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I’m a founder of Save Academy and member of the Academy Building Guidance Committee overseeing the GreatBlue poll. Now that the survey’s cast, I feel free to express my opinion as a resident taxpayer.
The poll’s intended to provide direction. It’s time to choose: sell it or keep it. This is the last chance to weigh in before referendum. There are seven options on the poll: four private development (sell) and three community (keep).
For private development, there’s not enough purchase money or tax revenue in any of the proposals to make revenue the driver. The only reason to give away a 53,000 square-foot building and acre of land is that you want the historic building restored with someone else’s money and you’re willing to let them profit—but once it’s gone, it’s gone. If you’re inclined to support development, RAL is the best choice (it fits the neighborhood, uses the least amount of land, and generates the highest tax revenues).
The community options are for those who don’t want to sell land and a historic building in Madison’s village district, especially not for the nominal dollars offered by the developers and low tax revenues.
For community options, if you’re willing to take a longer view and pay for it, the community center is the best choice. We need to keep families and youth in town. Activities, programming, and events will generate revenues to offset operating costs. Attendance will bolster local businesses. The estimated cost of $14 million, bonded over 20 years, is $140 annually per average household. If we can’t bear the cost, go for town park (low cost to demolish and we keep the land).
The survey includes a land question. With multiple building-only proposals, there’s no justification for giving away town-owned parkland.
Kathryn L. Hunter
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