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I’m concerned that the residents of Madison may have been unduly swayed by the signs that were posted all over town when they responded to the recent survey about what to do with Academy School. Do we really want to spend $15 million or more to convert it to a community center with an undefined, aspirational need? Taxpayers should understand that this proposed community center also comes with significant operating costs like staffing, repairs, and maintenance that would further the need to increase our already-high taxes.
We have yet to feel the impact of the referendum to renovate the library that resulted in additional bonding for $9 million. The total cost is undetermined because the bonds have not been sold. Additionally, the school system says we need $100 million to bring our schools up to par. Where will that money come from—more bonding? There is also the uncertainty surrounding Hartford’s future impact on town finances.
The evidence suggests Madison should look for a third party that will spend its money developing this tired and aging building. Selling the property would generate revenue from the sale and save millions of dollars in conversion and operating costs while also adding to the tax base. Furthermore, Polson school has just over 400 students when it used to accommodate 1,200! We are heating and maintaining a lot of square footage that isn’t being used, maybe we can use that space as a community center.
As the sailing proverb states, “You cannot control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”
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