Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Turmelle on last night's turf vote

The NHRs Luther Turmelle offered this piece on last night's turf vote. And despite the comments made by the Council majority, such as the suggestion that the GOP was calling the BOE a bunch of liars, I think Luther's piece captured my sentiments on Tim Slocum's motion:

Republican Tim White called the effort to see if the money could be redirected “a question of priorities.”

“There are a lot of improvements that need to be made at the high school,” White said. “To me, the health concerns associated with the locker rooms make it more of a priority.”

Tim White


Contoured Views said...

What happens if the referendum question is voted down by the town next month?
Does this mean the locker rooms will remain health risks?
Just curious what the back up plan is.
These people are so focused on putting turf down, that has some health concerns, yet they turn their heads away from a major problem in the locker rooms that will only get worse if it isn't fixed.

Anonymous said...

How about seeking out some Federal ADA compliance money for the locker rooms. How about some of our own tow's "rainy day fund" money or some of the money coming back from the CRRA deal, or would that be considered "slush" money?

Instead of figuring out why we can't do this without trying to redirect truf money, why are we not figuring out how we CAN do it.

Lastly, why is it slush fund money when its purpose is the turf, but not slush fund money when its for the pool or locker room facility?

Contoured Views said...

Perhaps you should do a little research before you make statements.
This is a "slush fund" because it was part of a $12 million discrecionary fund that Amman was able to give away, even though the state is in a horrific financial mess. Amann, Williams and Rell each got $2 million cash to do with what they wanted, then they each got an additional $10 million credit line.
That $525K "gift", which is part of the $10 million credit line, is being borrowed by our state. Amann says he prioritzes who gets what, so he must have thought Cheshire was in dire need of artificial turf.
So, those of us who are state tax payers as well as Cheshire tax payers are getting hit twice on this "gift".
Now you ask to get Federal aid?
In one of the worst recessions in 80 years do you feel this is something that we should go into debt for?

Were the locker rooms in bad shape when Ecke and Altieri asked Fritz for this 'gift'? Why didn't they ask for money for the locker rooms?

Why hasn't the Turf committee come up with an exact cost to install and maintain? Don't tell me it costs less to maintain then natural grass because you don't have to pay $600K to replace natural grass after 8 years, so that should be split up and added into the yearly maintenance costs.
Why hasn't the turf committee told us where the additional costs for the purchase and installation are coming from?
How can you take money without knowing how you will finance the remainder of the project?

We are all trying to figure out how to take care of a pool that we already own and is in bad shape, we are also trying to figure out how to repair locker rooms that are a health hazard.
That is the reason why we are trying to figure out a way to redirect that fund and put it towards something that we need more than we want.
Yes, it is still money from a slush fund, but if the majority doesn't want to give it back, then they should use their heads and begin to think logically. Fix what we have first!

Formerly anonymous-RD said...

No one wants to turn or is turning their heads on the locker room, but the risk of losing the grant money, and the likelihood of losing that money, does not make sense at this point. The Turf Committee should have the opportunity to complete its work before even attempting to discuss the reallocation of this grant money. If the TC or BOE is unhappy with the length of time that it is taking, then set a deadline for their report to be due.

As far as asking for Federal Aid, I was mearly making a suggestion. IF, and I mean if, there are funds available to comply with Federal Guidelines for the new locker room facility, then why would you not ask for them?

What about the "rainy day" reserves and/or the CRRA monies? If the locker room facility is the priority that it is said to be by the council, then why would we not look to utilize those funds?

Amazingly enough, we, as a town, are able to help complete the playground at Bartlem with a monetary contribution of, at least from what I have been told, 100G.

I don't need to do the research,m as I have listened for hours on how that money came available. Again, it was only referred to as "slush" funds 18 months ago when it was being proposed to be accepted. But when someone had the idea to reallocate it towards the pool, then it was okay.

We are all not going to agree on everything and some of us on little. There are problems that need solving, which is something that I think we can all agree on.

How we solve them will not necessarily be easy. But the very timing of this latest proposal, as this could have been discussed back in April or May, is questionable at best (3 weeks before election).

I don't have all the answers or solutions, nor do I claim to. What I do know is that we, as a town, both republicans, democrats, and independants alike, have turned a blind eye over the years to the very real physical problems within our school system buildings and grounds.

Lastly, I did not attack your questions from your first post, nor did I refer to anyone as "these people" in what comes across as a demeaning reference. "these people" are, if you are a Cheshirite, your neighbors, your fellow townspeople, fellow taxpayers, parents of students, and from the tone that you have set with your response, part of your district that you may be running for office in.

Again, we all have opinions. Maybe those opinions, as differing as they may be, can be turned into the solutions for all of our problems.

Contoured Views said...

18 months should be more than enough time for the turf committee to come up with costs and how they will finance the difference. How much longer do they need?

As for the playground, that too was part of that discresionary money that the current majority voted on accepting.

Money does not grow on trees, unless you're state legislator with all this money available.

