To the Editor:
In June of 2001, a town meeting approved the purchase of Fairfield Hills and subsequently the bonding of $21.7, million dollars. In 2005 a master plan was put in place for the Fairfield Hills Authority to implement. The plan had specific objectives, including a town hall, seven playing fields, effective mothballing of buildings and scheduled revenue from leasing buildings. The Master Plan was to be reviewed after five years
It is now 2013 and how have they done?
1. A town hall was build, but millions over the initial budget of $7.2 million dollars. It did not include effectively designed space for community organizational meetings, nor ease of future expansion. In fact it was not even large enough for either the Town Recreation Department or Social Services, both of whom remain in the basement of the Police Department.
2. Only one baseball field out of the seven agreed upon at the time of purchase were constructed.
3. Virtually no revenue has been achieved despite a ten year estimate of $2 million in taxes, and a planned $5.2 million in lease revenue. In fact the current plan is to lease buildings for $1.
4. An additional $3.5 million plus interest was spent above the original bonding for a parking lot with no taxpayer approval.
5. Buildings were not effectively mothballed and have deteriorated to the point of no practical re-use.
6. NYA was built by a private entity, but controversy remains over the allocated hours and the term of commitment. Tax payments are minimal and the town is committed to buying 1,400 hours of field time yearly denying other sports clubs in town the opportunity to participate in many of the Park and Recreation Department programs.
7. Additional millions of dollars in grants has not moved the objective of increased tax revenue nor revenue to the town forward.
8. A Master Plan Review Committee was created and issued recommendations yet planning and zoning has yet to act on it two years after its completion.
To say the administration of The Fairfield Hill Master Plan has been a failure is an understatement. Despite repeated requests to keep track of expenses at FFH, the town has refused to report costs to date, including grants, expenses, and hard and soft town expenses. In fact the town has gone to great lengths to hide expenses for Fairfield Hills within various town departments without any specific reporting of these expenses. There has been neither economic development nor any recreational development by the Town of Newtown on the property. The taxpayers of Connecticut have now spent well over $26 million dollars and have received scant for it.
It is time to get moving with a new, realistic, approach for this property, a plan that the taxpayers should be allowed to vote on.
12 Glover Avenue, Newtown July 17, 2103