Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pool vote results and next steps

The pool structure was rejected by a margin of 2572 to 1621. That's 61.3% of the voters opposed to the $7,068,000 expenditure and 38.7% supporting it... with no "blank" votes.

I was wondering if there would be any blank votes as one person asked me if that would qualify for "fill-it-in." When I told her I doubted the Council would interpret her vote that way, she decided to vote "no."

As for my vote -- and as I said before -- I voted "no." Though I am glad the voters had the option of voting on the structure. I've spent years in a consensus-building effort to defund the bubble. But that hasn't gained any traction. So I figured "surging" ahead with the structure was my only course of action because it was still a better option than the bubble.

Frankly though -- and quite unfortunately -- I had one reporter tell me that another Council member has already begun discussing shelving the structure for future use. Unreal!

Some people just don't want to take no for an answer... reminds me about all the original pool votes that got rejected until one finally passed. But even worse, the comment reminded me about yesterday's Rasmussen poll that basically suggests voters simply don't trust politicians. Anyway...

Next step?

I'll continue in my efforts to defund the bubble and make it summer-only. And at that point -- and only at that point -- I would be willing to consider supporting a regular-sized pool... 25 meters and six lanes... no more of our local version of Too Big To Fail. And that's exactly what our pool is. With failed referendum after failed referendum, former Councils continued making more and more promises to everyone... until it was all-things-to-all-people. Then, and only then, did it pass.

And I'm the first to say the pool we have is nice. And the structure would be nice. But then, it would be nice if Social Security began at age 37 and I could retire today!

The fact is government can't do everything.

Again -- and as I stated publicly a few years ago -- I would consider supporting a year-round pool. But not if it's TBTF... because as Senator Bernie Sanders made clear with the banks... if it's TBTF, then it's Too Big To Exist!

Hopefully, we'll soon move past the bubble. Then the Council and voters can have a rational discussion about an affordable pool.

My thinking is fairly simple. The pool would be open year-round for 12 hours per day. It would be open to:

1) the public from 8am to 2pm year-round;
2) the boys swim team from 2pm to 8pm for their three mos season;
3) the girls swim team from 2pm to 8pm for their three mos season; and
4) the Seadogs from 2pm to 8pm for the other six months.

Would that make everyone happy?


But government is lying when it says it can be all-things-to-all-people. It's simply unsustainable.

Finally, the local roundup on the pool results, include the NHR, WRA, and MRJ.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

Any future referendum vote on the pool should be for a seasonal vs. a year round pool. Let's face it the pool gets the most use in the summer months.

However, I might support a year-round structure if the pool was FREE for Cheshire residents. A friend in Wallingford (they pay $10 per family for the entire summer season) was shocked to learn that I spent $20 for a one day pass for my family or that I'd have to pay $330 for an annual pass.

Anonymous said...

I agree, if the option was year round and free for residents vs. seasonal then I would vote for the year round. The cost is too much for some people to swallow.

Also, looking at Tims 12 hour day schedule, how is it a community pool if working people cannot use it? The times make it available for the retired, self employeed, and privlaged few that can make their own schedule. To be a community pool, the COMMUNITY needs to be able to use it. When the swim team members, not mommy and daddy, all pay property taxes then they can have their own time in a town funded building.

Maybe we can look at improving Mixville now.

Anonymous said...

8:02 - my thought s exactly. To me part of the reason I never renewed out family pass after the first season was because the swim teams got all the time...

Anonymous said...

The Bubble and its pool can now stand for what they really represent, a small group of dedicated POOLIES and our town government at all levels. From our elected officials who should have been looking out for our financial well being down to town workers who crank up the thermostat to stratospheric levels on cool winter days it is a massive consumer of tax revenue.

Will be real interesting to see if those stories of the bubble bursting at almost any moment will actually ever be realized. Maybe the thing will remain inflated for many years to come. After all their seems to be no end to the hot air and bluster associated with this turkey!

Anonymous said...