You may not appreciate me referring to the turf committee as "these people", but it wasn't meant in a derogatory manner, it was meant to identify who wants the turf. "These people" don't represent the majority of the town, they represent the athletes and their families.

Has the majority gone out and polled the residents to see who is in favor of this turf? Talk to every Republican canidate who has hit the pavement and they will tell you that the majority of the people they spoke with are against it.

I agree that we all have different opinions, that is what makes America what it is. I also believe that too many times, the TC has their own agenda. When you look at the make up of the majjority, you will see very close ties to the football program as well as 1 who is a baseball coach and has a relative in the artificail turf business. Are they representing the town or their own personal needs?

I do agree that we have turned a blind eye to the physical problems of our schools, but we need to priortize what is needed first.
If we continue along and get the turf, how can we be assured that the town will take care of it properly to get the maximum time out of it? Isn't one of the reasons to replace the current field because it is in such bad shape and the town doesn't take care of it?

You do have some valid points, but I ask again, is it a want or a need? Shouldn't we take care of the needs first?

Anonymous said...

What is your beef with the Football program anyway? You must have been a band kid!

By the way...
The Turf field is a NEED if all the events that occur on it want to continue! If we don't get turf we should reserve the field for ATHLETIC events only seeing that those orginizations are the only ones who are showing any concern or support for the field. Forget Music and Motion and Relay for Life!

RD said...

I do believe that both are a need, as well as many other things. However, set a deadline for the turf committee's report, then, based on their findings, see where it leads.

Maybe then there can be a much more informed discussion on the pros and cons. And it is not just the athletes and their parents that are in favor. I am an athlete's parent and the need for the locker room and field are about equal, in my opinion. I am sure there are many Marching Band parents who would favor the turf.

The problem with polling people as you campaign is that, as with all of us when we are for or against something, your views on the subject can influence the perspective voter at that particular time.

Let me give you a scenario from my perspective. Let's say, for the sake of arguement, that the turf committee files a report in favor of the turf. The BOE and TC approve using the funds. The various groups in town that support the field are able to raise $200G (Let's say that there is a 15 month deadline for the raising of the funds, which I don't know if that is realistic or not). Now, let's say the total for the field installation is $850,000-$1,000,000. Please remember that this is made up scenario. So, with the grant money of $525 and the private donations of $200, we come up with $725, which is somewhere between $125-275 short. This would then have to go to referendum, correct, if it was voted as part of the Capital Budget?

This means that the voters would have the opportunity to say yea or nay. But, if we never are able to reach the final report from the Turf Committee, I think we are doing a disservice to all.

I am all for being creative in how to solve these issues, but let's all be a little more ethical in the way we go about it. I tried to get out in front on the locker room issue back in 2007, but few, if any, on the BOE, the TC, or the school were willing to listen then. SOme folks were willing to listen last year and some headway has been made, but certainly not enough.

I have been vocal about both issues and in favor of both projects, but never, ever was it about my kid, because I knew that my kid would never walk into the new locker room as a player, or step onto the turf field as a player. It was never, and will never be about just my kid. It is about what is right for all of them, and for anyone else that utilizes these facilities.

Funny thing, 3 weeks from elections and I have not had anyone from any party contact me regarding the elections. Then again, our town has always wound up having the various boards and council vote along party lines on far too many issues. That may be the saddest part of all of this, the more things change , the more they stay the same.

okay, I think I have now stated my last sentiments on this site.


Contoured Views said...

The Turf field is a NEED if all the events that occur on it want to continue!

What is more important right now? Locker rooms or turf?

Have no beef with football team, actually enjoy going to the games. Not a band parent either (but that sounds like a cheap shot at the band kids).

Just trying to get our priorities in order.

RD appears to be a very concerned citizen and that is a good thing. I appreciate his concern and passion for this. It's too bad more people aren't like that.
We just need to work out the issues we have with the pool, locker rooms and other budgetary items.
I still haven't heard how much it will cost and how the remainder of the money will be raised.
Talk with CYB and ask them about how their fundraising is going to build the ball fields on the prison property. Not easy in this economy.

Tony Perugini said...

I sat in on the turf sub-committee meeting last week and I do have some insight into the turf costs, fundraising, etc. but no insight into health issues or reports, yet.

There are still many items that require a cost estimate. Field drainage (if the existing drainage system can't handle the faster runoff from the turf field) improvements, Conduit/Electrical wire routing, type of turf, g-max rating, silt/rubber fill mixture, type of paint to use for lines, whether or not to resurface the entire track once the turf field is installed, etc.

The $800K+ estimate is just that, an estimate at this point. Until the turf is spec'd and put out to bid whereby a design engineer at one of the competing turf manufacturer's comes back to us with a cost per our spec...the final number could be higher or lower. The plan is to submit the BOE's spec to bid at some point.

