Selectmen Candidates Q&A: Athletic Complex Debt Exclusion
Part 2 in our Q&A series with the candidates for the Board of Selectmen deals with Question 1 on the Municipal Election ballot.
(Editor's Note: This is the second in a four-part series in which Tewksbury Patch asked the candidates for Selectmen for their views on some of the hot-button issues residents have been talking about. Part 2 deals with the proposed $1.935 million debt exclusion for an expanded athletic complex for the new high school..)
Do you support the $1.935 million debt exclusion being requested by the Friends of the Tewksbury Community Athletic Complex? why or why not?
Robert Marcin: Due to the current state of the economy and increases in our real estate taxes and water and sewer bills I could not support the override of proposition 2 ½ at this time; my main reason being its effect on the taxpayer. I am in favor of the improvement of our athletic facilities, however I feel as if we need to acknowledge larger issues before taking on more debt and putting a burden of more taxes on our residents. I believe that through fundraising and contributions from alumni, we can make improvements to our athletic facilities. During my son’s time as a student and member of the football team at Tewksbury High School, the field house at Doucette Field was being built. It is a great example of how we can come together as a community to make improvements to our athletic facilities and that a little effort from a lot of people can achieve great things. I am willing to lead and/or contribute to any fundraising activities that we may think of in the future.
Scott Wilson: I do support continuing to invest in our community. I partnered with the High School Building Committee to communicate the benefits of a new high school to my fellow residents. In turn, I voted for the $82M high school project and understood that the town’s obligation was $37M.
Now that the town’s cost has come in at $31M, adding the investment in the athletic complex brings us to $33M, which is significantly less than the original estimates that we all approved at the ballot. .
We have many important investments that need to be made in our community, but the athletic facility is one that is in front of us right now as the new high school is currently under construction. If we wait, we will lose the opportunity to take advantage of some significant cost savings.
I appreciate that a significant number of Tewksbury residents have volunteered their time, resources and energy to put this issue on the ballot. As a result of their efforts, all residents have an opportunity to weigh in on this decision.
I support Question 1 and encourage my fellow residents to support it as well, as we will all benefit from this investment in our community.
Kenneth Miano: First, I would like to commend the driving force behind the FOTCAC, such as Brian Dick and Paul Hibner, for all their time and energy spent on this project in the past, present and hopefully the future.
At this time, in our current financial situation, I cannot fully support a debt exclusion. Although one could rationalize that where the voters approved the original cost of the new high school and now it is projected to come in under budget, why not spend some of it on the new sports complex? One could also argue that we have no real hard evidence of the term of debt or when it is all said and done, what will the final cost per household be?
I am a huge supporter of Tewksbury youth sports, and while I want our kids to have the very best, I have to look at our current financial situation and in these tough economic times the result is nothing more than an exorbitant luxury. I would much rather see our money spent on education and retention of Tewksbury students, rather than they going to other schools. We cannot even keep the South Street Fire Station open full time or even the Town Hall. Possibly working together to find a range of ideas, such as a debt offering of some kind as well as naming rights, grants or advertising could bring the full package closer to fruition. But, at this time, I believe that installing lights and some type of a noise barrier for the abutters would be more advantageous to the community. I am sure that nothing could quite match the feeling of a community coming out for a “Friday Night Lights” event. The most, and I stress, the most important factor to consider is that everyone still has a vote and a voice through Open Town meeting to decide on its fate. So, if the citizens of Tewksbury come out and support this, then that is the will of the people.
David Gay: There is no doubt that Tewksbury could use a new athletic complex and I understand that the timing is an issue to coincide with the completion of the new high school scheduled to finish in the fall of 2012. I have heard many residents think that the timing is wrong and they are burdened with extra taxes and fees currently, especially with the sewer and water rates as they are. This is a prime example why residents should not give up their individual vote. If this passes at the Town vote on April 14th, this issue will go before the Tewksbury voters at Open Town Meeting in May where each individual registered voter will get their opportunity to decide if this complex should be part of the new high school at this point in time.
(Part 3 in our series, on Thursday, will deal with water and sewer rates.)