Tim Slocum must smoke opium. He commented we should keep the plan for future use!!!??? How he got appointed mayor is beyond me!

Anonymous said...

so - where are all the 'loud mouth VOTE YES, THIS WILL PASS', poolies today??
no words of wisdom after the huge 'NO' win last night? SO MUCH smack talk on here, now nothing?

Anonymous said...

If a year round pool is such a MUST for those who support it, why don't they do fundraising like those for the turf field? Love it or hate it, the pool is a luxury, especially at $7M.

Anonymous said...

Stop using the hair gel Tim....you look like a goof and it is seeping into your brain. You are making less sense every day....
You have been trying to "defund the bubble"....in other words you want a summer only pool.
So the town will never have a place to swim indoors....ever. Seniors with health problems can go elsewhere. Handicapped kids can go elsewhere. People interested in good health through exercise can go elsewhere. The numerous swim teams can go elsewhere. Screw' em, right Tim?
To some people that is just fine. To others it is a real loss since swimming is recreation for people of all ages and physical abilities.
To some of the above comments.....must be hair gel users too....
"I'd support the pool if it was free". Oh really? Then the taxpayer subsidy would be BIGGER and people would be bitching over having non-users pay for the "swimmies". How about having the users pay for what they use....which is what we have now.
The comment about people not being able to use the pool when the swim teams are practicing is false....you obviously don't know what you are talking about. The reason why the pool was built larger than some other facilities is EXACTLY so different groups could be using it at the SAME time. It was built for the entire community....not just the swim teams.
"It cost too much for people to swallow".....nonsense. Go out and price membership in "summer only" swim clubs or the Y's in the area (which you have to drive farther to get to) and you will find that the fees for our pool were very reasonable. If you can't afford them or don't think they are worth it, fine. Don't use the pool. But it is a lie (one of many being told) to say that the pool "costs too much" to use. Do some comparison shopping.
As for the pool only being used by a "small group".....yes, just like almost every other program in town. What % of the town uses the senior center? (Which costs MORE to run each year than the POOL!) If you go on who uses what, let's close the senior center. Really. Its a waste of moeny since only the "oldies" use it.
How about the rail trail? That has to be maintained.....and how many people use that? And how often? Probably just a small group of "walkies".....so let's shut that down. Nobody will miss it.
How about the schools? less than 40% of the households in Cheshire have kids in the schools. If the parents want a decent education for their kids, have then go to private school.
Where does it stop?
This pool fix could have gone a long way to resolve a problem and provide a good recreation facility for all ages. But now we are left with the bubble and perhaps, eventually, summer only what Tim White wants.
Finally, to put $7million in perspective, we would spend that 7 mil spread over 20 years. During those same twenty years (without any increases in the existing budget) we will spend $1.2 BILLION on the BOE budgets.
Let's privatize education......

Anonymous said...

too late - it's over 10:33, the sensible people have spoken - MOVE if you don't like it

Anonymous said...

get a grip 10:33. Maybe if you do you'll begin to see that wanting to spend other people's money sometimes requires their permission up front.

This time the majority proclaimed NO MORE MONEY for the ongoing town pool fiasco.

If Obama and his Democrats get their way on energy pricing soon with gasoline at $7/gal how much will the current winter use pool heating go up? What will happen when the heating bill hits 1 million a year for the current mess? Oh, the proposed new mess would decrease energy costs by only 35% so if we spent another 10 million to build it energy costs would only be 650 thousand dollars.

A summer only pool will save us more and more as time goes by.

Anonymous said...

Dear Council majority,
We voted down this scheme by as wide a margin as we elected you, and for the same reason: we want fiscal restraint.

And don't assume this means we want the bubble. Now let's talk about what most taxpayers really want: a summer-only pool. Let's have a bubble vs summer-only question on the November ballot.
Ignore us to your peril.

Anonymous said...

"This time the majority proclaimed NO MORE MONEY for the ongoing town pool fiasco."

Correct. Though, it was a good idea and I'm glad that the TC tried to get it right but it's a want...not a need.

