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