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Canton Finance Board Defers Decisions on Bonding Package

While Mills Pond pool replacement requests were central to the public hearing discussion, the Board of Selectmen said there wasn't enough information available to endorse it.

Four capital projects were under consideration for financing in a proposed town of Canton bonding package amounting to over $20 million, but an item off the table took center stage during public comment Monday at a joint special Boards of Selectmen and Finance meeting.

Many residents are asking for the . As of 11:13 p.m. Monday, 253 people had signed an online petition that Canton parent Robert Miller posted on Aug. 15. In an letter addressed to First Selectman Richard Barlow on the petition website, he asks town officials to consider it for bonding.

"We have a $2 million asset there," said Miller, who is the father of a swimmer on the . "Why are we waiting for it to fail before we do something about it?"

While almost the entire room of residents at the meeting, many with Dusky Dolphins swimmers in the family, raised their hands in support of it, the selectmen collectively agreed there wasn't enough information to act on it at this time. Selectman Stephen Roberto, who supports the idea of pool improvements and has brought the topic up at previous meetings, said he would like to know whether a private company is another option.

However, the Board of Selectmen referred all four of the projects already being considered for bonding to the Board of Finance. In a meeting that immediately followed the special meeting, the finance board deferred making a decision until Aug. 29. The special meeting will be scheduled for 7 p.m. in the . Canton's Capital Projects Study Group previously recommended bonding a prioritized list of capital projects soon to take advantage of low interest rates.

Canton Public Schools and community center roof replacement, road repair and highway garage projects were unanimously supported by the Board of Selectmen.

The only one the board was split over was a proposal to install a new six-lane track with eight sprint lanes, a multi-use turf field and lights at . While Roberto and Selectman Lowell Humphrey voted against it, it passed 3-2. They both liked the idea of a new track and field, but were concerned about the maintenance.

"I don't think it is a responsible project right now," Humphrey said.

The Board of Finance will be considering the following anticipated project costs before approving the ones that will go on the ballot in a November referendum.

Latest Project Cost Estimates

  • Roof replacements: $3,073,442
  • at 5 Cherry Brook Rd.: no more than $7 million
  • : $3,456,500
  • Pavement management program for road repairs: $7.5 million

A proposal to renovate the high school parking lot might be included in the pavement management program plans.

Once the finance board has approved some or all of the four projects for bonding consideration on the ballot, the board will bounce them back to the Board of Selectmen to set the ballot questions and referendum date.

The selectmen have not decided at this time whether the projects will appear as individual questions on the ballot or one combined total bonding package question. Two members of the public asked that they be individual questions so that the vote isn't all or nothing. Board of Finance member Mary Tomolonius agreed.

"I think it's very important to have it as separate questions," she said in the joint meeting. "They should have the right when they vote to be given the chance to vote on the project they want to pay taxes for."

Bob Franks August 21, 2012 at 11:53 AM
When I read these stories I cannot help but feel that locally and nationally our leaders are out of touch with the needs and wants of the people who elect them. How can they turn a deaf ear to the expressed desire of the community for a new pool that would benefit all families and make Canton a more desirable place to live? And what further information di they need and why can't they get it? It doesn't seem like rocket science. Further, how can a town garage cost 7 million dollars?!??? What kind of garage is it? A Taj Mahal? Has lthe public been made aware of the details of this plan? Perhaps if funds were being spent more responsibly there would be room for all the projects on the table!
Canton Taxpayer August 21, 2012 at 01:55 PM
600 or even the "projected" 1000 people who sign an online petition do not make a consensus for a bonding project that hasn't even been brought to the attention of the Town before last week. The building committee would need to get some kind of site/design information to send an amount to bond. And while you may think there's some outcry for a new pool in town, why not have the vote and see which projects are considered most important, most fiscally responsible, and most necessary before assuming all of Canton is behind the bonding for a new pool? If the Board of Finance nixes the track & the pool, maybe they ARE listening to the taxpayers who don't want to go into 20 years of debt to pay for them. As for the garage, I think the building guys explained it pretty well - $7M is mostly for the site work, not the building itself. It doesn't appear luxurious at all. And that's a project that has been put off for far too long -- it needs to be done. As do the roofs. As do the roads.
Canton Taxpayer Too August 21, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I agree that the Board of Selectmen need to allow the taxpayers to vote on each item individually in the November referendum. Unfortunately, I had the clear impression last night that some of our Selectmen are opposed to letting the taxpayers have this kind of control. Having also seen the plans for the "Taj Mah-Garage" at last night's meeting, I would clarify that that the site work was estimated to cost around 3 million while the structure itself would cost around 4 million. The conversation about the Burlington Garage (constructed at a cost of 1.5 million for the garage structure alone - i.e., no site work) did little to persuade me that we need to spend 4 million on the garage structure alone. Also to clarify, the Selectmen DO have site/design information about a new pool, as the Selectmen themselves cited a figure of between 1.5 and 2 million dollars for the construction of a new pool. The poor condition of the town pool is NOT a new topic and those who suggest that the issue has just been raised in the last week are mistaken. This has been an ongoing conversation, but one which some of our Selectmen have refused to take seriously. Again, the most important issue is that as taxpayers, we should be allowed to vote on each of these projects individually. If the Selectmen do not put these issues on the ballot individually, they must provide a legitimate justification for not letting us control the money we work so hard to earn.
Canton Taxpayer August 21, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Agree - because everyone has their own opinion on these expenditures so let the people be heard.
N. Jon I. Twist August 23, 2012 at 05:32 PM
As a tax payer I would like Robert Miller to explain how the existing pool is going to fail. I didn't know properly installed conceate pools had an expected life. I am aware of some larger pools that have been in service longer than Canton Pool. Or is this the new car syndrome.

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