The voters sent the same message last night as we did last November...enough of the political banter, get our spending under control, get our priorities under control and exercise fiscal responsibility. This is not the time to spend precious tax revenue on nice-to-haves and YES that also includes the bloated education budget.

"Tim Slocum must smoke opium. He commented we should keep the plan for future use!!!??? How he got appointed mayor is beyond me!"

This is not a bad idea. Remember, the enclosure started with last TC which was Democrat majority. In two election cycles, when the dems regain majority on the TC you will see them present a modified version of the enclosure proposal. It's call recycling.

Mark Spitz said...

This isn't about Seniors, Handicapped kids, nor people who like to exercise;

(um...that last group can come mow my lawn for free anytime they choose.)
It is about paying 7 million in this tax challenged economy for a clique.

However...I do support a nice buzz haircut for Tim. Just say to the barber what Clint Eastwood said to the barber in "Hamburger Hill", in a raspy voice...'make it high and tight'. Towel dry, one pea sized dollop of gel on the finger tips, not palms, rub through, no combing.

Anonymous said...

tim, seriously - you need to abolish these ppl who make personal comments about you or anyone else, - can you imagine having NO OTHER life than to make fun of someone else anonymously?? so insane, and very sad. you should all be ashamed!

Anonymous said...


Haven't smoked opium.

As for my comments regarding the resurection of the Openaire structure, The Register asked me if the TC would consider putting this referendum to the voters again in November. I said NO. I did say I would not support a new bubble when that has to go to the public at referendum. I also said the openaire plans would be available to future councils when bubble trouble erupts (and it will).

The town council delivered on a promise to put the pool enclosure to a public referendum. It was researched. The public responded and voted it down 2:1. Thats due process.

The bubble will go up in the fall and the subsidy will work its way through next years budget cycle with some more groaning from the public but at least you have spoken to the issue. Council will do its best to ensure we are not wasting more on the pool given the arena we have to work in.

Some in this blog and others in town want to fill the pool in. I don't support that, never have.

One very good thing arising out of this process was the quality of the volunteer effort assembled to vet the two proposals and present lifecycle costs, etc. This had never been done before. This is a model for other projects the town has to take on in the future. To their effort we should all be thankful. Volunteers in this town work very hard on your behalf. You have every right to disagree with them and come to your own conclusions but it is unfair to characterize them as in it for this reason, cause, or other unseemly reason imagined.

Thanks to the 4,400 that did their homework and voted. That is 2/3rds of the number that voted in the last local election. Yes a shabby number when considering the total voter registration but not too bad against the backdrop of who really cares about their town.

I'm looking forward to the capital budget so I encourage all budget busters to come out and kick the council around some more. I hope you have as much fun as I do.

If you have gotten this far I will try to get an answer from Tim White as to why he wondered if there was any blank ballots cast. Yes he does leave me scratching my head from time to time...and he knows it.

Tim Slocum TC Chairman (by their unanimous consent)

Anonymous said...

What makes a community? It is sad to see that voters in this town seemed more concerned with their dollars than their sense. 10:33 has a perspective on community.

And with this vote, high school swim teams (a source of community pride?) should prepare for disbanding from lack of funding. $6000 a team (times 2 for girls and boys) for practice transportation and more for pool rental is an expense that the school budget will not handle.

proudswmr said...

