Friday, August 4, 2006
Voters will see modified Banta-Davis plan this fall
A Special Town Meeting is being planned for late October to reconsider the question of playing field construction on the Banta-Davis Land. In May of this year a bid for developing fields passed at Town Meeting and was defeated at the polls by eleven votes. One of the proposed fields would have been composed of an artificial surface which, though initially more expensive, would endure more intensive use as well as require far less maintenance. The Recreation Commission (RecCom) hopes a new proposal for the land, encompassing community-friendly elements such as a pavilion, walking trails, and, perhaps in a later stage, a recreation center, will be more acceptable.
When John LaLiberte of the RecCom appeared at the Selectmen's meeting on July 25, he first requested a September Special Town Meeting to vote on the plan, with elections September 19. The advantage of an early Town Meeting would be the ability to get bidding done in the fall and start work in the spring. But Selectman Tim Hult opposed the September date. "It feels a little rushed. I have some sense people didn't get enough information [in May] about the advantages of synthetic versus real [surfaces]." In addition, Hult noted the proposal has changed significantly to include seniors and other community members and "you need time to explain that."
"That is a concern," agreed LaLiberte, noting several elements are being added to the plan that will be "inclusive to the whole community." He said the RecCom is prepared with information to appear in the two Mosquito editions in August and the edition for September 1. But Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie noted, "Your target audience is away in August" and focused on "getting kids in school" in early September. "It won't matter [that the Mosquito has the information] if no one's around to read it."
"I believe in this project and think it's important to get it approved," said Hult. "If it doesn't happen now, it'll be a while. We can't come back in the spring" as there's only so many times voters will want to revisit the measure. "What is the best possible process to get this approved?" Hult asked, adding,"A few added weeks would be a better process."
A decision was made to shoot for a Town Meeting at the end of October with elections coinciding with the gubernatorial elections November 7. Hult reported the School Building Committee is unlikely to be prepared with a plan in time for a Fall Town Meeting. "They want to come forward with something that will be supported in the context of a financial plan."
LaLiberte noted his committee's appreciation for the support of the Selectmen, and Hult expressed satisfaction that more time to prepare and educate the public on the value of developing ball fields "gives us a better shot at getting this understood and approved."
© 2006 The