Fund Raising: Yes, there will be fund-raising but a detailed plan is in it's early stages. There was talk of hitting up the CHS alumni at $100 each. Whatever amount the fund-raiser doesn't cover...the BOE will have to go ask for more money from the Town Council.

Based on what I saw and heard that evening, the sub-committee is not ready to present a proposal to the BOE. I suspect we'll see a proposal in front of the BOE within the next 2 months.

Understand, that other ancilliary items not-directly included in the "Turf" proposal *may* pop up as part of the turf proposal. For example, the track. The track needs resurfacing. Parts of the track will be ruined by field construction process. Logic says...replace the track after the turf installation is complete. Some of these ancilliary items may or may not be funded by the BOE budget.

The sub-committee needs to finish it's job of scrutinizing and estimating every aspect of the turf project. Only then will we have a real picture of what this project entails.

Yes, it will be more expensive to maintain the Turf field vs. Grass because of the $600K replacement costs needed every 6-8 years. We'll have to sock away $70-100K per year in replacement costs.

Health Concerns: I have not seen any reports on the matter, yet. For me, this is an important piece of information that must be made available to the public for review. I touched samples of artificial that evening when I got home I smelled like recycled rubber. Will the emissions given off by the recycled rubber from Volvo cars used in the underlayment raise health issues? We don't know yet, officially, from the BOE.

Still too many unanswered questions on this project at this point in time. Personally, I'd much rather see this sub-committee ironing out our math curriculum issues, bus contract costs/bidding process failure, No Child Left Behind compliance (we can play the victim and numbers game but we still need a plan) and skyrocketing medical costs, for starters. In the case of turf...we desperately need a short AND long-term plan for our educational facilities. They are old, they are deteriorating and the are becoming more and more costly to maintain each year. Let's put it ALL out on the table for discussion.

Boys locker rooms is a NO BRAINER. I fully expect this project to get underway after 11/3 and IF Referendum Question #6 is approved by the voters. Why are we still talking about the boys locker rooms at this point? Let's get it done already for the sake of our students' health.

More importantly, as with ANY proposal coming from the BOE that requires spending the BOE must be more transparent and more forthcoming on the details if they want the public to continue funding it's projects. After all, it's not just the parents with children in the school system that helps pay the education budget but also the rest of the taxpayers in Cheshire that are often ignored in the process.

Vote Perugini 11/3.
- Tony Perugini
(R) Candidate for BOE

Anonymous said...

Turf shouldn't even be considered until all the health issues have been resolved. The state is conducting an investigation into the safety of these fields and until that study is completed nothing should be done. I know the BOE has stated that the safety issue has been resolved but if you read the newspaper articles,the people they contacted with regards to safety were the manufacturers. That's like asking a dairy farmer if milk is good for you. After that we can discuss the issue of cost.

Anonymous said...

3:49 says "Please remember that this is made up scenario. So, with the grant money of $525 and the private donations of $200, we come up with $725, which is somewhere between $125-275 short. This would then have to go to referendum, correct, if it was voted as part of the Capital Budget?"

Maybe Tim can clarify but this is part of the problem - it isn't even mentioned anywhere in the Five Year Capital Budget now!! And I suggest you listen to the replay of the 9-17 BoE meeting (Tim has it on the blog - the turf committee report to the boe). Behrer specifically says if they need more money, they can redirect funds from the Captial Budget or even look at the Town's Gift Account.
The way this whole project has been pushed through the back door is disturbing. The whole board never approved the idea of it and it and no one ever voted to apply for a grant. They don't want this in the Capital Budget or as any referendum question.

Greg said...

I don't follow the turf thing very closely but way back when it first came up the grant was for artificial turf for the PRACTICE FIELD ONLY and not the main football field. Has this changed?? I really don't know. Just asking. Please inform me IF you know the answer. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Health issues are a major concern. The State has not concluded their study as of this time. How crazy will it be if we go ahead with this and the State finds it's no good for our childrens health? Lifetime injuries and legal ramifications. What are we thinking? Why are we always putting the cart in front of the horse in Cheshire?

Breachway said...

Tony Perugini - my wife and I are both CHS grads - we will not be donating to the turf fund. Please request our $200 from the Town Council.....

Anonymous said...

Surf and turf the only issues that Cheshire has? I think not.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

"Surf and turf the only issues that Cheshire has? I think not.

October 17, 2009 2:07 PM"

It is, pool and field, or Surf and Turf.

Anonymous said...

Both of these are not big problems. How do we keep businesses and people in Town is a huge problem. Without both we will have no $$$$$. Wake up people.

Anonymous said...

"why are we not figuring out how we CAN do it."

Turf may or may not be a good idea, but with 8.9% unemployment in Connecticut it is prudent to put non-essential items like this on a future wish list. There are so many important items have to be addressed that it most taxpayers very upset to hear people who have not felt the recession keep advocating for turf.

Nobody really knows what the initial costs will be, the annual maintenance costs or the replacement costs in 6 years. We have to use some common sense and take care of the things that have to be addressed and leave items like turf until the economy recovers.