Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Opinion: Serra Urges "YES" On Sewer Bond, "NO" on Parks Bond

An opinion submitted by Council Member Thomas Serra, Current Majority Leader of the Middletown Common Council, Chairperson of the Finance & Government Committee, and former  Mayor.
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I would like to take this opportunity to make the citizens of Middletown aware of the crucially important Referendum Questions on the November 3rd ballot Question #1”to fund the completion of the Mattabassett Sewer Project” and Question #2 “Fields and Parks Improvements”.

Concerning Question #1, the City of Middletown through appropriate legislation and a prior Referendum appropriation has joined the Mattabassett Sewer District. This action was due to us being under a Federal EPA and State DEEP mandate to upgrade our Sewer Plant on River Road at an exorbitant cost. Thus, we chose to join the Mattabassett District. At this point in time, we have invested $ 16,000,0000 worth of piping that is successfully in place for the deliverance of our sewerage to the Mattabassett District.

Unfortunately, however, due to an under estimation of cost by our Consultants for the Pump Station portion of the project, we need to appropriate, via Referendum, an additional $15,000,000 to successfully complete the project. These monies again, will be eligible for EPA and DEEP grants and low cost loans. Successfully completing this project will allow us to finally decommission our River Road Sewer Plant and proceed to develop our River Front. Vote “YES” on the “Matttabassett” Question #1.

In addition, we have Referendum Question #2 regarding a $33,450,000 appropriation to upgrade our Athletic Fields & Parks among other related items. The initial project that was vetted for 1½ years by the Public Works/ Parks Commission was estimated at $28,165,000 predicated on an extensive study done by Landscape Architects Milone & MacBroom.  After much detailed research, the goal of the Public Works/Parks Commission that I am a member of was to provide safe fields/parks and more fields/parks for the multitude of our youth and active individuals that have been denied usage because of lack of fields/parks and weather related cancellations.

During the last few weeks of putting the project together, $9,000,000 worth of items were added without a study nor the normal schematics and cost projections that come with new proposals. Adding to the confusion was the controversy regarding the appropriateness of turf fields that was brought up one week before adoption of the Referendum Question #2 going to the voters.

Then, without proper vetting and understanding concerning the CT Department of Health, CT DEEP & EPA, among other official “Health Agencies” Studies officially stating turf fields are safe, the possibility of non-toxic, organic inlay fields were eliminated from consideration. Moreover, to particularly and ironically note that the following entities have turf fields: Middletown High School, Xavier High School, Wesleyan University, Coginchaug High School, Old Saybrook  High School as well as six of eight IVY League Universities. Yale will be converting the Yale Bowl to Turf this coming year.  
 
Therefore, due to the not thoroughly vetting non-toxic organic inlay field construction as well as $9,000,000 of the Referendum request that has absolutely no plans showing what needs to be done, I believe that the Field and Park Referendum Question #2 should garner a “NO” vote with the intent of reconsideration at a later time (most likely in the Spring) with a compromise solution for turf fields as well as detailed plans for a substantial part of the proposed Referendum expenditure that have no plans and specific cost projections.

In conclusion and with all the aforementioned analysis in mind, I strongly and respectfully urge all eligible Middletown voters to vote “YES” on Question #1 and “NO” on Question #2.

Thank you.

Thomas J. Serra
Current Majority of the Middletown Common Council
Chairperson of the Finance & Government Committee
Former Mayor of the City of Middletown

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tom states under estimation is the issue. Guy Russo Tom's cousin director in charge stated it was cost overruns and he wants the tax payers to fund this project without investigating who lied Tom or Guy. VOTE NO until the truth comes out. The cosultants have a different version we need to here from them to determine what happened and hold the person or consultant ACCOUNTABLE.

Catherine Johnson said...

I would like to know the details of what work would be down at which city parks,
were the referendum to be approved. I wish there were maps of each park
indicating the proposed work, so I could go look and see for myself.

Also, when does the park commission meet so the public can understand better
why these proposals are being made?

Anonymous said...

Ivies have huge endowments - it will be less of an issue if they go back from artificial turf to grass. And just because Ivies are doing it, doesn't make it safe.

David Bauer said...

I agree with Councilman Serra's conclusions on both Question #1 and #2.

As to Ms. Johnson's request - I would like to have a summary of how the City might intend to spend the $33.45 MM in Question #2. Sadly, even a summary does not exist. When the details of the original study were "tossed overboard on the Council floor", no replacement detail was created, so anybody's guess is as good as anyone else's.

If you trust your City Hall to spend the $33.45 properly without any plan, you're made of sterner stuff than I. We need to improve our City Parks, but the Middletown people deserve to know the details before we proceed.

Mike C said...

Catherine there was such a report with maps. However once the artificial turf was removed from the referendum, instead of lowering the bond amount, mayor Drew decided we would use the extra money to build 4-6 new fields. We do not know however what they will cost, where they will go, or what type of fields they will be.
Council man Serra is right, we need to vote no on question 2. It just isn't ready. Lets figure out exactly what we're going to do, then borrow the appropriate amount.

Brian Clark said...

Many have known that Mr. Serra and I have a history that goes back at least 23 years, and we have never agreed on much of anything. However, I have had a recent opportunity to speak with Mr. Serra, and I know the fire burns bright in this man, to do what is right for the citizens of Middletown. This isn't a Democrat or Republican issue any longer, it's about what is right for Middletown. Voting Yes to Question #1, and No, to Question #2 is undoubtedly what is right for Middletown. Thank you Mr. Serra for your service, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

joseph getter said...

Someone please help us to understand this:

Mr. Serra writes in his opinion piece, "At this point in time, we have invested $ 16,000,0000 worth of piping that is successfully in place for the deliverance of our sewerage to the Mattabassett District. Unfortunately, however, due to an under estimation of cost by our Consultants for the Pump Station portion of the project, we need to appropriate, via Referendum, an additional $15,000,000 to successfully complete the project."

Following this, Mr. Bauer writes in his comment, "I agree with Councilman Serra's conclusions on both Question #1 and #2. ... If you trust your City Hall to spend the $33.45 properly without any plan, you're made of sterner stuff than I."

So, we can't trust the City to spend money on parks, but we can trust them on the pipes, despite this clear failure to create a budget and adhere to it?

Mike C said...

I believe they know the terrible mistakes that were made with the sewer project, not to mention others. So thats why they oppose the parks bond. Unfortunately if we (the people of middletown) don't bail city hall out on the sewer project, we will have a very cool 16 million dollar subterranean water slide, and no place for our poop to go.

That project warrants some personnel changes in my opinion. And should also show us all NOT TO BORROW MONEY WITHOUT A CLEAR AND PRECISE PLAN!

Anonymous said...

I Agee with Serra. The parks plan in a mess from the beginning. A giveaway of taxpayer pork projects. The sewer project overrun smells too but must get done

SBC said...

I'm confused...I thought we approved 32 mill for the poo project? How much of that is left over? I've been trying to get this answered & how can it be 15 mill above & beyond that? Please tell me were not going to spend $47 mill to send poo up the street! It's also not list on me that it needs to pass so we can move on with the water project! Just don't get how a project of this magnitude is now going to be over budget by this much & how an estimate can be this far off since the referendum is from what 3-4yrs ago? Which would mean the estimate would be close to that in age too?