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Residents Form Group to Advocate for Track, Multi-Use Field Project at Canton High School

Voters will decide in November whether town should bond for facility.

A group of Canton residents has gone on the offense when it comes to advocating for a proposed track and multi-use field facility at Canton High School.

Dubbed "On Track for Canton," the group is urging people to vote yes on Nov. 6. The ballot question asks residents whether the town should bond $3.6 million for the project, broken down as follows.

  • $2,092,000 on the 6-lane track with 8-lane spring area and enclosed multi-use synthetic field
  • $1,043,000 on parking lot and driveway improvements
  • $480,000 on design fees and contingency.

The entire cost of the project is actually an estimated $4.1 million but the Board of Finance trimmed $500,000 and The Board of Education agreed that funding for the scoreboard, bleachers and light poles/lighting could be raised separately. The lights would also require a zoning change or variance before they could be installed.

In its flyer the group also acknowledges annual maintenance of $14,000 and an estimated $74,000 per year that would be set aside for eventual surface replacement and long-term maintenance.

The track project has been somewhat controversial in town, with advocates saying a track and additional field space is needed and that it's good time for the town to sell municipal bonds, or "borrow" money due to low interest rates. They also contend that it will be good for the entire community.

Detractors argue the project is far from a necessity, especially during tough economic times. Some have argued it's too costly and/or that the town should take care of other infrastructure first. Several neighbors to Canton High School have also expressed concerns about the direct impact of the project.

"On Track" member Jonathan Webb, however, feels the majority of townspeople support it.

“We know the majority in town are for it; however it won’t happen unless everyone comes together and votes,” Webb said. 

To that end the group will hold a meeting Thursday, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Canton Indoor Golf Center.

“We would love to see not only those with children that will benefit in future years but those whose children have graduated, or seniors who want to learn more about how they can help,” Webb added. 

The group also has a facebook page.

Despite the moniker of PAC on the facebook page, Web said the group is not a Political Action Committee and does not plan to raise $1,000, the threshold to register as one.

Webb said those interested in helping the group but can't make the meeting could also contact the following people.

The track is one of two capital projects that will be on the ballot.

The other is partial roof repair and replacement on all three schools and the community center. 

A proposed garage and road improvements will not be on the ballot. The boards of Finance and Selectmen had moved those forward and selectmen set one ballot question for the two projects. However, selectmen pulled the plug after appraisals for 5 Cherry Brook Road, the proposed garage site, came in lower than the proposed purchase price. At the time it was too late to send a new question to the secretary of state's office for inclusion on the ballot.

For the projects on the ballot, there are several meetings residents can attend. 

 The school district is also hosting the following meetings: 

  • Oct. 10, 2012 - Canton Middle School PTO Meeting, 7 p.m., Canton
  • Middle School
  • Oct. 16, 2012 - Special Board of Education Meeting, 6 p.m., Canton
  • High School Library

In addition, on Oct 24 at 7 p.m., an official town meeting will give residents the chance to learn more and comment on the proposals. The meeting will then adjourn to a referendum on Election Day, Nov. 6. 

More information and exact ballot wording can be found at http://www.townofcantonct.org/content/74/14584.aspx

