Reader: Vote Yes! for the Track Nov. 6

By Jon Webb

Canton is an outstanding town.  We have many, many things to be thankful for: beautiful country, wonderful, caring and passionate neighbors, great schools, sound infrastructure and dedicated leaders.  Since moving to Canton in 2003 I have grown to love this community more each day.  Our town government has been ever mindful not to spend beyond our means so that our bond rating remains high and our overall finances remain healthy. 

That said, this conservative nature has also made us ‘do without’ as some desired facilities were constantly pushed to future years, even though they constantly held a foothold on our town’s capital improvement plan.  One of which is a town track and multi-purpose field.  Now is the time to add a track and multi-purpose field that will serve to erect another pillar to stand with those that already make Canton attractive and desirable for residents and businesses alike.

We are one of a small handful of districts that does not have such a facility.  The first concern this presents is that we force our cross country and track student athletes to practice in less than ideal and even unsafe conditions.  As unacceptable as these conditions are, I applaud these student athletes, their coaches and parents for their high achievements in recent years and can only imagine how much better they would perform under ideal practice conditions.   Additionally, home field advantages would surely ad to their success and provide needed visibility to these wonderful programs.

Furthermore there have been many studies that demonstrate Canton’s lack of field space for our growing youth sports programs.  Again, unsafe conditions are prevalent when fields are overused and aren’t maintained as they should.  A multi-purpose field with lights would provide town programs with more field time due to extending playing time beyond daylight hours and enabling activities to begin earlier in the spring and continue later into the fall due to the artificial surface.  Revenue from field rental to our town youth sports and outside organizations will also serve to defray maintenance expenditures.

The benefits don’t end with athletics.  This facility would serve as a community gathering place to watch our musicians perform and act as an outdoor classroom or theatre with expanded bleacher capacity.   As a town facility, seniors are welcome and invited to walk and exercise in a safe and well maintained environment.  In fact there will even be short term parking next to the track that enables easy and immediate access.  It will also provide our teachers valuable instructional opportunities for personal health and physical education programs.

It is clear that the track and multi-purpose field facility will benefit residents young and old in Canton.  As long as we strive to provide our youth with athletic and other fitness activities, we must provide facilities that are safe and in a manner that won’t erode other town assets as we are currently doing.  A track and multi-purpose field will also create a valuable place for the community to gather to show school and town spirit.

I commend our leaders for their efforts to keep Canton’s bottom line healthy.   I further commend the youth and school sports programs for making due with our current facilities, however, it is time for Canton to take another step forward.  Please vote Yes! on November 6th in support of the track and multi-field project.  (Detailed information about this project may be found on the town and school’s websites as well as informational meetings hosted throughout the community.)



