Recently the Town Council approved an agreement with four private property owners giving the town the authority to make improvements worth $500,000 to the rear parking lots behind Simpson Court businesses. The agreement also requires the town to provide maintenance for 30 years at taxpayer cost.
There have been two articles in the Record Journal about it recently:
Some object to Simpson parking deal – Petition campaign seeks to force referendum
Nothing new about parking plan – Simpson scheme has been around more than decade
If we really wanted to do this we should have executed on it ten years ago when times were better and the project cost half as much. In true Wallingford fashion we waited and we’re trying to do it now when it costs much more.
In either situation I wouldn’t agree this is the best use for this money.
The Mayor is fond of saying when it comes to ball fields for Little League that if we build it for them, other sports teams would want facilities of their own too.
This has been one of his key points to the argument all these years which is one of the reasons why to this day there still is no single facility.
So if we spend tax dollars that benefit (even if it is a shared benefit) private property owners, wouldn’t we expect other private property owners to want the same benefits in the future?
I patronize many of the businesses in the Simpson Court area and this is nothing against them at all; I simply feel that it is a mistake to commit taxpayer dollars in this fashion.
We already consume tax dollars annually with the small degree of maintenance and support to the parking area already. This comes in the form of snow plowing in the winter and so on. This is in exchange for the use of the area for the businesses as well as “municipal parking.”
Obviously, people that patronize the businesses will use the rear parking – that would be expected. The agreement for the “municipal parking” use comes into play, as an example, when people park their cars there and go to the Twilight Tunes on the Parade Ground.
So in that effect the give and take is arguable, it’s been something we’ve been doing for a long time and as long as the overall and ongoing maintenance and support to the parking area stays manageable I don’t see any reason why the mutually beneficial agreement couldn’t continue.
I can’t support the use of funds to upgrade / improve their property however. At a bare minimum, after the improvements are made it could potentially make the respective properties more valuable. That’s great for the tax base I suppose but if the property owner, for example, sold the property and profiteered additionally as a direct result of tax dollars being used to upgrade and improve their parking area I don’t think I would be happy with that even knowing that the town still gets to use the area for parking out of the new owners.
If $500,000.00 is available to address parking downtown then we should commit that to the Wooding-Caplan property. The town already owns that and it would be spending the dollars on the upgrading / upkeep of its own property rather than the private property of four business owners.
I support the petition that is being circulated which is calling for a public referendum on the item. If enough signatures are collected then it would go on the ballot for people to vote on. Additionally, it would be wise to put it on the general ballot in November as it would make it so there is no additional cost to the town anyway since there is a general election taking place.
At referendum, if the majority of the voters approve the measure to spend the money on the private property of four business owners, then the council would be realized to have made the correct vote on behalf of the citizens in the first place with respect to the project. Nothing will change and the effort can go forward – case closed.
If the citizens vote it down then they will have NOT agreed with the council’s vote and they will have had their say. The project will not occur and something else will have to be voted upon.
Democracy in action.
You’ve heard my thoughts on this – take some time to read through the articles in the newspaper and get the information for yourself.
Consider signing the petition which only sets up the referendum and allows it to happen.
Then, make your choice – yes or no – do we, as a town, want to spend $500,000 in this manner.
It’s your town – get informed and get involved.