<Michael Maulucci October 10, 2012 at 11:43 AM
How can a justification for the field and track prroposal be made and the roads project be taken off the ballot? THere has ben very little money spent on the roads. the roads have been nelglected for a long time! MJM Canton
John Fitts (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Hi Michael. The roads were bundled with the garage project so when that was pulled, they both had to be taken off. I have to be careful here and am not advocating for anything but I can tell you the roads (and garage) are still being discussed. I think you will likely see a referendum with the road funding and perhaps the garage proposal some time in the first half of next year.
Cindy October 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM
John, is the meeting September 11 or October 11?
John Fitts (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Yes that would be October! Thank you.
Andrew Ziemba October 10, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Since you asked, I will answer. We live in Connecticut, an extremely liberal state. Just as neocons want to bomb and blow up everyone, liberals want to "help" and "contribute" to everyone. In this case, liberals are so clouded in their judgement, that they feel that Canton is lagging behind its neighboring towns. Now here's the silly, and downright dangerous part. What these people want now, is this. Let's say Avon built a big monument to Obama. All of them would come out of the woodwork and say "WE NEED ONE TOO, BUT MAKE IT BIGGER AND BETTER. COST DOES NOT MATTER!" It's like a competition, but rather than competing, they are just copying. Now, a logical, rational thinking person would first take care of roads and town maintenance...Perhaps after those critical issues are dealt with, then the town can consider what would improve the town and make it unique, or stand out in some way. If everyone is building soccer fields, you should build a football field. If everyone is building tennis courts, you should build a permanent outdoor skating rink for the winter. This is how you become a beacon of uniqueness and draw people to the town who will spend money to enrich our town.
Betty October 10, 2012 at 02:13 PM
I have a great deal of respect for Andrew and feel that there are many wonderful things that would be nice to have in Canton, a year round pool, a dog park, the multipurpose field and all the 19 other fields we desire. It would be great to have many wonderful things, but reality is we have not allowed much in the way of new revenue in Canton for many, many, years, and we have deferred repairs to much of our infrastructure. In the November election we will not be voting on the $18 million dollars that is needed to repair our roads. We will not be voting on the $8 million dollars we were expecting to vote on. If we do not repair our roads the cost to replace them will be 4 to 5 times as much, or worse case scenario $90 million dollars. How much longer can we defer the roads? I appreciate wanting the field and have contributed to help the parents bring football to Canton, I would like to see more planning go in to a project of this magnitude. I question if the location is the best location for the field. I was in a meeting recently and someone suggested using Bowdoin Field. Someone else said the lights would be seen from East Hill Road. Have we really done all the home work we need to do on this project? Is it really prudent to commit this kind of funding at this time?
Betty October 10, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I was at the meeting that the BOS took the bundled roads and highway garage off the ballot. I believe they spoke about having another referendum by "April" or "spring" I can't remember which.
Jen Charron October 10, 2012 at 03:14 PM
While I support this track and field project, I think it's important to note that this project includes more than the track and field. Over $1 million of the project includes a badly needed "redo" of the entrance and parking lot at the middle/high school. The parking lot is in rough shape and the entrance is an incredibly congested area and I've seen some really dangerous situations. As we grow, we need to adjust and this is an important adjustment. Noone can disagree that the roads need to be addressed and it's a shame that the roads and the garage were bundled together in the first place. In my opinion, that was a mistake. I hope there is a plan in place to bring that before the town in the very near future. I do not consider myself a liberal...at all, Andrew. I have lived in this town for 8 years and in that time, I haven't seen any major investments put into a project like this. It's not about being better than or equal to towns around us - it's about improving the community we live in. I can't help but to believe that major sporting events that this track will attract for three seasons out of the year will bring people to visit the Mobil station on Route 44, the Cake Gypsy or Canton Indoor Golf in Canton Village or the new great restaurants in Collinsville. I encourage people to get informed, get out to vote and vote "YES" on this project.
Jennifer (Barri) Almeida October 10, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Jenn C, thank you for bringing up an excellent point!! This project is not just about a Track & Field, but is about improving an unsafe parking lot at the HS. In addition, to the reconfiguration of the parking lot/driveway, there will be additional 26 parking spaces added to the HS parking lot. The Track & Field is $2,092,000 and the Parking lot/driveway is $1,043,000. Please vote Yes, on NOV 6.
Andrew Ziemba October 10, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Would you mind telling me what percentage of the town budget goes to public "education", and also what that amount of money is per year? I'd like to see you type it. I would appreciate this greatly, thank you.
Betty October 10, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Andrew, Here is the link to the current budget, and the contact info for the Chief Financial Officer. Hope it is helpful. http://www.townofcantonct.org/content/6800/492/default.aspx Is the town web page with the link to the budget. Finance Officer Ms. Otoole: 860-693-7852 aotoole@townofcantonct.org
wendy October 10, 2012 at 05:12 PM
The parking lot reconfiguration was originally in the road project. So if the track/field project does not pass, the parking lot re-do could be moved back to the roads project, in my opinion
Canton Taxpayer October 10, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Exactly Wendy.
Betty October 10, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Yes, it was moved when the roads were bundled with the garage.
Betty October 10, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Jen, What you are suggesting is often referred to as visitors. Visitors would have helped many businesses that have closed, or moved out of Canton. To make the most of visitors Canton needs more lodging, otherwise when visitors come to events in Canton we stand the chance of loosing their spending dollars to neighboring towns where they will be spending the night.
Wyatt October 10, 2012 at 09:26 PM
@Betty. It is highly unlikely that people coming to the track will be staying at a local hotel. Second, whether or not Canton has enough lodging has nothing at all to do with this issue.
Ryan November 05, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I cannot see how anyone could actually vote yes for this track. It will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars for a luxury item for the schools when there are far more pressing issues, like roads that are in extreme disrepair, a fire house that houses over 1 million dollars worth of life saving equipment that is obsolete and in need of much work, and a highway garage that is falling apart.

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