To the original poster; we are not from Cheshire and opted to pay the FIVE HUNDRED dollar family pass to tbe Cheshire pool. It's expensive but worth it. Especially in the Winter and now again in the beautiful Summer evenings. We are working people too and the hours suit us. I don't finish till 6pm and always have pool time available.
The Wallingford town pool is not the one to point to as an comparison. We took out the residents' pass one year when our kids were preschoolers. The lifeguards, cleanliness and safety at the Cheshire pool is streets ahead.
Tim, the SeaDogs are a year round team. They swim long and short course so 6 months wouldn't work for them. Although given that they pay a lot for use of the pool maybe they could save money by looking elsewhere to practise. Beacon Falls high school was a great facility that the SeaDogs used in the past.
There are so many Anonymouses posting it's difficult to respond to their points. I would like to stress that the seadogs pay to use the pool. Their parents shop in Cheshire, fill the gas tanks in Cheshire and the kids offer a positive image of the town when they travel throughout the state and country. Even with a moldy bubble and no pool of their own they manage to compete at the National level. You can't buy such publicity. Outside of the state Cheshire is known for two things, gruesome murders and a good swim team. I have lived in 5 states and these are the only points of reference nonCt people have.
Someone said when the team members pay taxes they can have their own time in a town funded building. They are paying for the time! And by that logic, nobody living in Elim Park should be allowed to vote since they contribute nothing in taxes.
Maybe a summer pool is a good idea. The bubble certainly isn't. The enclosure might have been a good idea though I understand the sticker shock.
It's a pity though that many more people don't use the pool. It looks superb these Summer evenings, and worth every penny of the 500 buck pass.

Anonymous said...

It is too bad that these people feel the swim teams will have to disband because of this vote, but $7 million is just too much to spend while in the midst of an economic downturn.
10:33 sounds like a poor loser. Grow up and accept that the majority of the voters choise not to fund this project. That is how democracy works. You can go and compare the pool to the senior center or the school system, but the bottom line is that none of them were asking for $7 million this year.
For some reason, the town did not want to provide accurate usage figures to its residents, yet, they wanted us to vote on this. WHY?? I personally voted no mainly becasue I felt it wasn't getting used enough by the town residents.
The swim teams at the high school and the seadogs do not represent a large portion of our town.

I understand that we will have to face a bubble question in the near future. Lets hope we have beeter options then what was presented to us on Tuesday.
How much would it cost to build a smaller pool attached to the high school, that would be adequate for swim meets? I have to believe it would be less that $7 million.

Anonymous said...

8:25 has an amazing view of things "Outside of the state Cheshire is known for two things, gruesome murders and a good swim team. I have lived in 5 states and these are the only points of reference nonCt people have. "

I have on a number of occasions, flying back from the west coast, struck up conversations with west coasters. On a number of occasions telling them I'm from Cheshire brings quick questions about Blackies. Never has anyone mentioned murders or swim teams though.

Imagine how Blackies could be transformed for 7 million dollars. Then again they seem to have been able to exist in their circa 1954 building for over 50 years without a massive rebuild. Bet they even have more customers then the town pool does!

Anonymous said...

Blackies did increase the size of the kitchen over the winter

I voted against the pool because I does not make sense to cover a 2 million dollar pool with a 7 million dollar roof. If I knew how many people used it, then maybe I could see a need. Saying that the swim teams will disband because of this is a little premature. The girls began their record run without the town pool. Most of their wins came without the pool. Life will go on without the pool and/or the swim teams.

IF the numbers are presented in a few years when this comes up again and the economy can support it, then I would reconsider my vote. I agree that laying off 16+/- teachers while asking for $7mil is rediculous. We need to plan for the bubble replacement now by getting all of our ducks in a row. Fairness between the town and ALL of the unions needs to be met. Roads need to be in better condition. Infastructure needs to be up to date and working properly. If these are met in a few years, myself and many others would vote for a less costly roof.

Anonymous said...

Glad you don't smoke opium but your quoted comments, perhaps at an attempt to appear fair & balanced, (sic) makes me wonder if you're a potential Shelton Dill...

The TC, TM & BOE have HUGE fiscal challenges in the next 8-10 years & I am convinced all have underestimated (especially the BOE)the enormous sacrifices that are going to have to be made just to maintain essential services. Defeating the pool referendum was a good first step...

proudswmr said...

OT sorry, 10.08 the Cheshire murders even made it into newspapers in Ireland and England so think what you like. And without question the swim team is known nationally (and feared I might add)
I had to look up what Blackies was so I guess we hang with different groups.

Anonymous said...

