OpEd: If you’re a Granby taxpayer… and a pragmatist

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Kearns School has been the focus of various Granby Study Committees assigned by the BOS since receipt of the transference from the Education Department in 2016. A variety of recommendations were made by those respective group members but no subsequent action has occurred. 

An unsolicited purchase offer was made on the Evonsion Farm but withdrawn after a public hearing, yet no further marketing efforts were/are currently forthcoming to my knowledge.

The present 2019 Kearns Study Committee, under Diane Hernsdorf’s chairmanship, has been diligently assimilating all of the relevant considerations per the early January 2019 “charge” by the BOS. It can be viewed at: bit.ly/OpEdContent

Please note that subsequent to this original charge document, there was an additional charge added on Jan. 23, at a Special BOS meeting. (bit.ly/OpEdContent)

Lease/rent decisions are made by the BOS without referendum by Granby residents because only sales command that requisite. Granby has become a letting landlord by purchasing various properties claiming that they are saving them from unwanted developers. Yet, after a certain period of time, the properties acquire renters for various purposes, often at less than market value. Given the properties’ appraised value, this lessens potential revenue to the town with the explanation that there is no external interest in purchase. You can’t have it both ways or the return on investment was not advantageous to Granby. An updated assessment by a professional realtor and an eye to a commercial sale objective would realize dollars in the coffers and forthcoming property tax revenue.

The aforementioned status without taxpayers’ ability to have a say, expands governmental jurisdiction that can ultimately incur  unilateral decisions by the few to the detriment of the multitude’s mill rate.

The current Kearns Community Center (KCC) has not had a rigorous professional actuarial review, meaning that operating costs/revenue have not been formally confirmed as viable or realistic and at this point are only optimistic estimates. This also holds true for reconstruction expenses, that as yet have not gone out to bid. Several items, required for start up, still need to be included for start up/reconstruction: a required environmental review of the property and subsequent monitored site checks for asbestos and PCB alerts, working architectural drawings and a building permit, which are all significantly expensive tasks. It has been advised that the KCC hopes that architect’s fees will be provided pro bono.

See the KCC’s FaceBook website for construction and operating cost outlines at: kearnscommunitycenter.org

To our knowledge the KCC board members have not had previous experience with the management/oversight of a project of this dimension or magnitude. They wish to “borrow” Kearns School from Granby and avail themselves of bonded Connecticut dollars while the sate is in a debt crisis. This does not seem to be an auspicious moment to launch a maiden voyage into relatively unknown territory without sufficient expertise, experience or relative authoritative oversight. There is no room for the novice participant, no matter how altruistic the objective. Who will provide that management governance and be willing to answer to Granby’s taxpayers, the state and other contributing parties?

Should there be reconstruction issues or delays leaving a facility inoperable or operating budget shortfalls, will Granby be left to confront those challenges?

If you are a pragmatic Granby taxpayer, avail yourself of a list of 29 concerns expressed by others in your community who have done a serious study of the KCC proposal. This can be viewed at: bit.ly/OpEdContent

Options for consideration to this proposal do exist. They need marketing and an internal investigation to identify possible revenue sources and/or expansion of self-supporting town services that have less long-term risk and improved facility asset administration.

The writer welcomes any corrections, inquiries or comments to this op-ed.

Susan Patricelli Regan is the host of CT Valley Views TV Program www.ctvalleyviews.com, President of Foxfield F.A.R.M. Foundation www.foxfieldcoverymission.org, Founder of the Sylvia Davis Fine Arts Scholarship www.sylviadavisart.comand former VP Marketing and Community Trade Relations for DIAGEO N.A.