we are still committed to pay on this million! I keep having to remind everyone, we have a Town Meeting form of government.

Appropriations and spending are authorized only by IT! The high school "SURPLUS" of some $4 million has been spent without this authorization in spite of the two brochures issued of 16 pages detailing what the money was for! We are told the parking of some $800,000-plus was authorized by CIP! But the CIP by-law says a Town Meeting vote shall follow.

It never happened!

We still need the priority study of cost, scheduling and operation and maintenance costs for the Burrell, Taylor, the Sewer, the senior center, the new elementary school required with the 300 units of apartments at Patriot Place and the $60 million OPEB (retirees medical liability), and so on.

And where this Turf's Up fits!!!

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Teri November 25, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Well stated! We also need town sewer (I know not everyone is for it) and a re-design of the union loop (I doubt National Grid will pay for that ever). This is NOT the time for unecessary expenses and even more surprise tax hikes.
Lexie November 25, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Thanks for the article, it is very informative. As a new resident I appreciate a little insight into the topic.
Chris A November 25, 2012 at 05:59 PM
On Thanksgiving Day I had the pleasure of speaking with my old high school football coach who's been coaching for 30+ years. My coach noted problems with their current grass field and patchy ripped up areas (like Gillette use to have). I mentioned how Mansfield and now Foxboro are going the Field Turf route. He mentioned that he doesn't want to do Field Turf because he's seen the most gruesome and worst kind of injuries in his career to players legs while playing at away games. By coincidence, I had a family member recently have a similar type of gruesome injury on this surface where his foot/ankle turned completely around. Costs aside, I was all for the Field Turf. However, I trust my coach's judgement and now wonder if any safety research was done by the town about this type of surface at the youth level.
George November 25, 2012 at 07:12 PM
The taxpayers are proud that their school personnel have done such a great job on the High School updating and save the taxpayers a sum of 1 million plus. To put this cost savings in the ground is beyond my thinking. From what I know the high school project never should have continued to spend the excess funds without a Town Meeting Vote. Where the money was used, I do not have any problem with that. It is the principle of Town Government that was abused or ignored. This is wrong. SAVE THE EXCESS MONEY FOR THE TOWN HALL, BURRELL OR TAYLOR SCHOOL. A BUILDING PROJECT WOULD BE MUCH WISER USE. TOWN MEETING - We will be asked for $125,000 for the Turfs Up Project. If passed, the high school states they will donate $75,000 from a building reserve fund. HOWEVER, WHAT THEY DO NOT DIRECTLY TELL YOU IS - IF THE TURF UP PROJECT PASSES, WE ARE ALSO ALLOWING THE HIGH SCHOOL TO RELEASE AND USE THE 1 MILLION PLUS MONEY FOR THE TURF'S UP. REPAIRS OR REPLACEMENT WORK FOR OUR TOWN BUILDINGS NEEDS DOING IN THE NEAR FUTURE. DO ARE TAXES PAY LATER? THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME TWISTS AND TURNS HERE THAT I FEEL IS NOT WHOLLY UNDERSTOOD OR EXPLAINED. ONE POINT, BY STATE LAW THE EXCESS MONEY COULD NOT BE USED RENOVATE THE FORMER HIGH SCHOOL FIELD AT THE AHERN SCHOOL. THERE IS A CLAIM THAT THIS IDEA WAS NOT IN THE ORIGINAL WORKUP. WELL, WHAT WAS OUR ORIGINAL VOTE FOR THE HIGH SCHOOL RENOVATION ? VOTE NO !

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