Andrew Ziemba October 05, 2012 at 11:26 PM
1) I believe in charity. It seems you believe in forced charity (slavery) and i dont expect to change your mind, so i wont try. 2) if you cared about the kids or the community, id expect you to support or endorse funding for new tennis courts, a lighted park, or even *gasp* a public water fountain at mills pond. There are SO MANY better, more efficient, and possibly eben more UNIQUE things that we, as s town, can invest in. The track benefits... guess who? The school track team! If that expense is worth it for the convenience of not driving 10 minutes to the avon track then that is just silly.
Jennifer (Barri) Almeida October 08, 2012 at 11:24 PM
I'm voting YES on Nov 6! I have heard the points on voting NO, however, nothing truly resonates with my moral values. Personally, I was raised to invest in our future. In my opinion, student athletics are incredibly important. Today, college costs are at an all-time high and I want to give these students, who belong to a team, a fair shot at competing for a college scholarship. The track team alone has 12 different positions. That’s 12 different opportunities for many students to compete at the HS. YES, that’s potentially 12, 24, 40 different individuals who have a fair shot at competing for a scholarship. This isn't just for the Track Team, this helps further our Football, Soccer, Lacrosse and Field Hockey Teams. Please Vote YES on NOV 6.
Kelly Coppinger McLellan October 09, 2012 at 01:50 AM
This is a dream that many parents, students & community members have wanted & worked toward for years! Let's make it happen, Canton!! Vote YES!!!
Jay M. October 09, 2012 at 01:51 PM
1. No, you won't change my mind. I'm too old to become selfish and only worry about myself. Now that I'm older, I realize the importance of strong and vibrant communities. 2. I would support funding for new tennis courts, a lighted park or even *gasp* a public water fountain at mills pond. The track benefits just as many people as other specialized sports facilities, including the tennis courts. Arguably, the track and field project will benefit far more than any of the items you mentioned because the track will likely be used by the track team for competition, other sports for training, and the community for walking and working out. The field will be used by many sports at Canton.
Betty October 09, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Please vote NO on the track/field on Nov. 6th!! Canton needs to fix and maintain what we already have. The track/field will not give us direct or indirect economic development. Canton is 93% residential property. If anything it will give us more homes and more roads. We don't need more homes and more roads we have not been able to maintain the roads we have.
Betty October 09, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Jay, Do you think the 10 point increase in the mil rate will be good for the seniors that built this town? We need 18 million dollars of road repairs, if we do not repair the roads it will cost 4 to 5 times more to replace the roads. How are people going to drive to the field? Not enough thought and planning have gone into a complete build out to make this kind of financial commitment. It is irresponsible to move forward at this time.
Canton Taxpayer October 09, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Thing is - nobody's AGAINST the track -- it's a matter of going into more debt to pay for it -- it's a matter of assuming private fundraising will provide lights and bleachers and -- while $88K/year maintenance ALONE might not be that big of a deal to some of our wealthier citizens, that number will only go up year after year until we're forced to bond yet again for the replacement.......bottom line, we need roads, roofs and a town garage - we do not NEED a track. If the parents and the BOE are that excited about a track, find the funds in the education budget which is also from our town and state taxes. Fiscally responsible citizens of Canton -- VOTE NO on November 6th!!!!
Betty October 09, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Exactly what economic development are you suggesting will happen in Canton if we build the track and field?
Betty October 09, 2012 at 08:49 PM
I agree with Canton Taxpayer and Andrew. I don't believe people get the trouble we are in. I don't have kids in the school system but did donate generously to bring football back to Canton, and I don't even like football. I wanted to support the parents that were so passionate about accomplishing their goal. Going in to debt makes no sense, especially at this time.
Betty October 09, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I believe a pool would help and serve more people. I don't see how a track will be great for the town. Possibly people with interested kids. Invested and committed to the town? How about fixing the roads before we have to spend 90 million not "just 18 million" to have safe drivable roads. The track will not make Canton a more desirable and enjoyable place to live, how about the abutters? The noise, the litter, the lights, and a significant loss in their property value.
Jay M. October 09, 2012 at 09:01 PM
@Betty. 1. The world doesn't stand still for seniors. The focus of Canton should be on its future, not limited by its past. 2. People will drive to the track. 3. What more would you like to be done?
Jay M. October 09, 2012 at 09:04 PM
@Betty. I refer you to your earlier comment where you mentioned that "if anything [the track] will give us more homes and more roads." More homes is more economic development, even though it may not be the kind you want. More homes and "more roads" increases Canton's population base making it a more appealing place for shops and restaurants - shops and restaurants are also economic development. More roads also increases the opportunity for more office and industrial sites in the town.
Jay M. October 09, 2012 at 09:12 PM
@Betty. 1. You said that the track will not make Canton a more desirable place to live. You also said that the track "will give us more homes". Why would the track give us more homes if it doesn't make Canton a more desirable place to live? 2. Who cares about the abutters? They bought property next to the high school property - they should have known better if they didn't want to be near a school facility. 3. Thank you for the definition of invest. However, your generosity is misplaced. From the context, it is clear from the above comments that the commentators have been using "invest" in its colloquial form, not as a verb in the traditional sense. Please focus on reading the comments before responding.
Betty October 09, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I care about the abutters and so do many other Canton residents. Why do you say the school came first?
Jay M. October 09, 2012 at 09:27 PM
@Betty. Please respond to questions #1 and #3. As for #2, I'm glad you care so much about them. However, I do not believe advancement and improvements are to be held hostage to such concerns. There are only 2 options, people either bought homes near the school (need to live with the decision) or the school was built next to them (bad luck). Either way, improvements to the town should not be held hostage. Your support of NIMBY-ism is a sure roadblock to any sort of improvements in this town, either government or private sector.
Jennifer (Barri) Almeida October 09, 2012 at 09:45 PM
#1 the annual maintenance is $14,000 per year! The number you are talking about is incorrect. You are combining 2 different costs into one figure and that is misleading. As a side note, this (Track and field) “annual reserve fund” isn’t due for another 10 years. Please Vote YES on NOV 6
Canton Taxpayer October 09, 2012 at 10:02 PM
The $88k is directly from the Board Minutes posted on the Town website....as is the $3.4m cost to be bonded/borrowed.
Canton Taxpayer October 09, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Oh and please VOTE NO on Nov. 6 fiscally responsible citizens!!!!!!