9:50 AM

The actions of the TC majority during this past budget cycle clearly demonstrate our understanding of the fiscal challeges facing the town. We haven't won many new friends from some quarters. Not a goal just a fact.

We did cut the budget increase requested by BOE. We kept your tax increase to a bare minimum. We face another very tough year and have noted this over and over. Forewarned doesn't make it any easier but I don't care if I lose an election either to get it right.

Operational savings are a real issue and right now our highest operational costs are people. This is where tough talk has to be carefully measured.

Your NO vote has sustained higher operational costs for the pool but the pool is mere speck on the Town's overal 96 million dollar budget.The groaning over a 400K subsidy agianst the backdrop of this number is amazing to me.

Please don't concern yourself over who I may become. If you have misread me so be it but please judge me by my record, which on examination focuses dierectly on your concerns .

Tim Slocum

Anonymous said...

10:47 a.m. - -"...Your NO vote has sustained higher operational costs for the pool but the pool is mere speck on the Town's overal 96 million dollar budget.The groaning over a 400K subsidy agianst the backdrop of this number is amazing to me. ..."

The town pool has been for some reason very attractive to town politicians for too many years now. Many of us voters thought you guys would have learned some time ago. Apparently you learned some wrong lessons.

Many of us long ago figured out that the pool will require greater and greater subsidies to run forever. There is no way with the size of this town that the town will ever be able to run a pool at a break even point based on gate receipts.

Why the town council decided to make the massively expensive upgrade to the pool your center piece activity of your first year in office escapes most of us. Possibly you folks spend way too much time sitting behind that big table at council meetings listening to small groups of whining special interests. Maybe you need to spend more time stopping people on street corners and asking what they think too.

If you thought tax payers were ready to hand over 10 million or so for a pool so that energy costs could be reduced 20% you missed the other 80%. Shut the pool down every Labor Day and you would save us almost 100% of the pool energy costs. Over 20 years that savings could be as high as 10 to 20 million depending upon how high energy costs go.

Our NO votes did not sustain higher operational costs. Those higher costs are associated with a town government, from elected officials on down to the worker in the street who for some reason can't seem to get anything right concerning the pool. Your simplification that just handing over another 10 million will magically make things right is JUST WRONG.

Go fix town government first and when you are successful come back and ask us for another 10 million.

Anonymous said...

9:50 AM
Your comment about my 'NO" vote costing the Town more $$ was scary--I guess you, too, did not get the voters messege: Make it a seasonal pool!

I agree with 1:11PM--get out LISTEN to what people have to say & then act on it.
Why would I vote for a $7 million pool cover when I have daily drive over a structurally deficient bridge on Country Club Road, when (3) of our school buildings (Darcey, Chapman, Hummiston) are full of lead & asbestos, when we have a bloated bureaucracy that all TC's seem to nurture?
Our 2010 family income will be down 22-25% (YOY) due to my spouse's layoff & reduced bonus earnings due to the economy. I am looking at survival, my friend, which forbids me to think that by NOT spending $7 Million, COSTS us money. Same rationale Obama is using.

Anonymous said...

RE: "I am looking at survival, my friend, which forbids me to think that by NOT spending $7 Million, COSTS us money. Same rationale Obama is using."

Yeah, like with the big banks, some think the pool "is too big to fail."

There are now two options with the pool: continue to use the bubble, or convert to summer-only use. We expect full and serious consideration of the latter.

Anonymous said...

"I agree that laying off 16+/- teachers while asking for $7mil is rediculous."

There were not 16 teachers laid off.

brianofthelastpear said...

To whomever wants to ban comments for any reason, and who posts under the name of 'anonymous', I, Mark Spitz say...pshaw. Pish posh, thou art prissy and fey, and entrenched.

I bet you have highlights.

Here is me. Where are you?

Anonymous said...

Spending to fix the pool is in no way attached to the education budget. If you think that is the x=case your right to vote should be removed.

The two issues are totally distinct and separate.

The pool serves a specific population and the school supporters serve another.

It is wrong to mix the two.