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Canton Chamber Weighs in on Idea of Studying Year-Round Feasibility for Mills Pond Pool

Submitted on behalf of the Canton Chamber of Commerce by: Michael D’Apice, President, Canton Chamber of Commerce

The Canton Chamber of Commerce has issued the following statement addressing the upcoming vote on 2/19 regarding the town-wide matter of a feasibility study related to a pool enclosure:

Canton recreational swimming has evolved from country waterholes requiring no ongoing maintenance into an infrastructure issue with a weighty price tag.  Notwithstanding the current debate about a pool conversion to an enclosed year-round facility, our much-used town pool asset is set to receive $400,000 for needed upgrades without prospects of reversing a reported $60,000 per year operating loss.

Now, enough residents have requested enhanced pool conversion. Yet Canton should neither blindly run toward nor blindly run from this pool conversion project.  In any project, because Canton can ill-afford monies to drip off of its balance sheet, a mindful assessment can prevent sins of commission in terms of inefficient spends while preventing sins of omission in terms of refusal to explore options for enhanced net revenue.  

Whether they are ‘for’ or ‘against’ such a pool conversion project, pool pundits already opine without benefit of critical wisdom gleaned from such a feasibility study as is up for vote on 2/19.  

Your Canton Chamber of Commerce business members are accustomed to feasibility studies, market surveys, focus groups, strategic plans and like tools intended to advance our members from surviving to thriving.  By measure of these tools we stress-test initiatives for product or service improvements before they are launched. At times these exercises return results advocating continuing in a direction while at times we learn that the probability of success is low and we should discontinue a direction.

Similarly, in this case a feasibility study simply takes ‘soundings’ of the waters ahead, preventing both ill-fated forward motion into jagged rocks and a self-limiting timid turnabout despite fair seas and clear sailing ahead.  Within its mindful analysis, accessibility, patronage and profitability issues will no doubt be better addressed professionally than can we as less-than-novices.                

Further, because every elected and appointed official, pool petition-signer and nay-sayer must surely agree that offsetting Canton’s current dependence upon residential taxes to feed our municipal budget is a matter requiring attention and intention, please consider that an improved-class facility in Canton holds the following positive potential:  increased enjoyment by town residents with associated increased pool revenue; increased Greater Farmington Valley use as a recreational and contest destination further increasing pool revenue and stimulating spending at Canton businesses during patrons’ short-term stays in town; increased business relocation to Canton (in-line with our Plan of Conservation and Development) by any firm attracted to quality municipal infrastructure for its valued employees. This potential revenue increase, Canton business bottom-line improvement and business tax base growth could reduce reliance upon our residential tax base.

Of course, potential can be of the other sort, an epic fail.

How then vote on 2/19?  This feasibility study seems a sensible path toward discerning whether we would create a ‘cash cow’ or a ‘money pit.’  It will come down to a ‘dollars and sense’ issue.  But doesn’t the reported current $60,000 per year loss look and quack like a ‘money pit’?

A “yes” vote to this study does not immediately approve the project in question but instead enables future sensible discussion around prospects for the ‘life’ of this project. A “no” vote to this study pronounces the project in question ‘dead on arrival’ without first examining the patient’s vital signs.

Because your Canton Chamber of Commerce is interested in ways to increase Canton’s net revenue apart from taxation, interested in reducing Canton’s reliance upon its residential tax base and interested in increased spending with Canton businesses, we urge that Canton voters consider ‘all’ternatives and seek this feasibility study so that we neither discard as refuse a self-sustaining precious gem nor adopt as panacea a self-delusive holy grail.   

We are thrilled to witness so many citizen-voices dialogue as we co-create our dear Canton together.

The Canton Chamber of Commerce is reached at (860) 693-0405.

MRW February 17, 2013 at 12:11 PM
You make a lot of sense. Please get the word out to as many of your members as possible for Tuesday's vote!
Brad Babbitt February 17, 2013 at 06:05 PM
I think the author is correct: it makes sense to find out what our options and opportunities are. Making decisions without facts doesn't make sense. So, let's take the next step and find out the facts.
Fred February 17, 2013 at 10:51 PM
An alternative view - Our governments, Federal, State, and now local are writing checks without money in the bank, accumulating debt so fast our future generations will never be able to pay for the obligations we are gleefully, like kids in a candy store, accumulating. Prior to spending over 10 thousand dollars in this economy, why don't we survey the town as to whether they even want a year round facility, and then, if that survey is positive, engage the cost/benefit analysis to see if it makes sense. As I look down a neighborhood cul-de-sac of 14 homes, there are 4 in-ground pools. How many other streets are like this? Further, on the next street over, in talking to neighbors, none use the current pool and see a year round facility as a expense that will not be able to be offset with fees requiring consistent taxpayer contributions. Are we really interested as taxpayers, in competing with local health clubs and the Y? In other words, do the taxpayers really want this, or is it a pet project of a select few?
corrin burke February 20, 2013 at 04:19 AM
I love going to the pool in the summer. I think it is a waste of taxpayers $ as there are indoor pools around if one wants to swim inside. Who wants to swim inside in the summer. It would really ruin the outdoor park at mills pond. Mills pond is such a great place for families to enjoy the outside. Having a huge structure ruin that would be plain sad. Drive to the nearby towns to swim inside and leave the outside pool alone.
corrin burke February 20, 2013 at 04:23 AM
Agreed! Well said!
Donna Carney March 05, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Corrin I agree with you a few people want to spend towns money and it and they take off if they want it let them go else where we are just fine with what we have. Some people just want, want, want...

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