Kelley Biskupiak October 10, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Any capital project has an economic cost however, when you look at the intrinsic value this project will add to our town…our community…how could you not vote yes? Our student athletes deserve what every other school district in the state of Connecticut (with the exception of three others) already provides for their students. This project will potentially not only provide for our students but for our small businesses that have struggled as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. An increase in foot traffic to local restaurants, gas stations and conviemce stores will be a result of hosting large tournaments or other large scale sporting events. Canton is changing and change is good. Let's make our community stronger. Vote Yes on November 6.
Andrew Charron October 10, 2012 at 06:03 PM
We can all agree debate is a good thing. I am a fiscally conservative person and do not want to see my taxes go up but at the same time you need to invest in your town. The point about the maintenance costs and concern are valid. However, I would argue that there are many ways the track and field can support those costs. We can raise revenues by selling advertising at the track, hosting tournaments and camps and reach out for donations to all support the future costs of maintaining the facility. Roads are needed in town and the On Track for Canton group is certainly understanding of this. The sad part is to my wife's point we are just sitting around and not improving our facilities. I would encourage everyone to reach out to the town leaders and push them to improve our land use processes. There are plenty of good commercial sites that could be developed and help to pay for all the projects mentioned. This is where I get frustrated and if the track helps bring this to light then it is a good thing. So the debate is healthy and we can affort the track and the other important upgrades if we truly promote responsible Economic Development.
Canton Taxpayer October 10, 2012 at 06:39 PM
VOTE NO! Our taxes will go up SIGNIFICANTLY -- see Board of Finance minutes -- due to this project that benefits the few while making the rest pay for it....and I would be more than happy to back this project if we were not borrowing to pay for it. So first things first -- promote responsible Economic Development, improve commercial revenue and THEN build the track/field. Seems every complaint about this state and this country is about taxes -- yet these same people are championing going into even more debt and voluntarily raising our taxes. Unreal.
Jay M. October 10, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Can you tell us how much our taxes will go up if the track and field project passes? Also, simply because "this project benefits the few while making the rest pay for it" does not mean it is not a worthwhile project. Virtually all town spending benefits the few while making the rest of us pay for it.
Jon Webb October 10, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Jay - Contrary to Mr. Taxpayer's comments, it will not increase our taxes SIGNIFICANTLY. The minutes he refers to reflects a mill rate increase for all projects (tracks, roofs, roads & garage). That said, the town has been asked for the financial impact due solely to the track and it was referred to Mr. Ohanesean who has yet to respond. On Track for Canton is trying to obtain this figure and will make it public as soon as we have an accurate figure.
Canton Taxpayer October 10, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Roofs - significant and we need them. Roads - significant and we all use them and we all need them. Town garage - hugely significant and we need one. Tack on the track and it is overall a SIGNIFICANT increase to our mill rate/taxes. Unless the track supporters are saying we can swap out one $3.6M project for another...VOTE NO
Ed October 30, 2012 at 10:54 PM
The road I live on is literally crumbling. Every road leading to the road I live on is crumbling. I can name a dozen other roads in town that are just as bad, including the western end of Simonds, which carries traffic for two schools and the community center. Our crumbling infrastructure will subtract far more from property values and quality of life than any running track will ever add. A running track would be nice, but now is not the time. When I can drive to this running track on decent, well-maintained roads, we can talk.
Michael October 31, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Canton is a unique town and we enjoy living here. However, as a recent transplant, my advice would be to 1) take care of what you have (i.e. roads, buildings, etc) and 2) increase your offerings to the community. As you increase your "value" to the community, you will have more people moving in. As a result, your property value will rise and, theoretically, your property tax should decrease. By increasing the value of what you offer (schools, parks, pools, tracks, etc), Canton will be seen as more desirable, and more people (and, just as importantly, businesses) will relocate. Then, perhaps, we can see a property tax along the lines of 17%, versus 32%. Vote YES on the track, and YES on maintaining the schools. And, while we're at it, let's figure out a way to bring in a Blight Ordinance! It's unbelievable (and embarassing) how many people, including those from surrounding towns, know the Hoarder's House on the corner of Lawton & Bahre Corner!
Michael October 31, 2012 at 12:42 AM
You may not want to use the track, but it paves the way to other things that you may use. If you grow your community, everybody benefits. If Canton is seen as a desirable alternative to Avon and Simsbury, then more people (and businesses) will chose to relocate here. Property values rise, and as more money is brought in, property taxes drop. Look at the difference in property taxes from Farmington versus Canton. OK, so you don't want to use the track. But, you may want a better pool. You may want better parks. Heck, we'd all like better roads. It starts with a vision, and I commend Jon. When there is more money in the pot (from increased property values), then there is more money to go around. Honestly, it's rather disgraceful that the kids don't have a place to practice. Your competition is Avon and Simsbury, and that is a fact you have to accept. Those towns offer far more (in the terms of school and community amenities) than Canton. What Canton has to offer is more of a rural feel, a tighter-knit community, a wonderful "we would like to know you" feel, and a "we're not so concerned about what kind of car you drive" acceptance. Those things don't have to change. But, we need to take care of what we have, and we need to grow.
al coffee November 06, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Michael, too bad you're so perfect. If you took a moment to know the two humans beings living at the intersection of the Bahre Corner and Lawton you might have empathy for them. They are kind and loving individuals who happen to suffer from an affliction. Be great if you were to transplant yourself to, "perfect land." For those of us who have spent the majority of our lives in Canton we know that it contains a unique cultural diversity, hoarders and all. Vote no on the track, believe in the logic as to why based upon the Board of Finance Chairman's position,
Ed November 06, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Michael's advice to "take care of what you have" is absolutely correct... except for the part about building a track, which we don't have. The cost of letting roads and roofs and town garages deteriorate in order to build a "nice to have" athletic facility is huge. Frankly, I'm stunned that the track is even being considered. It's way off the charts of reasonable. If it ends up approved, it will mainly just demonstrate that parents will vote their kids anything they want and the rest of us will have to pay for it.
Canton Taxpayer November 06, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I ended up voting NO on both the roofs and the track....we need roofs but if all of the "must-haves" of a garage, driveable roads, roofs, track and next an indoor pool get approved for bonding/borrowing? I'll be taxed out of town.


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