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July 20, 2019  |  

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Transparency in the Process

Published April 03, 2019

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Process is important. After strong resistance to high-density development in our historic district and much debate over the right fix for Academy, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) selected GreatBlue to conduct a phone poll and online survey to determine a community or private option most likely to be supported by voters at referendum. To the surprise of some and delight of others, the majority of those polled and surveyed support the town’s continued ownership of Academy and restoration of the building as a community center and strongly oppose the sale or development of the ballfields and park.

Recently the BOS commissioned a new committee to firm up the community center concept and cost estimates for a May 2019 referendum. For those who believe Academy is long overdue for referendum (whatever your preferred fix), this should be good news. Problem is, the referendum won’t include bonding. What does that mean? That even if the community center passes in May, the town will have to vote on it again at a second referendum with bonding.

The Board of Finance is currently spearheading an effort to identify the universe of town-wide capital projects anticipated over the next 10 years (based on submission to the Capital Improvement Program), attach cost estimates to each, and calculate the impact on our debt and mill rate. This multi-board process is expected to continue for several months. The purpose is two-fold: informed long-range fiscal planning and public awareness.

Academy should be part of this process. The BOS has a responsibility to shepherd Academy to referendum in a clear and good faith manner.

While we are not entitled to a particular outcome—which will be decided by the collective vote—we are entitled to transparency in the process and a well-intended path to referendum for Academy.

Kathryn Hunter
Madison

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